Save Pasargad Committee
Bear's Torture Commemorated with Day Against Animal Cruelty
By: Fred Petrossian
Celebrating ‘Day Against Cruelty to Animals'. Photo by Shima Jalaeiyan
Last year in Iran, a brown bear and her cubs were tortured and killed on camera as a game by “hunters” in Samirom, Isfahan. It shocked many Iranians from different walks of life.
The video of the killing was shared by animal rights groups on 20 September, 2011 and this motivated activists to name 20 September a “Day Against Cruelty to Animals”. This year the day was marked for the first time (photo above) and “Brown Bear Awards” were distributed to animal rights activists.
Interview with an animal rights defender
Sepher Salimi, Animal rights activist
Global Voices has conducted an interview with Sepehr Salimi, a blogger and animal rights activist who has used online citizen media for years to spread the word about animal protection:
Global Voices (GV): How do you evaluate the role of social media and citizen media to raise awarness regarding animal rights in Iran?
Sepehr Salimi (SS): Whereas social media has significant impact on people's awareness of animal rights, conventional media sources such as radio and television have a greater effect. Unfortunately, in Iran, there is no platform for awareness and involvement in protecting animal rights, so the responsibility is left to animal activists.
We cannot forget that Iran is a vast country. Its rural areas, which are most closely connected with wildlife, are unfortunately unable to obtain access to media and learn about animal rights. One of the benefits of citizen media is the rapid spread of information. In addition; most of the citizens in different parts of Iran play their own role in animal rights and wildlife watch. Fortunately, websites and weblogs related to animal rights and environmental protection have expanded greatly in recent years. This led to our great achievement in increasing awareness and involvement in the fight to protect our environment and animals’ rights.
GV: What are the main challenges animal rights activists face in Iran?
Without a doubt, the biggest challenge is the lack of laws protecting animal
rights, so when abuse does occur there is no legal process to rebuke the guilty
parties and there is no institutional conduit in place where animal activists
can bring their grievances. Public awareness is low and misconceptions among
people about animal rights causes more cruelty to animals as well. In addition,
lack of support by influential people such as artists and athletes in this area
can lessen the rate of spreading information and can diminish civic engagement.
Furthermore there are a number of manifestations of animal cruelty such as
poorly managed zoos, excessive hunting, and destruction of animal habitats by
building industrial facilities and roads through protected areas. These
obstacles keep us from protecting our country's environment and wildlife.
Our country is geographically located in an arid climate. The shortage of water amplifies the effect of human activity in relationship to destroying the environment.
GV: I frequently hear some people say, why do you go after animal rights, when human rights are still not respected in Iran? What is your answer to this “complaint”?
SS: I think that there is no separation between these two and if we just look at this on a larger scale we can understand that the main purpose of both groups is to live in a better world. When we reach a level that we can respect for the environment and animal rights, then we will be able to respect each other. That is the main reason I think that there should not be any distinction between these two causes. I've seen a lot of cases where animal abuse began in childhood and grew into cruelty towards humans in adulthood. For instance, if you remember the tragic event last summer in Norway where an avid hunter shot and killed over 100 people. The famous anthropologist, Albert Schweitzer, said that 90% of criminals participate in and enjoy torturing and killing animals at in early age. The FBI identifies this as common trait in serial killers. In conclusion, for having a healthy society there must be no separation in animal and human rights. We are all inhabitants of this world. So by trespassing into their habitat we violate their rights. So now more than ever it is our responsibility to protect them.
کميته بين المللی نجات پاسارگاد