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Turkish animal rights activist meet the Prime Minister for stringent animal cruelty laws2 March 2011
On February 23rd Turkish animal rights activists met with the prime minister to urge the government to pass stringent laws against animal abuse, increase the quality of shelter services and prohibit dolphin aquariums in Turkey.
During the meeting between animal rights activists, the Istanbul mayor and the Turkish Prime Minister, activists asked for support for the passing of a bill which is proposed by the İstanbul Bar Association’s Animal Rights Commission, also backed by a number of government deputies. The bill seeks to place animal abuse under the Turkish Penal Code and make crimes against animals punishable with jail sentences of at least three years.
The bill also introduces sanctions that will ban a person convicted of animal abuse from employment in jobs around children, such as schools or school cafeterias, hospitals and other medical facilities.
During the meeting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pledged to support the bill and strengthen the current law on animal abuse after the upcoming general elections in June. The Istanbul mayor also promised that no dolphin aquariums would be opened in Istanbul and shelter employees would be better trained to handle animals in their care.
Lawyer Hülya Yalçın, who heads the Animal Rights Commission, said that that if the so called bill is passed, it would make significant changes to the lives of many animals in Turkey.
The bill for example will categorize cockfights and bullfights as cruelty to animals.
During the meeting the Head of HAYTAP (Animal Rights Federation) Ahmet Kemal Şenpolat brought attention to some websites which broadcast animal fights and provided site visitors with the opportunity to bet on the outcome of the fight for money. Senpolat stated that “We also demanded a change to the current Internet Law [to protect animals from being exploited in fights” .
Justice and Development Party Parliamentary Group Deputy Chairwoman Ayşe Nur Bahçekapılı also supports the bill.
She told Today’s Zaman that the bill ensures the protection of animals from abuse, noting that it was currently under review in the relevant parliamentary commission. “We are trying to bring the bill to Parliament’s agenda before the election. If we can’t do it in time, then this bill will be passed after the elections,” Bahçekapılı said.
During the meeting the animal rights activist were accompanied by a delegation of eminent figures from across Turkish society, including pop singers, journalists and actresses whom have been calling for stringent laws through sit-ins, rallies and demonstrations for the past 2 years.