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Animal rights activists, with hand drums and cat and dog masks on their faces, staged a powerful two-day protest outside an international conference on dog population management in Istanbul, Turkey
With the solidarity appeal of 11 different animal rights groups in Turkey, an ensemble of animal rights activists rallied outside International Companion Animal Management Coalition's (ICAM) Second International Conference on Dog Population Management at the Grand Cevahir Hotel in Şişli, one of the busiests districts of Istanbul, on March 3-5, for two days.
More than 50 demonstrators chanted "Freedom for trees, animals and the Earth”, “Smash in all cages” and “ICAM -the butcher- get the hell out of our planet”, while waving placards reading "Animal Testing: Because You Are Worth It” and "Animal massacre will be planned in Grand Cevahir for 3 days".
On the first day of the conference and the rally, the activists unfurled a large banner reading “ICAM = Animal Genocide” from inside the windows of the Grand Cevahir hotel, despite high security measures by police force outside the hotel. One activist, Çetin Şengül, was also taken into custody for spray painting animal liberation slogans on the hotel walls to be released back in an hour after being fined within the scope of misdemeanor law. The journalists, who wanted to hand a microphone to the conference organizers, were not taken inside the premises either.
On the first and the last day of the conference, the protestors boycotted, as mentioned in their press release, ICAM's “highly problematic policy of 'animal welfare', which is based on ignoring animals’ right to live” and its support for 'euthanasia', “killing of animals by chemicals”, as well as the conference's attempts to “enable more animal killings by the municipalities in conformity with new Animal Protection Bill” in Turkey’s recent political agenda.
Throughout the conference, there was also a huge online support for animal rights groups on social media with the main hashtags #dogpop2015 and #NoToICAM.
In their open letter to the ICAM Committee, the signatories - Freedom to Earth Association, The Four-Legged City Initiative, Independent Activists for Animal Liberation, Green Anger Initiative, Freedom for Dolphins Platform, Justice To Animals Platform, End the Use of Horse-Drawn Carriages Group- addressed the coalition, writing: “Your claims both encourage and act as a supportive ground for thousands of animals to be killed with the excuse of 'protecting public health', instead of having state agencies and local administrations taking real preventive precautions on human health.”
One of the spokespersons for the protesting animal rights groups, Kerem Savey, said that the coalition had not contacted or consulted any Turkish animal rights associations in advance for opinion on local issues and verifiable facts in Turkey regarding stray animals:
“The agenda of the conference is not ensuring the undisputable rights of animals to live or preventing animal abuse on a local and global basis. The agenda of the conference is the systematic eradication of stray animals off from the streets and the manipulation of public opinion by means of defining strays as an 'urban problem' and the source of epidemics or zoonotic diseases. The coalition tries to procure wide acceptance by the camouflage of 'euthanasia'. However, euthanasia means ending a persons' life by his or her own will. It cannot be applied on animals. When applied, it is pure murder. ICAM's claim about euthanasia being a 'humane' practice and that it is for animal welfare is basically inconsistent and hypocritical. ICAM is taking the mission of legitimizing and necessitating animal killings by local administrations in public opinion. The expensive entrance fee for the conference, on the other hand, proves that ICAM is trying to prevent any criticism towards their aim to sow the seeds of local practices of animal culling and their vision of non-animalization of the cities.”
The spokesperson for the Freedom to Earth Association, Neşe Akbaş, also said, "Unlike some European countries and some states in the US, stray animals in animal shelters in Turkey cannot be killed for not being adopted. ICAM tries to change this by emphasizing this as a modern solution for animal population control. But this is no different then mass murder. We are not going to let anyone wash the blood off the governments’ and the local administrations’ hands in order to deflect public opinion with false and inconsistent claims and to encourage official and public violence against animals. Neither in newly constructed Kısırkaya, nor in pojectized Pendik Animal Concentration Camps.”
Freedom to Earth Association
Istanbul, March 5, 2015