Dog meat signs covered up, Yulin.
June 2015 and, once again, the world is witnessing the macabre spectacle of the Yulin 'festival', the Auschwitz (or an Auschwitz for it is not unique) prepared for dogs and cats in China, where folks gather and make merry on the backs of thousands of suffering animals. Once again they have been stolen or picked off the streets, crammed together into tiny cages and trafficked hundreds of miles without food or water until their final destination - a place of utter horror, a filthy concrete dungeon where they will be boiled, clubbed, chopped or skinned alive.
Leading campaign group NoToDogMeat have been actively trying to stop the horror of this summer's solstice of greed and barbarism. For a moment it looked like we were about to meet with success as it was hinted that it was to be banned this year. However it has already started.
There has been a rising awareness of what happens at Yulin. Last year a lady called Yang Xiaoyun or 'Mrs Yang' who rescues dogs went to Yulin personally. The subsequent photos of her pleading with cynical and heartless dealers were seen all over and have become emblematic of the event.
This year the campaign has gone mainstream and celebrities internationally have chosen to speak out. For the NoToDogMeat campaign Family Guy Star Lori Alan, and Spongebob Squarepants aka Tom Kenney have made impassioned pleas to the media. Type 'Yulin' into twitter right now and you will see there is a new tweet every few seconds. In fact, a year long #StopYulin2015 tweet campaign has taken place - regularly trending world-wide. Chinese activists have mounted protests, dozens of petitions have been written. There has been increasing pressure on Yulin officials from within China to ban the event but so far they have only made attempts to subdue its visibility - covering up the word 'dog meat' on signs. To some extent it has gone behind closed doors.
Chinese activists on their way to protest.
But despite the seemingly implacable Yulin authorities there are signs of hope and there is every reason for us to continue the fight against the dog and cat meat trade which happens all over China and in other countries such as South Korea and Vietnam too.
As individuals there is much we can contribute. From full-time activism to helping out when and where we can, taking the small opportunities, collectively we can succeed by raising a storm. We can all continue to speak out publicly wherever possible: social media, tweetstorms, local and national newspapers, radio, letter writing, email, telephoning Chinese politicians and authorities. We must support the Chinese activists both morally and financially for they are on the front line. Mrs Yang is right now in Yulin once again. NoToDogMeat has a fundraiser set up for her and she has already received funds today.
NoToDogMeat also regularly protests to the Chinese and Korean embassies in several countries and all are welcome to join us.
But we must also see the bigger picture. My hope, having been vegetarian my whole adult life, is that the visceral response to this will raise the profile of meat-eating in general - how our beliefs and treatment of animals are shaped by convenience rather than what is truly right and moral. Dogs and cats are indeed uniquely tuned in to the human psyche having evolved together as companions over thousands of years to a point where they can communicate and express themselves with us and we see things through their eyes. And we intuitively know that their experience is much like our own. Other sentient animals are not so lucky. Yulin is an extreme example of human nature in action - how we can help perpetrate or ignore atrocities right under our own noses. Many people who abhor Yulin will happily acquiesce to similar treatment of animals such as cows and pigs simply because we have been taught to compartmentalise them separately in our minds. The current Macdonalds tv advert with the purple cartoon cow is a prime example of how we sugar-coat the horrific. Yet we all descend from the same ancestors - we are relatives in the most real, scientific sense. Imagine the fear and the pain these creatures suffer. It is heinous and heartbreaking. It is devastating to me that we live in a world where this happens.
Another Huffpo blogger Wayne Hsiung wrote just two days ago "Rising global agitation for animals, in the face of attempts by industry to suppress the flow of video footage, portend a movement for animals that is on the cusp of exploding". . I truly believe and pray we can make this statement true! Don't forget, stay informed - information is our weapon. Encourage the media to report, sharing news articles, photographs and images. Let's not stop until we succeed.
To support the brave activists in China and the charity's work: http://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/yulin2015
To sign our petition to the UN : http://chn.ge/1QvIaSd
For more information on the campaign : http://www.notodogmeat.com