Celebrities Ricky Gervais and Peter Egan join campaigners in calls for Indonesia to close down its Live Animal Markets
18 March 2020
As the coronavirus COVID-19 continues to cause global chaos, sickness and fatalities, and Indonesia reports its first human infections, international and Indonesian celebrities join forces with campaigners from the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition to call on the Indonesian government to take action to close its cruel and filthy live animal markets to safeguard human and animal health and welfare.
18th March, Jakarta: Celebrities Ricky Gervais and Peter Egan have joined the Dog Meat Free Indonesia (DMFI) coalition in their calls on President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to take action to close the country’s macabre live animal markets amidst the growing global health crisis.
Whilst the virus is now known to have originated from the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China, where a huge variety of wildlife species were being sold alongside dogs and other domesticated animals destined for human consumption, campaigners warn that these types of gruesome markets are still rife in many parts of the region, including Indonesia.
The DMFI’s latest campaign supported by international and Indonesian celebrity ambassadors is committed to raising public and political awareness of the unsanitary conditions in these markets, that, together with the contamination risks of having so many animal species caged and killed alongside one another, present the perfect breeding ground for new and deadly diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that 70 per cent of global disease-causing pathogens discovered in the past 50 years came from animals, and COVID-19 is no different.
In the video released by the DMFI coalition today, actor and comedian Ricky Gervais warns, “It’s not the first time a terrible disease has started because of people eating things they shouldn’t. I mean this one comes from eating pangolins. Pangolins! Stop eating everything that moves! It’s going to kill us all!.”
Campaigners warned President Jokowi in an open letter in January of the grave dangers of the country’s live animal markets and unregulated trade in wildlife, and called for “preventative and proactive measures to make sure Indonesia is not the next point of origin of a deadly virus.” The authorities in Indonesia are finally starting to feel the pressure after announcing the country’s first cases of the deadly disease on the 2nd March, with the numbers of infections on the archipelago steadily rising in the world’s fourth most populous country, and with the French Prime Minister calling it the “biggest health crisis in a century”.
Other countries affected by the deadly outbreak have already started to adopt landmark measures to tackle the source of the virus. Following a temporary ban in January, on the 24th February, China approved a landmark proposal which prohibits “the illegal wildlife trade, abolishes the bad habit of overconsumption of wildlife, and effectively protects the lives and health of the people”; and on the 26th February, China’s fifth largest city, Shenzhen, proposed legislation with the additional measure of a city-wide ban on the consumption of dogs and cats, to reflect the special relationship between people and domesticated companion animals, which it has called the “consensus of all human civilisation”. On the 9th March, the Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam ordered the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to submit a directive for a ban on wildlife trade and consumption by the 1st of April. The DMFI campaigners hope that Indonesia will follow their example.
“The coronavirus outbreak has not only exposed the huge public health risks associated with live animal markets, it has also shone the global spotlight on the horrors of these animal markets and trades. Finally, governments are realising that they cannot keep these cruel and unregulated trades and practices alive and also keep their citizens safe, and we urge Indonesia to take similar urgent actions. Populations of protected species of wildlife are being decimated, companion animals are being stolen, and every month, tens of thousands of animals are illegally transported into, and slaughtered in, densely populated cities to supply the demand for dog, cat and “exotic” meat,” explains Lola Webber, co-founder of Change For Animals Foundation and co-ordinator for the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition.
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