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AR in Turkey is spreading


Meows and woofs translate to votes

Anatolia News Agency


ADANA - The ’I give my word covenant’ is a public campaign demanding promises from mayoral candidates to care for the rights of animals and take their well being into consideration. Animal rights foundations say they will not vote for candidates who do not sign their pledge. Roughly 200 candidates have signed on to the pledge

Animal-rights groups are demanding a promise from mayoral candidates that they will care for the rights of animals, saying, "Animal lovers will never vote for candidates who did not sign our covenant."

Prepared by the Animal Rights Federation, or HAYTAP, the document, known as the "I give my word covenant," has been signed by almost 200 politicians running in the March 29 local elections.

Speaking with the Anatolian news agency, Nesrin Çıtırık, an acting board member of HAYTAP and general secretary of the Foundation for Protection of Nature and Animals, or DOHAYKO, said the group’s campaign of "No votes for politicians who disregard animals" is finding success nationwide.

Voting issue

The duties of protecting, caring for and controlling stray or sick animals have been assigned to local governments under the control of the governorships by the law for the protection of animals, Çıtırık said, but added that the local governments do not handle this duty well enough.

Çıtırık said the candidates for local government speak only about projects like roads, sidewalks and water infrastructure. "They make many promises to people during the campaigns, but no candidate cares about animals, which are also in everyday life, because these mute, needy creatures do not have the right to vote." That is why, Çıtarak said, HAYTAP came up with the slogan, "They do not have the right to vote, but we do."

"We will not vote for politicians who do not recognize and protect animals’ rights to live," Çıtırık said, adding that members of the group have visited the current mayors during the campaign and made presentations to them. Although their campaign has drawn attention, it is not enough, she said. "Our primary goal is to have all candidates to sign the covenant."

"We still cannot free ourselves from the culture of shooting, poisoning and killing stray and needy animals," Çıtırık said.

"The municipalities still poison animals mercilessly in metropolises and leave them for dead. The animals at municipal shelters are hungry and thirsty. There is no shortage of mountains, forests and plains in this world, but they are stuck in spaces measured by square meters. The animals are living in high security prison conditions in these shelters. The savagery there does not match our society’s virtues and traditions."

The mistreatmeht of animals became an especially important issue in Istanbul after it was discovered that a few city pounds were providing subpar treatment. Even better pounds were found to be engaging in mistreatment with the worst offenders starving and grievously endangering animal lives. Most stray animals in the cities get by with the help of neighborhood animal lovers who take care to feed street cats and dogs. Many vet clinics in such areas will also provide free or reduced cost services to stray animals brought in by caring strangers.

HAYTAPhas other projects in the works to alleviate animal suffering in Turkey like the concert with Turkish rapper Ceza and pop diva Sezen Aksu on March 31 to raise awareness of animal rights issues.