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Originally Posted: October 10, 2012
FROM Animals Asia
We are desperate to ensure that the rescue centre is not closed down and relocated. The welfare of 104 bears, who have already suffered enough, would be seriously compromised, and the rescue centre and US$2 million in donations would be lost. We’re calling on the public, and the media, both in Vietnam and overseas to urgently appeal to the Prime Minister of Vietnam for justice, and to let him know their feelings on this terrible threat to the bears’ welfare...Jill Robinson, founder, Animals Asia)
Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam Director, Animals Asia commented: Animals Asia is calling on the public in Vietnam and worldwide to appeal to the Prime Minister to allow the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre that he previously approved and endorsed to continue operations and expand in line with the government’s original agreement.
Sign an online petition (copy/paste URL into your browser):
And/or better yet, make direct contact:
Embassy of Vietnam in Canada
470 Wilbrod Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6M8 Canada
(613) 236 0772
(613) 236 1398 (Consular)
fax +1-613-236 2704
email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
website URL: www.vietnamembassy-canada.ca
Embassy of Vietnam - United States
1233 20th St NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20036
phone (202) 861-0737
fax (202) 861-0917
Embassy of Vietnam - United Kingdom
12-14 Victoria Road,
London W8 5RD
phone 0207 937 1912
fax 0207 565 3853 or 0207 937 6108
Nguyễn Tấn Dũng, Prime Minister
Socialist Republic of Vietnam
Office of the State
1 Bach Thao
fax + 845 5464
INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS
Animals Asia’s Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre faces eviction from Tam Dao National Park, following an aggressive campaign by the park director, Do Dinh Tien.
On Friday 5 October, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) informed Animals Asia that the Ministry of Defence has issued an order to evict the sanctuary operation and its 104 rescued bears. This follows Mr Tien lobbying the Ministry of Defence to declare the sanctuary to be an area of “national defence significance”.
Mr Tien has been pressuring Animals Asia to relinquish the land since April 2011. It is believed that he intends to hand it over to the Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock Company, in which his daughter has an investment. This company has submitted an application for development of an “eco-tourism park” and hotels on the site.
The closure of the rescue centre would have a severe impact:
Campaign against the rescue centre:
Mr Tien and the Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock Company have been lobbying the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, within MARD, to approve the real estate development.
Mr Tien’s daughter is one of four founding members of the Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock Company and holds 10 percent of the company’s shares. Mr Tien has not publicly disclosed this information.
Following interventions by local embassies, international organisations and European Ministers, as well as significant media attention, MARD intervened to issue a directive on 26 April 2012 ordering the park director to allocate the land to the bear rescue centre in line with the original agreement with Animals Asia.
Mr Tien then spread misinformation, in an attempt to block construction of the third outdoor bear enclosure, that waste pollution from the rescue centre was damaging the environment and health of the local community. He requested that the Ministry of Agriculture close down the rescue centre and relocate the bears. Following an exhaustive investigation by the Vinh Phuc environmental department, the bear centre was cleared of all allegations.
Mr Tien then began lobbying the Ministry of Defence to apply pressure on the Ministry of Agriculture to stop the rescue centre’s planned development.
The claim that the land in question is an area of national defence significance is questionable, given that the centre has been in operation since 2005 and that the Chat Dau Valley, where it is located, has been used for tourism and other private purposes since the park opened in 1996.
It is believed that once the bear centre is forced to close, the land will be declared to no longer be of national defence significance, allowing the Truong Giang Joint Stock Company to take it over for private development.
The eviction is in direct violation of the Vietnam government’s 2005 agreement with Animals Asia to fund and develop a facility on 12 hectares of the park that would permanently rehabilitate and house 200 endangered bears rescued from the illegal bear bile industry. Based on this agreement, Animals Asia has invested more than US$2 million in building and infrastructure.
Currently 104 bears are living at the rescue centre, being rehabilitated after years of trauma from being locked up in small cages and painfully drained of their bile. These bears will be forced to return to cages to be relocated, which will have a major negative impact on their mental and physical well-being. It is likely to take at least two years to establish a new centre with outdoor enclosures, forcing the bears back into cages on a long-term basis.
The case will now go to the Prime Minister of Vietnam for a final decision. Due to the powerful status of the Ministry of Defence, it is feared that the Prime Minister will be forced to agree with the recommendation to close the centre.
“We hope the Prime Minister is made aware that the directive he issued in 2008 is being undermined by a park director and his undue influence over the Ministry of Defence. This is not a defence issue; it's an issue of profit. We believe Mr Tien seeks to benefit from land that the Prime Minister promised for the bears that have suffered in Vietnam’s bile trade for too long.”
“This one man, whose daughter stands to directly profit from the relocation of the centre, should not be allowed this much power.”
Tuan Bendixsen, Vietnam Director, Animals Asia commented:
Animals Asia is calling on the public in Vietnam and worldwide to appeal to the Prime Minister to allow the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre that he previously approved and endorsed to continue operations and expand in line with the government’s original agreement.
Thank you for everything you do for animals!