Tradition And Money Make This Massacre Go Round
The Yulin dog meat festival
Yulin, a tiny town ensconced in the Guangxi region of southern China, is all geared up to commence its inimitable annual Summer Solstice Festival. Superfluous lychee liqueur, strong grain beer and some meat. Dog meat.
It’s tradition, they say. Every year 10,000 dogs and around 5000 cats are slaughtered at the Yulin Dog Meat Festival. By slaughtered, I mean mass public torture, electrocution, slitting throats, boiling, burning and skinning the animals alive. Flayed, mouths taped, legs bound, the animals are hanged from hooks or stacked and beaten with iron poles, crushing their bones. Their screams are deafening, piercing, until they succumb. Higher the adrenaline levels, tastier the meat.
Crammed in cages, dogs of all sizes and shapes, mostly stolen from urban and rural households or picked up from the streets, denied water and food, and sold to the local meat shop guy at low prices. They end up in the cooking pots after a day of mass slaughter and are gobbled up at the dinner table with family and friends. If you run out of meat, fret not, there’s always your own sweet pet at home. All in the name of tradition and celebration. Vituperative, nefarious little party.
Dining on dogs has been a part of the Chinese tradition for eons. Legend says eating dog meat can dismiss evil, cure disease, keep you healthy and enhance men's sexual performance. For these radical reasons, the ancient and archaic summer tradition must prevail in this modern and civilized age, of course. A dog in China must await its odious suffering to mark the bloody summer solstice. Canine feasts must satiate the gloating Chinese gourmand.
In recent years, the contentious festival has garnered copious negative press and piqued animal rights activists across China and the rest of the world, who urge to call for an instant stop to afflicting and eating man’s best friend. In 2013, the festival was condemned to such an extent that the local government simply denied the existence and endorsement of any such antediluvian tradition. In 2014, though, it was ostensibly “banned”. The “dog dish” was removed from local restaurant menus and signs of “festival” concealed. But the local residents didn’t let the festival spirit debilitate, and everything was very covertly disguised and epicurean preparations ensued surreptitiously.
The residents have been nothing but truculent about Western media intervening in their local customs. However execrable, for them it’s ancestral tradition that is an essential part of their culture. A savoury dish, a way to prosper, burgeoning tourism, or means of living, their reasons are ample. But what’s most conspicuous about the activity is the quick money - stealing pet dogs, abducting strays or sloppily raising a bunch at a farm and selling them each year for slaughter. The trade is valuable, money is good.
Tradition, on the other hand, is sometimes just a nebulous word underneath which lie easy monetary gains, blind superstition and languorous denial to step up and bring an imperative change. What is so dreadfully flawed about traditions? It is the dismal lack of evolution of the human brain, which doesn’t comprehend or accept that it might just be time to put an end to regressive, flagrant, animal slaughtering “traditions” and the likes of such.
Tradition and money. These are pretty darn good reasons for this cadaverous massacre.
And what is so deplorable about the Yulin Dog Meat Festival? It’s a “cultural” thing after all. Regional, folk customs are to be preserved and passed on. Some say beef is banned in Hinduism, pork in Islam but people around the world still consume so why such hubbub over dog meat? We cannot stop people from eating meat they prefer. The bigger quandary with this repugnant festival is firstly that it is a “festival”, a slaughterfest. Piles and piles of corpses and inundating pools of dog blood is your picture perfect postcard from Yulin. Secondly, the reprehensible ways in which the animals are massacred in public, and for what? Just some extra flavour owing to their rushed adrenaline. Thirdly, the dastardly ways in which the animals are captured. Stolen, abducted, stacked over one another and sent off on long, arduous journeys. Many die of shock, trauma, injury, starvation and dehydration. Those who survive are well, assaulted and slaughtered in the streets or in slaughterhouses. The reasons are endless and varied. China has the second largest number of rabies cases in the world. Without the presence of vigilant food security norms, mass killings can onset a variety of diseases and a SARS-like situation. The country has no stringent animal welfare laws and hence the dog/cat slaughter is not illegal.
The activists’ blitzkrieg, lackadaisical government retort just turned out to be a series of futile efforts as Yulin is all geared up for its summer buffet on June 21, 2015. But, the overwhelming support and outcry from all over did help in dwindling down the size of the festival and butchery of animals as the sale of meat in 2014 shrank to a third of what it was in 2013.
Andrea Gung from the California-based welfare charity the Duo Duo Project launched a petition which more than 250,000 supporters. “Some dogs were still wagging their tails when they were being killed in the slaughterhouse,” she said in a report. Another welfare organisation, Humane Society International, is working boundlessly to end the grim activity of dog trade for human consumption. They saved and purchased dogs and rescued many from dog traders during last year’s event. Activists in China, America, Europe and Australia have written letters to the Yulin government, recruited celebrities to show dissent, marshaled on social media and petition sites like Change.org. The hashtag #StopYulin2015 has been doing the rounds. The Obama Administration has also been petitioned to step in and a threshold of 100,000 signatures is required to stimulate a response. “Please help us stop the Yulin Festival of eating dogs in Guangxi province. It is bloody and disregards life," a petition on the US White House website said.
Lastly, without trying to sound mawkish or sugary, what about just a little compassion for this animal that humans have domesticated for years? Instead of being a skeptic, flaunting jingoism, citing other religions, wrangling over their meat preferences, bans, taboos and customs, deciding whether it is more profane to eat a cow or pig or dog or man, or riposting with a “but don’t you eat pork” hypocrite angle, why not, at least, recognise the need to ponder over means to end repression and cruelty of animals. Festivals like Gadhimai in Nepal, where hundreds and thousands of buffaloes and goats are brutishly killed to appease a Hindu goddess. Or the slaughter of thousands of whales and dolphins on Faroe Islands. Why not terminate, thwart any animal brutalities that are cloaked under the satiny layers of incorrigible, redundant traditions?
(Show some support, send a tweet, sign a petition. Lead on to something sweeter: https://www.change.org/p/mr-chen-wu-yulin-governor-please-shut-down-the-yulin-dog-meat-festival-in-guangxi-china)