BEIJING – After several years of protests, authorities have finally banned the sale of dog meat in the Yulin (in southern China) festival, which is celebrated on June 21 every year in the city, according to a statement by activists Thursday.
According to the statement by China’s Duo Duo Project and Humane Society International of the United Kingdom, which were part of the protests, the Yulin government will prohibit the sale of dog meat in restaurants, markets and other commercial centers from June 15.
“The Yulin Dog Meat Festival is not over just yet, but if this news is true as we hope, it is a really big nail in the coffin for a gruesome event that has come to symbolize China’s crime-fuelled dog meat trade,” said HSI expert in China, Peter Li, while mentioning that several dogs are often stolen or kidnapped for the festival.
The ban, spearheaded by Yulin’s new Communist Party Secretary, Mo Gongming, was, hailed as a decisive victory by the activists, although they feared it to be temporary.
“Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade,” said Duo Duo Project director, Andrea Gung, in a statement.
Anyone violating the ban, which will come into effect less than a week before the start of the 2017 festival, will be fined up to 100,000 yuan ($14,500) or detained by the police, added the statement.
Yulin authorities refused to confirm the ban to EFE.
A majority of China’s population does not eat dog meat, but the minority that does, such as in southern parts of the country or next to its border with the Korean peninsula, has a market where 10-20 million dogs are sacrificed annually.
The Yulin festival that began in 2010 and is celebrated on the occasion of the summer solstice, has now become a symbol of the infamous practice; about 15,000 dogs were killed in the first editions of the festival.
The figure has come down to 3,000 over the last few years owing to sustained campaigns by animal groups, which have blocked access to Yulin to stop the movement of trucks carrying dog and cat meat to the festival.
The HSI and Duo Duo Project also said in the statement that the festival falsely defended it as a tradition, since it was invented in 2010 by dog meat sellers to prevent declining sales.
The statement added the World Health Organization considers the dog-meat trade unhealthy and dangerous, as it could spread diseases such as rabies and cholera.
Several celebrities, including British actor-comedian Ricky Gervais and late American actress Carrie Fisher, were part of the campaign against the Yulin festival and in 2016 over 11 million people signed a petition against it.