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Animal Welfare Network Nepal End Animal Sacrifices in Nepal Campaign


Animal Welfare Network Nepal solicits support for running a 3 year campaign to end animal sacrifices in Nepal General Objective Conduct a campaign for a phase wise ban on animal sacrifices in Nepal. Specific Objectives 1.

Pressurize authorities and civil society to end animal sacrifice

2.

Conduct grassroots education campaign

3.

Conduct national awareness raising campaign

4.

Collect and publicize data on animal sacrifice in Nepal

5.

Sensitize media representatives and conduct media outreach activities

6.

Coordination of international campaigns and formation of coalition

Duration: December 2009-December 2012 Responsible partners: Animal Welfare Network Nepal with Anti-Animal Sacrifice Alliance Nepal


Facts and Figures of Animal Sacrifices in Nepal  Animal sacrifice is conducted in most goddess temples  The total number of animals sacrifices annually is estimated to be a few hundred thousand; most villages offer 250-1000 animals during Dasain festival  Sacrifices are generally conducted in the presence of children  There is no law to regulate animal sacrifice  The government supports sacrifices with subsidies  Annual Dasain sacrifices are shown life on national TV  Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists are all involved  Apart from known sacrifice through throat slitting and beheading other extreme forms of blood sacrifices include the tearing apart of a live goat by young men, burning of live snakes, live skinning of pigs, removal of hearts of live animals, et cetera  There is very little awareness about the welfare aspect of blood sacrifices  Priests are among the promoters of animal sacrifice  Grave abuse takes place in the transport and killing of the animals

 Gadhimai festival takes place once every 5 years and ranks among the world’s worst forms of animal cruelty


Introduction Organisation profile Animal Welfare Network Nepal (AWNN) is a network of committed animal welfare agencies based in Kathmandu Valley. The AWNN Secretariat is presently housed at Animal Nepal, a reputed animal rights NGO in Lalitpur District of Kathmandu Valley. AWNN was established in 2008 to increase the effectiveness of and interaction among animal welfare organisations in Nepal. It is backed by the following objectives: 1. To coordinate the activities of animal welfare organizations. 2. To raise awareness on animal welfare issues among the public. 3. To lobby and advocate for animal rights. 4. To promote stray dog adoptions 5. To provide education and support to its members. AWNN in the first year of its existence focused on campaigning and lobbying by conducting the following activities: 1. Lobby for Animal Welfare Act with related Ministries 2. Coordinate the successful Stop Monkey Business Campaign to end the breeding and export of monkeys for US labs (see www.stopmonkeybusiness.org) 3. Coordinate Worship Without Cruelty Campaign addressing animal cruelty in the name of religion 4. Launch nationwide photography, poster and article writing competition called ‘Stop Animal Cruelty’ with the motto Ragat Jota Ho Dukha Pani (Our blood is one, and so is our suffering) 5. Organise media campaign to sensitize the public on animal cruelty 6. Coordinate Stop Killings at Gadhimai campaign – the first homegrown movement against mass scale blood sacrifices


Background on animal sacrifice in Nepal Animal sacrifice is practiced by many religions as a means of appeasing a god or gods or changing the course of nature. Animal sacrifice has turned up in almost all cultures, from the Hebrews to the Greeks and Romans and from the Aztecs to the Hindus. Although many Hindus are vegetarian, there are Hindu temples in India as well as Nepal where goats and chickens are sacrificed. These sacrifices are mainly done at mandirs following the Shakti school of Hinduism where the female nature of Brahman is worshipped in the form of Kali Ma and Durga. The Hindu way of animal sacrifice/slaughter is called Jhatka, where the head of the animal is severed completely by a single blow of a heavy sword. This is considered to be the most merciful and painless death for the animal, as the spinal cord and the blood supply to the brain are severed immediately. In some Indian states animal sacrifice has been banned. Today much of the urban Indian Hindu community disapproves of animal sacrifice. However in Nepal even in urban areas animal sacrifice is practiced at a large scale with ‘Our idols are made of goddess temples overflowing with blood on certain stone, but they drip days of the week. Attempts to stop the practice by the with the blood of our Maoist-led government have been met with much resistance.

fellow beings.’

