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Saturday, November 29, 2014

This was the Last, I Promise

This was the Last, I Promise 



 "As I walked through the sea of beheaded buffalo, one of the few surviving calves came and sniffed me for a while, seeking some comfort. What could say to him? I have failed him. In 2009 I promised this would never happen again and yet here I am, feeling the same helplessness.

But this time it is different. I knew it would be almost impossible to prevent any bloodshed. But at least I wanted to shatter the image of Gadhimai as the world’s most bloody and violent festival. I wanted to nullify it, so that “Gadhimai” was no longer a word that invoked images of carnage and violence. This is where I have failed. Because even though numbers are much reduced, we still had to witness a massacre, and we have fresh gruesome images circulating in media, and I am back in this nightmare from which I can never wake up.

So in this aspect I have failed, but in saving countless animals’ lives, and getting closer to ending animal sacrifice forever, we have achieved a great victory.

The organizers said this would be the “biggest and most spectacular”Gadhimai Festival ever. They projected there would be 500,000 animals sacrificed. So confident of numbers, they sold in advance the carcasses of 10,000 buffalo to a meat contractor for US$160,000. This contractor has now backed out after counting only 3,266 buffalo carcasses, with an estimated 15,000 goats and 5-10,000 pigeons.
The carcasses are being left to rot in the ground, whilst the organizers are facing a huge financial loss.

This is the first Gadhimai Festival since our Stop Animal Sacrifice campaign began, and already we have reduced animal sacrifices by at least 70%. For five years we have been conducting mass sensitization in all 99 villages of Bara district, and we have reached every single adult in the five villages surrounding the festival area. Together with our friends from Humane Society International, we have worked tirelessly on the ground to save as many animals as possible,despite much adversity and great personal risk (due to the political and corruptive forces behind Gadhimai). We mobilized hundreds of volunteers, confiscated thousands of animals, and convinced countless pilgrims not to sacrifice their animals. We even held an all-night protest within the heart of the temple itself and convinced the butchers to release over 300 buffalo.

The whole event has been a disaster for the organizers and has exposed the complete incompetence of the Nepalese authorities. Several laws (including a recent Supreme Court Order) have been violated on a massive scale as the authorities failed to implement even basic measures for the protection of animal and public health. Four people have been confirmed dead in the stampedes (including one young child) and this figure is expected to rise. Rather than seek to address the concerns, the Nepal Government has instead ordered the local administration to ban any kind of filming or photography during the festival, stating “The ministry cannot speak about whether to allow sacrifice or not. But photos and videos of that has seriously harmed Nepal’s tourism and culture”.

We want to thank everyone who has supported AWNN, from the bottom of our hearts. The eyes of the world are now on Nepal and we will not lose this momentum. Strengthened by our victory, now is the time for us to push for legislative change and mass education, to ensure this was the last Gadhimai Massacre the world has to witness." This is why we have to add our voices to real organistions in these countries, and add our voices in support of their actions - because it is they who are really making a difference in their own country  

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