Dog-meat festival sparks fights between locals, activists

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-23 0:53:01

Pian Shankong, an animal protection activist, kneels down to apologize to dogs for not being able to protect them as workers prepare carcasses for food at a market in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, on Saturday. Photo: IC

Debates over animal rights versus local tradition have escalated into cursing and fighting in Yulin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, as a local festival featuring the eating of dog meat and lychees on the Summer Solstice returned Saturday. 

Crowds flooded Yulin's Jiangbin Road Saturday night where many dog meat restaurants are located. Police and members of the People's Armed Police were also visible with police cars guarding the crossroads.

Days of argument eventually turned to physical conflict, after a customer at a local dog meat restaurant was left with a jaw injury after allegedly being attacked by several animal rights activists. Both sides were taken away by police, according to the Oriental Morning Post.

Many local residents said that they would stick to the tradition of eating dog meat and two banners were seen on the street reading that people should uphold tradition and respect the laws, reported the Legal Mirror.

Cooked dog meat reached a record high 50 yuan ($8.03) per kilogram Saturday in comparison with the usual price tag of no more than 20 yuan. Many dog vendors claimed that they were expecting to sell their dogs to animal rights activists for a higher price.

Li Mingze, one vendor, sold four dogs at 700 yuan to a group of animal lovers, while Yang Xiaoyun, a dog lover, bought 11 dogs on Saturday, media reported.

Confrontations with animal rights activists went on Saturday.

Pian Shankong, an animal rights activist, was soon surrounded by crowds as he chanted Buddhist scriptures for the dead dogs on Saturday evening. Yang was also seen quarreling with dog vendors.

After 1,395 inspection tours of local dog meat restaurants as of Friday, 4 unlicensed ones were shut down, while 17 others have closed under pressure from public opinion, according to Chen Taotao, deputy director of the drug and food administration in Yulin, reported the Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News.

The festival has attracted massive attention in the past week, with many worried that the debate has entered an impasse as both sides label the other as immoral and refuse to talk rationally.

Others questioned local government's vague response and passive measures, saying it could have pioneered in carrying out strict slaughtering regulations to prevent abuse behaviors and gain understanding from at least some activists.

Read more in Daily Special: Uproar over dog meat calls tradition into question

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