On International Animal Rights Day (IARD) and Human Rights Day – let’s make a pledge to respect the rights of all beings that live on our planet, writes Deepa Desa
Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10 — the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
This milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being – regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
In 1998, individuals, organisations, and associations from all over the world demanded that this should be extended to the other animals with which we share the planet, and that December 10 should also be International Animal Rights Day. Humans are also animals, but animals are voiceless. Billions of other sentient beings – capable of feeling and thinking like us – become our victims every year as a result of the species they belong to.
2020 Theme of the UN: Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights
This year’s Human Rights Day theme relates to the Covid-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to recovery efforts. We will reach our common global goals only if we are able to create equal opportunities for all, address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19, and apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.
International Animal Rights Day (IARD) – which also falls on December 10 – aims to remember the animal victims of human tyranny and call for the recognition of a Universal Declaration of Animal Rights (UDAR).
The goal of this day is to build on the recognition of human rights and persuade humanity that kindness and respect is due to all sentient creatures. That animals have rights which need to be respected as well.
Ethical pioneers unite today, to remember the billions of animals subjected to deliberate cruelty and killing across the world every year. This day calls for coordinated global day of action- for the recognition of the rights of all sentient beings to life, liberty, and natural enjoyment.
It is time to think and remind ourselves every day, of how we have been mistreating and killing these animals for hundreds of years, whether it is for meat, fun, entertainment, art or in the name of religion.
Humans beings ought to accept that we don’t “own” the planet. We are also one of the animal species who share space on earth with billions of other sentient beings- like birds, cats cows, dogs, elephants, pangolins, rhinoceros, horses, goats, monkeys, fish, silkworms, pigs, camels, sea creatures, etc. who suffer and die at our hands every year.
As seniors, perhaps we can do our part by gently educating people on how to respect animals. Experience has shown us that there is no point starting a fight or shouting, though watching atrocities can be very nerve-wrecking. Seniors have age, experience and wisdom, that can be used well in teaching people what goes into protecting our natural habitat and preserving the sanctity of our planet.
- We stopped riding horses and camels and for fun, hit or kick them to run faster to win a race?
- We stopped using horses in the name of culture at weddings; do you know how terrified they are of loud crackers and drums?
- We respected our “holy”’ cows. Instead of tying them on a short noose anywhere we feel like, keeping them dark, dingy, dirty rooms, tearing calves away from their screaming mothers, because we want money for their milk.
- We treated our stray cats and dogs with more understanding and love instead of relocating them to unknown areas, abandoning them, culling them, letting them starve.
- We kept our wild animals and beings of the sea, in the wild and oceans where they belong? Instead of in caged environs for our viewing pleasure?
- We stopped killing sheep silkworms and silk moths? Can we live without cashmere and silk?
- We halt the use of monkeys for entertainment and in unjustified lab tests that kill them in invasive, painful, and terrifying experiments.
- We don’t patronise tourism that feeds off animals- performing dolphins, touring civet plantations and need we say more?
This global day of action is profound, and it has intensified calls for the recognition of the rights of all beings- to life, liberty and natural enjoyment.
Perhaps make a pledge to self, that we will do our bit to make the earth a more habitable place for all the beings who belong to it.