From Mahesh Sharma,
Animal Network Nepal
'As tourists are abhorred by such practices, the festivals will have an adverse effect on tourism, an industry which provides the country with much-needed financial returns'
FROM: Animal Welfare Network Nepal
TO: Chief of Army Staff
Army Head Quarters Kathmandu
Kathmandu, March 15, 2010
Dear General Chhatraman Singh Gurung,
The members of the Animal Welfare Network Nepal respectfully ask you to do everything within your power to permanently cancel blood sacrifices conducted by the Nepal Army, starting this Chaite Dasain.
Safeguarding democracy, promoting peace, protecting the lives of the country’s citizens and acceleration of development are some of key responsibilities of the Nepal Army. Outdated practices based on superstition which deplete the resources of the poor we trust are not part of your mandate.
Nevertheless the Nepal Army is one of the key implementers of animal sacrifice, a practice that promotes superstition and violence, drains the poor and prevents Nepal from becoming a truly advanced country.
No one can adequately explain why these practices are carried out year after year – except to say they are ‘traditional’. This however is not a valuable argument to commence these practices; Nepal, realizing the adverse effects, has abolished a number of ‘traditions’ in the past, including human sacrifice and widow burning.
It could be that our martial ancestors, while unifying the country and fighting invaders, had to harden their hearts. It may be a part of our tradition that the khukuri wielded in the battlefields first had to draw the blood of sacrificial animals. However, our enemies today are not demons. It is superstition, fatalism, poverty and social inequity that plagues our society. We will defeat and overcome these ills by being more humane and caring ourselves, by showing civilized behaviour. Decapitating a bleating buffalo or goat should not be the symbol of the Nepali civilisation.
We feel the time has come to abolish the above practice for the following reasons:
1. Violent impact - Cruelty against animals harms society as a whole; it signals and normalizes insensitivity in children who can become numb to the suffering of living beings, it is also known to influence certain people to commit violence on other humans. Now that the armed conflict has ended Nepal needs peaceful practices that educate the next generation for a harmonious society.
2. Vested interests strengthened - Sacrifices often strengthen the vested interest of those who benefit from superstition-based beliefs and rituals. As Nepal is moving ahead to become a more fully democratic, egalitarian society, it is crucial to challenge age-old beliefs which are not beneficial and drain the resources of the poor and needy.
3. There are alternatives – National and international religious leaders with massive following in Nepal have proposed fruits and vegetables in place of animal sacrifice. This is the right time to address the controversial issue of animal sacrifice and show that the Nepal Army indeed is a progressive force in society.
4. Adverse impact on tourism - As tourists are abhorred by such practices, the festivals will have an adverse effect on tourism, an industry which provides the country with much-needed financial returns. Those foreigners who experience or come to know the extent of sacrifice in this country leave Nepal confused and with a heavy heart, rather than uplifted by its paradoxical beauty and friendliness.
5. Danger of widespread human disease – Unregulated sacrifice of large numbers of animals creates a health risks for humans. Due to the fact that the transport, killing, disposal and preparation of the animals and their meat goes unmonitored and the close proximity between humans and animals, there is an increased danger of zoonosis including bird and swine flu outbreaks.
We urge you to end the violent practices at this Chaite Dasain and all festivals to come and help Nepal move towards a truly peaceful country, and in keeping with its international image.
We trust that you will support these measures, which are becoming more
popular by the day around the globe and promote non-violent cultural practices
Animal Welfare Network Nepal
c/o Animal Nepal
PO Box 7770, Kathmandu, Ekantakuna