Possibly the largest animal sacrifice in the world occurs during Gadhimai festival in Bara district which is held every five years. This tear, on November 24-25, some 250,000 animals were mutilated and beheaded in what may very well be the world's largest religious slaughter. The Nepal's Government subsidized the Gadimai Festival, despite strong local and international protest.


However, Gadhimai is not the only blood festival in Nepal. Here people are found performing sacrificial rituals in the majority of temples in the name of God. There is no law to regulate animal sacrifice. Offenders who starve, torture or purposely slow down the killing of animals are not prosecuted. Cruelty against animals harms society as a whole; it signals and normalizes insensitivity in children who can become numb to the suffering of living beings, it is also known to influence certain people to commit violence on other humans. Sacrifices often strengthen the vested interest of those who benefit from superstition-based beliefs and rituals. As Nepal is moving ahead to become a more fully democratic, egalitarian society, it is crucial to challenge age-old beliefs which are not beneficial and drain the resources of the poor and needy. Unregulated sacrifice of such a baffling number of animals created unprecedented health risks for humans. Due to the fact that the transport, killing, disposal and preparation of the animals and their meat goes unmonitored and the close proximity between ‘Decapitating a humans and animals, mass sacrifices can result in bleating buffalo or widespread food poisoning (Salmonella, E coli, Campylobacter, etc), Tuberculosis, as well as bird and goat should not be the swine flu. Zoonosis have already been reported to be symbol of the Nepali caused by festivals such as Gadhimai. To stop religious killings of animals in the coming days, AWNN plans to conduct a three year extensive animal awareness campaign aiming at a phase wise ban of the practice of animal sacrifice in the name of God.

civilization.’

Animal Welfare Network Nepal’s ‘Stop Killings at Gadhimai Campaign’ AWNN in 2009 conducted an intense campaign aimed at stopping or reducing the offering of hundreds of thousands of animals at Gadhimai Festival. The network joined forces with the Anti Animal Sacrifice Alliance (AASA), a coalition of religious groups that has campaigned against animal sacrifice since 2 years. The organizations carried out the following activities: 1. Coordinate international protest – AWNN has reached out to international animal rights organization and the international media to be informed and speak out against Gadhimai. A few hundred letters were send to Nepalese leaders including personal requests from Maneka Gandhi, Brigitte Bardot, et cetera. 2. Organise Gadhimai Dharna – AWNN and AASA organized Gadhimai Dharna (programme for symbolic protest on animal sacrifice) at Patan Durbar by inviting Madan Krishna and


Hari Bansha (Nepal’s well know comedians) and Silpee Theatre Group (drama performing group) to stop animal sacrifice at Gadimai Festival on November 24 and 25. 3. Petition – A petition signed by over 4,000 people was handed over to the related ministers i.e. Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation and Minister for Agricultural and Cooperatives to request the government to stop the mass sacrifice of animals. 4. Leafleting and poster distribution- Pamphlets, Leaflets and Posters were distributed in and around Kathmandu Valley and in Bariyapur of Bara District (venue of Gadhimai) 5. Organise press conferences – AWNN organized a number of press meets both in Kathmandu and Birgunj (close to Gadhimai venue) to inform media representatives about the campaign and about cruelty issues involved in animal sacrifice. Religious Leaders officers from related government agencies were invited to speak 6. Symbolic campaign – A symbolic sacrifice of coconuts was organized at the goddess temple in Birgunj 7. Last minute appeal – organizers send an emotional last minute appeal to the organizers of Gadhimai Festival to stop the mass sacrifice of animals. An sms campaign was organized to pressurize the organizers on the first day of sacrifice.

Objectives of “End Animal Sacrifice in Nepal” Campaign General Objective Conduct a campaign for a phase wise ban on animal sacrifices in Nepal.


Specific Objectives 1.

Pressurize authorities and civil society to end animal sacrifice

2.

Conduct grassroots education campaign

3.

Conduct national awareness raising campaign

4.

Collect and publicize data on animal sacrifice in Nepal

5.

Sensitize media representatives and conduct media outreach activities

6.

Coordination of international campaigns and formation of coalition

Outputs Ad 1 Pressurize authorities to end animal sacrifice 1.1 File Lawsuits on Meat Act and Sacrifice

In Khokana of Lalitpur there is a similar sacrifice ritual in which a goat is thrown into a pond while participants jump in to tear the animal apart with their bare hands and teeth.

