In an effort to prevent unimaginable cruelty, Animals Australia is making a wide-scale appeal to Australian sheep farmers in the lead up to the "Festival of Sacrifice".
Update: Our grateful thanks go to the many supporters who helped fund our full page open letters in newspapers in recent weeks appealing to farmers to not send their animals to the Middle East for the Festival of Sacrifice. This important initiative generated extensive media coverage including prime time airing of footage obtained by Animals Australia's investigators at last year's festival on Channel 9's A Current Affair.
Animals Australia's appeal to farmers also resulted in major articles in Western Australia (the West Australian Newspaper and The Countryman), the major farming newspaper in Victoria (the Weekly Times) and in local papers in regional areas in WA, SA and Victoria that supply sheep for live export. Regional radio and Win TV in Western Australia and South Australia also reported on the initiative, again showing Animals Australia footage. Several articles on the rural website ‘farmonline’ led to reader comments and debate that lasted for much of the week, and ABC radio broadcast interviews with Glenys Oogjes both nationally and in several regional areas. The campaign initiative reached hundreds of thousands of Australians and importantly put the spotlight firmly on Australia's live exporters culpability in supplying animals to countries where there are no laws to protect them from cruel treatment.
Only a fraction of the footage obtained by Animals Australia investigators in the lead up to last year's Festival of Sacrifice in the Middle East (Eid-al-Adha) could be aired on A Current Affair this week (22/10/08), as much of the routine animal cruelty documented by investigators was considered 'too upsetting' for public viewing.
The live export industry is well aware that the three day Festival of Sacrifice (this year in early December) represents the peak time for animal suffering in the Middle East. Animals Australia investigators documented traumatised Australian sheep being dragged by their horns and fleece, tied up, thrown onto trucks or shoved into car boots before being 'sacrificed' by having their throats cut whilst fully conscious. During this festival, animals are slaughtered in abattoirs, private homes, driveways, stairwells, or in the street.
Much of the treatment that occurs during the Eid is contrary to Islamic teachings which preach kindness to animals—but with no laws to prevent it, such treatment has come to be considered acceptable. The willingness of Australia's live export industry to supply hundreds of thousands of sheep for this festival reinforces the local belief that this treatment of animals is acceptable.
Despite being fully aware of the scale of this animal suffering, the live export industry will again attempt to fill ships with terrified Australian sheep destined for this fate. Many Australian sheep farmers are not aware of the increased risk of cruel treatment during this religious festival. Animals Australia believes that if fully informed, many Australian farmers would refuse to export animals to this fate.
In the coming weeks, Animals Australia will be publishing full-page open letters in rural newspapers, informing sheep farmers of the cruelty that awaits Australian animals in the Middle East, and offering indisputable video evidence obtained by Animals Australia investigators over the past two years. Click here to read the letter.
Animals Australia's investigations have been responsible for stopping the export of sheep to Egypt for this festival. Rather than sourcing animals from other countries, Egypt responded by increasing its chilled meat imports, leading to an overall reduction of animal suffering in the country. If Aussie farmers refuse send animals to other Middle Eastern countries, then more animals will be spared from unimaginable cruelty.