Turkey's first animal rights political party, the Animal Party, was established this week in an effort to bring the issue of the protection of animal's rights and welfare to the political table.
Speaking in an interview with the online news site Bianet last week, party member Neslihan Demir said the aim of the party was not just to promote love for animals but to remind those who view the world solely in terms of humans that we live together with animals and that they have rights, too.
Demir said that over the years many countries have taken steps to establish political parties to protect the welfare of animals and bring their rights onto the political agenda. “The Dutch political party ‘Party for the Animals' currently holds two seats in the Dutch parliament, but realistically we are not aiming to be represented in Parliament, however, we do hope to work together and have a say in the new constitution,” Demir said.
The Party for the Animals was established in Holland by Marianne Thieme in 2002 and currently holds two of the 150 seats in the country's House of Representatives and one of the 75 seats in the Senate.
Demir said the members of the new party are aware that they face an uphill battle with regard to convincing many of the need for such a party but noted that honoring the rights of animals has historically been viewed as important in Turkey.
“There are always those who are cynical and say ‘First look to protect the rights of humans, then animals.' However in the past it wasn't like this,” she said, adding that during the Ottoman era in Turkey there were laws and mandates relating to the protection of horses and donkeys used for pulling carts and carriages as well as efforts to care for birds, cats and dogs.
Demir said the group is against hunting, pet shops and the use of fireworks, which are not only dangerous for birds but also for other animals who become startled and disorientated by explosions. “In effect we want to end the perception that animals are goods and property to be abused and used as people please,” Demir said, adding that the group supported the work of Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Melda Onur, who has been pushing for the law to be changed on punishment for those who abuse animals.
Demir said in order to become a member of the party you don't have to have a pet living in your house or feel obliged to feed cats on the street or pet every dog you see. “All the Animal Party wants is for those who see mankind as the only living beings that matter to open their eyes and revise their perceptions,” she said.
The Animal Party's first meeting is to take place in the form of a conference on dogs on March 24. The conference will be addressing a number of topics, including dogs in urban environments, the place of dogs in history and dogs in Islam. The conference will take place at Şehir University and run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Kurdish party says it will apply to parliament to lift immunity from all MPs amid rancor over PKK accusations
Turkish President Erdogan will visit China, his first since he took presidency in 2014 and will be signing a number of agreements.
An emergency meeting of NATO is being held in Brussels at the request of Turkey on Tuesday.
"It is not possible for us to continue the peace process with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood," said Erdogan, who told a news conference in Ankara ahead of his departure on an official visit to China.
Support for Turkey stems from Gulf state’s ‘consistent stance against violence, terror,’ according to Qatari FM
Aselsan has signed a contract for the supply of a Tactical Area Communications System
Counter-terrorism police arrested suspects in eastern Mus province following Monday night shooting
Plans for a security zone in northern Syria dominates Tuesday's headlines
Turkey seeks to make NATO understend "their intentions correctly"
This will be Erdogan's first visit to China since 2012
Conflict with PKK 'in the past brought so much suffering and grief to the people of Turkey', says Ban Ki-moon
Turkish PM warns against the misconception that since Turkey is going through a transitional period, its security forces are incapable of taking measures
Turkish president informs the leaders about Turkey's anti-terrorist operations
Wednesday meeting will follow Turkish airstrikes on PKK, ISIL
Air strikes by Turkish air forces against ISIL and PKK could change the regions politics
Risk analysis centers at airports, improved border security are among efforts to stop militant recruits