VietNamNet Bridge - "Chopping a live healthy pig is cruel behavior, and it hardens the feelings of viewers, especially children," said Nguyen Thanh Tam, of the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), in an interview with VNE.

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Pigs to be chopped up for sacrifice (2014). Photo: Animals Asia.



- Why does Animals Asia call for an end to the pig-chopping festival in Bac Ninh?

- In 2013 we sent a letter expressing concern and opposition against this festival to Mr. Hoang Tuan Anh, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Mr. Nguyen Van Phong, Director of the Department of Culture of Bac Ninh. Then, we continued to send a dispatch to Mr. Phong asking for his confirmation that the pig-chopping festival was still being held.

After not getting any response from the agencies, the staff of Animals Asia arrived at the village of Nem Thuong, where the festival is held, in 2014 and we saw that the festival was taking place without any restrictions on the attendees.

We oppose the pig-chopping rite because of its negative effects on animal welfare and society. In addition, a cultural festival is an opportunity for many people and many generations to participate in rather than restrict. Therefore, local authorities should consider selecting a civilized and humane program to spread good traditions.

We are concerned that the festival could be held in 2015 (February 24), so we continue to call for an end to the pig-chopping festival in Nem Thuong.

- Many people believe that traditional culture should be maintained, what is Animals Asia's perspective?

- The festival of Nem Thuong Village includes many different programs, including cultural contests like the Quan ho (love duet) singing contest, the human chess competition, the rice cooking-running contest ... all that should be preserved. We only suggest not holding the ritual pig-chopping rite because we see its negative impact on animal welfare issues, as well as the negative impact on society.

Chopping healthy live pigs is a cruel behavior to animals. It hardens emotions of the viewer to witness how the animals are treated brutally, especially children, who are vulnerable and have incomplete psychological stability.

In addition, the festival also causes unnecessary suffering and pain to animals. The continuation of this festival sends out a message that animals are things not to be respected. Should the killing of animals in a barbaric way start a new year?

- You said that the pig-chopping festival will have a negative impact on viewers, especially children. What is the grounds for that statement?

- Many research results conducted in the US show the relationship between cruelty to animals and violence in humans. According to a survey carried out in 1999 in a prison, of a total of 117 prisoners, 63% of the group of violent criminals had committed animal abuse compared to only 11% in a group without a tendency to violence.

Acts of cruelty to animals is one of the tests made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States (FBI) to assess the level of danger of prisoners.

According to Animals Asia, "animal welfare" means the animal is not hungry; is not uncomfortable both physically and mentally; has no pain, injury or disease; has freedom to express instinctive behavior; and is not scared and worried.

According to scientific research published in the Journal of Emotional Abuse in 1998, the article "Animal Abuse and Family Violence” by JA Quinslisk, of the 72 women in the shelter for women with family violence, 88% of people said that they had witnessed the mistreatment of animals.

In Vietnam, the rate of juvenile crime is increasing, both in number of cases and severity, brutality of each case.

According to the Steering Committee of Scheme IV "struggling to prevent and combat crimes against children and crimes of juvenile age" from 2007 to June, 2013, there were nearly 63,600 cases reported, including more than 94,300 children in violation of criminal law.

The number of cases rose by nearly 4,300 cases. In 80% of the 7,861 cases, the criminals of  juvenile age came from families with difficult circumstances; had parents who were criminals, alcoholics or gamblers; or were from families with domestic violence.

- In addition to the pig-chopping festival, Vietnam also has a number of festivals such as buffalo fighting and buffalo stabbing in the lunar New Year. What is your opinion of these festivals?

- Culture and tradition has changed and evolved over time. The good things and ones that are consistent with trends and the new society will be maintained. The things that are no longer appropriate and unsound customs should be changed and removed. Besides, festivals should be associated with local identity and culture of the nation to spread humane behavior for future generations.




Frightened faces of children witnessing the pig chopping rite. Photo: AnimalsAsia.




The act of stabbing buffalo and chopping pigs, and festivals that treat animal cruelty witnessed by many people, including children, are opposed to the moral nature of Vietnamese people and they could not be called part of a human culture.

The Vietnamese from ancient times have always had the tradition of altruism, humanity and these traditions should be promoted. The festivals using animals as tools, instead of respecting them as living beings that can feel pain and are able to recognize this suffering, are making a mockery of that fine tradition of Vietnam.

Asia Animals protests all brutal festivals using animals, and the pig-chopping festival is one of the most brutal festivals at present.

- How do other countries deal with this?

- The world has many festivals and activities related to the massacre and abusive treatment of animals that have been condemned and have been stopped. For example, India has recently banned the sacrifice of animals for "cruel" and "barbaric" nature of this practice.

In Denmark, the Minister of Agriculture has signed a decree banning the slaughter of cattle for religious ritual without putting them under anesthetic before slaughtering. The reason is: "The rights of animals are more important than religious rituals."

The Australian government banned the export of live sheep and cattle to Saudi Arabia during the 1991-2000 period, after hundreds of them died of a heat wave while on the move to the Persian Gulf.

These activities and festivals with cruel acts against animals are often opposed by the public, or the government recognizes the negative impact of them on society and eliminates them.

We have found that even in Vietnam many people have protested this festival. Recently we have called on the protesters to sign a petition to stop the pig-chopping festival in Bac Ninh.