Friday, 26 August 2011

'Anna Hazare, please spare the donkeys' 
MUMBAI: While the people's movement against corruption enters a critical stage, the animal activists have urged Anna Hazare to immediately intervene and save the poor donkeys from being harassed at various ongoing rallies. A letter written by Federation of Indian Animals Protection Organisations (FIAPO) has stated that in India there are approximately 1.6 million donkeys which are largely used to do hard labour.

FIAPO has requested Anna Hazare to help stop the further harassment towards animals like donkeys that are being ridiculed by protesters with a bad and cruel sense of humour. A Lucknow based activist, Kamna Trivedi, had posted an update on Facebook stating that she was sickened to see anti-corruption activists dragging a few donkeys at a procession and also slapping the poor animals for no fault of theirs. The donkeys were somehow made out to be ``symbols of corrupt officials and politicians'' at the rallies, which is rather cruel and senseless.

Another Hazare supporter at Mumbai had actually used an elephant to display a giant poster against Corruption, and for the Lokpal Bill. However, elephants have been legally banned from the Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane regions by the Bombay High Court, after it was known that elephants are exploited by their mahouts to beg on the streets.

The full letter of FIAPO addressed to Hazare is below


Shri Anna Hazare
Ramlila Maidan
New Delhi

Respected Sir,

I write to you from FIAPO is India's umbrella animal welfare body concerned with the protection and welfare of all animals, with hundreds of members and colleagues across the country. On behalf of our constituency - comprising of several animal protection organisations and thousands of sympathisers - we would like to reiterate that we wholeheartedly support your crusade. Corruption most affects the disempowered and there is perhaps none more disempowered than animals.

During the past few days of your fast, where millions of us have been following you and praying and fighting with you, something very disturbing was brought to FIAPO's attention. A few among millions of your ardent followers, in the heated, emotionally charged environment are disrupting and harming the very essence of your fast - to do away with corruption so that the common man doesn't suffer, common man here being, the oppressed and the voiceless, which, of course, includes the animals of this country.

Recently, while watching a rally held in one part of the country, we noticed that a few people, definitely with good intentions of standing up against corruption, were using donkeys as objects to mock at corrupt officials. This action only serves to encourage the belief that donkeys are objects of ridicule and derision instead of what they actually are - innocent, hard working animals who truly bear the burden of the world on their back with little kindness shown to them.

India is home to approximately 1.6 million donkeys. Donkeys in India have long suffered and have been the objects of scorn because of superstition and ignorance. Since ancient times, they have been victimized for their uncomplaining nature. People who closely work with these animals report that donkeys are very intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn. In fact, they make great companion animals because of these same characteristics.

The donkeys used in the protest rally were undoubtedly terrified and confused. Imagine being surrounded by lights, cameras and shouting protestors and reporters and not having any understanding of what is happening. Further, the donkeys used in this stunt had no vote in the matter. It is unfair for those who fight corruption and injustice to use animals to garner attention for their campaigns.

We respectfully beseech you to ask your followers not to use animals during protests, rallies or processions.

In fellowship with the cause of eradicating corruption and with deep respect for your personal courage,

Yours sincerely,

Arpan Sharma
Chief Executive Officer
Federation of Indian Animals Protection Organisations.

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