The Yulin Festival has been practiced for decades, yet it has only recently come into public light due to the shocking nature behind its reality. Thousands of cats and dogs are stolen from their domestic caring homes, every single year in order to take part in this barbaric event. These animals are transported in wired cages which are not fit to let them breathe comfortably or give them any chance of movement, to the city of Yulin, China. The long journey then begins for these souls as they travel for miles and miles with no water or food, causing a large proportion of them to die before they even reach their destination, in this case: death row. Some may argue this fate is better than that which will fall upon their survivor peers, however the real question is, why is this happening at all?
It is fair to argue that dogs and cats are like any other animals we consume in our diets. We kill chickens, cows and pigs for the same purpose, however the chilling controversy is the method behind their execution and the reasoning used to justify it. This festival believes in the torture of loving animals that so many of us consider as companions and loyal pets in our homes. These cats and dogs will be subject to a plethora of torture methods ranging from being skinned and boiled alive to being set alight or being cut at the throat. Not to mention the multiple diseases these animals acquire by living in squalor.
The reasoning behind this practice? The Chinese believe that torturing the animals releases adrenaline into their muscles which allows their meat to gain a greater flavour. For a society that boasts being progressive and evolutionary, with its impressive economic growth and technological advancements, it hides the most medieval and hideous practices.
The horror continues as those who are waiting in line, must watch their fellow kind being subjected to this painful end. As is often known, dogs and cats in particular are emotional creatures, they can sense pain, happiness and fear, thus imagine the ordeal they must be going through sitting on the grungy floor surrounded by the carcasses of their own while waiting to be summoned.
It is a sad thought that humanity today, is still practicing these atrocious methods and all for the sake of tradition or for the sake of continuity of culture. The disparity of values is a shock to the system. Here in Britain, dogs in particular, are seen as saviours within the public service. They perform duties ranging from helping the army make patrols in Afghanistan to helping those with impairments. They are also fiercely loyal and fun companions and compete in KRUFTS and even perform in front of her Royal Majesty the Queen. In China however, being a minority they are simply pieces of meat ready to be abused in order to fulfil a tradition. The waste of potential in this barbaric practice, is almost unfathomable to believe.
In the developed world, we follow a model of society which praises democracy, human rights and the need to have opinions voiced and taken into account. We argue the importance of not becoming voiceless, and emphasize how without free speech change can never be achieved. Humans, are far from voiceless. We have the most powerful gift of all: communication. Yet we abuse this gift on a daily basis when we choose to ignore its potency and focus only on ourselves rather than those who truly are voiceless.
The animals of Yulin, and all those around the world who are subject to abuse every single day have no way of objecting to the ordeals we put them under, they truly are the voiceless ones of today’s generation. If injustice is served amongst humans, we complain, we take legal action, we riot and cause controversy in the media until the situation is rectified. How are these animals supposed to take the same path if we are the ones delivering injustice?
The Yulin Festival was officially shut down as of last year and authorities promised it was to be banned, yet thousands of household pets and strays sit in those barbed cages waiting for the hell that is about to descend upon them, some of them still wearing their collars. Locals continue with this festival by tiptoeing around formalities, and the government promises the festival has ended but these are mere words. Removing dog meat off the menus and having stopped calling it a ‘festival’ does not mean it has stopped. Hiding behind a failed system and ultimately a failed democracy is what fuels this controversy’s ability to continue, despite over two million Chinese residents having protested for the slaughter to stop alongside multiple animal rights charities, but all to no avail.
The festival has amassed more and more followers who wanted this year’s ‘celebrations’, which took place on the 22nd of June, to stop. It has also been subject to exposure due to social media users, in particular, comedian Ricky Gervais, an active animal rights campaigner who has used his platform effectively to increase the number of signatures needed to stop the mass slaughter.
We often undermine our power as individuals to make change and overthrow those pretentious governments who claim to exercise mass control. As a collective species, it is our responsibility to direct our voices in the right direction, especially towards those who are truly voiceless.