A couple of days ago I was sent a link to sign the petition to end the YuLin festival and it got me thinking about what happened last year. Unfortunately, most people found out about the disturbing YuLin festival almost a week before the actual event from celebrities like Ricky Gervais and the #StopYuLin2015 trend. There was a moment of outrage that was enough to gain awareness across the world, but did not manage to sway the political forces to end the festival.
In this situation you cannot help but feel completely helpless the most that people felt that they could practically do last year was create a hastag, make it trend and sign a petition – which feels as though that could be the outcome this year. Now I don’t want to divert attention from the real problem at hand but one thing that I would say was completely unfair was the selective outrage over the public slaughter of dogs when we are fully aware that animals are slaughtered for meat everyday across the world albeit inside buildings. Not only are we completely sheltered from the horrors that animals face but we willingly choose not acknowledge it and save ourselves from being scarred by the graphic images. But sometimes that is exactly what we need! In our everyday lives we have become so accustomed to seeing meat neatly packaged in a plastic tray that we completely detach the idea of meat from a living creature altogether.
After I had signed the petition I decided to do some research into the dog meat festival itself to find out more about how the tradition had come about. I managed to find out that the tradition of eating dog meat has existed in the Far East for approximately 400-500 years. In the city of YuLin, dog meat is usually eaten with lychee during the summer to cool the body from the scorching heat (lychee juice could have done the job by itself really). Strangely enough the actual festival itself is not part of an age old tradition, but rather has formed in recent years to mark the Summer Solstice. The very fact that there are tensions between the people of Yulin over this festival makes clear that there is no real need for this. The Chinese government themselves have acknowledged the problems that can follow if they allow the festival to continue, not just for the animals but also for their own political structure and reputation. (Whether the Chinese government intervenes and acts on this global outrage is another thing.) What makes it worse is that many of the dogs are stolen pets and are found on the street which just seems all the more unreasonable to allow the theft of pets and the promotion of unhygienic dog meat all for the sake of a festival.
In China there are many animal rights advocates that have been forming networks in order to collectively bring awareness, and justice, for animals which for the Chinese government could be threatening if they choose to sweep the concerns of festival under the rug. The Duo Duo project, an organization dedicated to ending the dog and cat meat trade, is one of organizations that are at the forefront of bringing more awareness about the festival with the hope that they can make political changes and end the festival. The executive director of the Duo Duo project, Andrea Gung, is in fact the one that has set up the petition that I was sent.
There are currently over 2 million signatures on the Change.org petition to the YuLin City Governor, Mr Chen Wu, and we need just over 900,000 signatures; so I have embedded the petition below for you all to sign, please do sign and share!
Let’s hope that this year the Yulin Festival is more than just a hashtag.