Turkey's main opposition CHP calls on Erdoğan to take immediate action on animal rights

Turkey's main opposition CHP calls on Erdoğan to take immediate action on animal rights

Umut Erdem - ANKARA
Turkeys main opposition CHP calls on Erdoğan to take immediate action on animal rights

The main opposition Republican People Party’s (CHP) deputy chair in charge of monitoring animal rights, Gülizar Biçer Karaca, has urged President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s chair, to prioritize the government’s new animal rights draft law.

“Law No. 5199, the animal rights law that is currently in effect sees animals as goods and commodities. The maltreatment of animals is evaluated under the law of misdemeanor. The penalties are not deterrent,” Karaca said in a statement 

“Every day, we see a new case of animal abuse in this country. While the parrot Bahtiyar’s death could not be called to account, a new story showed a dogs whose eyes were gouged out,” Karaca added, referring to a parrot which was recently killed after being tortured by a TV personality and a stray dog found with its eyes gouged out in the northwestern province of Edirne on Dec. 22.

Karaca stressed that penalties for animal rights violations need to be increased in order to deter people from committing such crimes.

“Vital, physical and freedom rights of every living thing must be guaranteed under the constitution. From the parrots to the dogs, every animal should be recognized as equals.

Despite all insistences, parliament does not put the animal rights law on its agenda,” she said.

The treatment of animals as inanimate objects is not acceptable, the CHP deputy chair also said.

Karaca reiterated that promises were made concerning this issue before the general elections on June 24, yet those promises were “not kept.”

“Stop using animals for electioneering. If you are sincere about this issue, let’s give animals their rights. We are ready,” she said.

A landmark government-sponsored bill put forth in April seeks jail sentence for perpetrators who torture animals instead of a fine — a topic which has widely been discussed in Turkey, with animal rights activists calling for a change for decades.

Those who dare to torture animals will receive four months to four and a half years in prison, according to the new bill.

The bill proposes up to 4.5 years of jail sentence if the perpetrator tortures more than one animal.

If the perpetrator violates the freedoms of multiple animals in the same instance, his or her sentence will be increased by one-and-a-half times, rising from six months to four-and-a-half years in jail, according to the draft.

In the event of the murder of an endangered species, the culprit will be sentenced up to seven years in jail.

The bill, which dissolves the lines between pets and stray animals, also propose animals “are not property.”