CAIRO: The Australian Embassy has a new flower bouquet to display, following yesterday’s present from sheep across the region. Jason Baker, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for Asia Pacific, donned a sheep suit while presenting the flowers in commemoration of Australia’s temporary ban on live animal exports to the Middle East.
“We were there to encourage and praise the government for the temporary ban, Baker tells The Daily Star Egypt. “I don’t think they will be able to raise [it] in the near future either.
The Australian government has suspended exports to Egypt after PETA revealed the numerous abuses apparent in transporting live animals and after they reach the region.
“The animals get to Egypt and they are exhausted with lowered immune systems, explains Baker. “Often their tendons are slit simply so the butchers can get the cows to tip over and be slaughtered . it is an archaic way of treating animals and would be illegal in Australia.
Approximately four million sheep alone are sent to the Middle East. According to Baker, tens of thousands of those die in transport each year.
“They die of dehydration, starvation and even some simply stop eating, says Baker.
PETA last week showed footage of cattle being stabbed, slashed and stunned with knives and metal poles in Egyptian abattoirs – it was shown on Australian 60 Minutes.
The Australians have done the right thing by suspending exports. But temporary bans will not work. This industry is too cruel, Baker said after delivering the flowers.
“The footage was meant to show the horrific conditions in Egypt, adds Baker. “We are extremely pleased that the Australian government has taken these steps to help end the unnecessary suffering of animals. Egypt imports livestock from various countries including Australia in order to slaughter them at home according to the Islamic practice of halal, in which the animal must be slaughtered with a razor-sharp knife without being stunned. The group said Egypt had not answered its petitions so far, but Australian Ambassador Robert Bowker said there was no thought being given to a permanent ban.
What the Australian and Egyptian governments are doing is to bring about an arrangement to improve the treatment of animals and to resume exports as soon as possible, Bowker told AFP.
Baker says that PETA has been trying to get the government to change their ways, adding that the group has shown officials footage of the carnage over the past few years, although nothing has been accomplished save empty promises.
“Each time the government says they are making changes, but nothing ever happens . that is why we took it to the Australian 60 Minutes, says Baker. PETA kicked off its campaign in Dubai last week and was set to continue with Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman. I m hot and I m dying of thirst, Baker bleated, sweating in his woolly costume. But this is nothing compared with the suffering of the animals.
“However, I want to make it clear that this is not just specific to Egypt – it is the entire Middle East, and they must begin to understand that they also have to stop importing from Australia, adds Baker.