Activities: -

File lawsuit to pressurize government to enact Meat Act including humane transportation and humane killing of livestock at Supreme Court

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File lawsuit to pressurize government to end animal sacrifice taking into consideration human rights, environmental sanitation, health and religious sentiments towards Animal Sacrifice. 1.2 Lobby for passing of Animal Welfare Act

Activities -

Regular visits to responsible lawmakers and authorities Organised lunch for lawmakers and authorities involved 1.3 Lobby for amendment and enforcement of Meat Act


Activities: - Regular visits to responsible lawmakers and authorities - Publish expose of multiple abuses conducted by livestock dealers, transporters and butchers 1.4 Lobby to include animals in new constitution Activities: - Organize a workshop for CA members to include animal issue in constitution. - Regular visits to responsible lawmakers and authorities 1.5 Introduce letter writing campaigns to political parties and political leaders

Activities: -

Coordinate regular letter writing from local and international organizations and individuals to Nepalese parties and leaders 1.6 Pressurise public offices civil society organizations to stop animal sacrifice in their premises

In Bhaktapur pigs are skinned alive and their chests opened, and the living heart yanked out. The screaming mercifully dies, while its still-beating heart is offered to the temple amidst loud music.

Activities: -

Identify public and civil society offices where animal sacrifice is practiced Write letters to the organization requesting a ban Expose these organizations when practice is not stopped 1.7 Conduct a ‘Visit Nepal 2011? Not over their dead bodies’ tourism industry campaign

Activities: -

Survey among tourists to find out impact of animal cruelty on visitors Workshop with industry representatives Pressurize industry to accept an Anti-Animal Cruelty Code containing the following:  No visits to temples where sacrifice takes place


-

Only sacrifice of fruits, vegetables, eggs at hotels, tour operators, public tourism buildings  Stop serving of meat from inhumanely killed animals  No misuse of working animals  Percentage of income set aside for animal welfare Demonstrations at tourist fairs pressurizing government to abolish animal sacrifice and introduce humane killing of animals Posters / brochures directed at tourists explaining cruelty issues and what they can do to prevent it

2. Conduct grassroots social mobilization campaign 2.1 Formation of social mobilizers’ groups Activities -

Training for social mobilizers Development of training manuals

2.2 Local media campaign Activities -

Documentary preparation Local FM broadcasts Documentary festival

It is morally wrong to torture fellow creatures, ‘If we are indeed human but to do so in the beings, why can'tname we of religion is a sin. The learn to be a little more government should set an humane during a national example by stopping festival?’ official sacrifices.

2.3 Produce educational materials Activities -

Produce materials such as hoarding boards, posters, banners, sign posts, leaflets and brochures calling for an end to animal sacrifice Produce comic book for children about animal sacrifice Produce a theatre play calling for an end to animal sacrifice

2.4 Conduct school visits in Bara District (Gadhimai area) with the help of comic books and local education/theater teams Activities -

Distribute comic books to schools in districts surrounding Gadhimai Train local education teams Train local theater groups


2.5 Campaigning through FM stations and by pasting posters, distributing leaflets, brochures at temples where animal sacrifice takes place.

3. Conduct nationwide awareness raising campaign Activities: -

Organise 4 religious discourses by well known gurus

4. Collect and publicize data on animal sacrifice in Nepal -

Collect data and images for Animal Sacrifice study of Nepal Use findings as advocacy tools

Activities: - Appoint research coordinator - Develop research format - Create group of researchers in six zones of Nepal - Collect data and images - Data analysis, report writing, translation and publishing - Organizing press conference

5. Sensitize media representatives and conduct media outreach activities Activities: -

Form Journalists for Animals group Provide basic sensitization and reporting skills trainings for media representatives Announce annual Stop Animal Cruelty Journalism award Promote regular reports on cruelty in animal sacrifices across the country

6. Coordination of international campaigns and formation of coalition Activities -

Form International Anti-Sacrifice coalition Coordinate with Indian groups to conduct education programmes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (60-80 % of blood sacrifices at Gadhimai come from India Inform and advice international groups on campaigns to pressurize Nepalese government


Note: the quotes are from Tirtha Shrestha, a Nepalese botanist

For more information contact Mahesh Sharma or Lucia de Vries, Animal Welfare Network Nepal, awnnepal@gmail.com


Campaign Against Animal Sacrifice in Nepal