Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time Their Turn - The Social Justice Movement of Our Time

Vegan Bibimbap!

December 18, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

Susan Song, a New York-based animal rights activist campaigning to end South Korea’s dog meat trade, took a few hours off to demonstrate how to prepare bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish. Of course, Ms. Song, who doesn’t consume animal products, veganizes her bibimbap, replacing the meat with both soy curls and “ground beef” made from Beyond Meat patties.

Ms. Song, who emigrated from South Korea to the United States when she was 13 years old, cooks all types of food more often than Korean, but she was inspired to explore her culinary roots after a two-week trip to Korea in November.

Vegan bibimbap ingredients

While in Korea, Ms. Song participated in several anti-dog meat protests with dozens of local activists. At times, she protested on her own, wearing a traditional Korean gown to draw the attention of the crowd and media who were assembled for the arrival of president Trump who was visiting South Korea as part of his tour of Asia.

Not only did Ms. Song reach thousands of Koreans on the streets with her message, but she also spoke to several reporters who approached her because they were in downtown Seoul reporting on President Trump’s visit.

Animal rights activist Susan Song protests dog meat trade in Seoul, South Korea

“I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received by the Korean activists. The weekly dog meat protest at the notorious Gupo dog meat market in Busan, Korea, usually attracts 20 activists. When the community heard that I was traveling from the U.S. to join them, over 120 activists came out to show their support.  About half of them chartered a bus to transport them from Seoul, which is six hours away. It demonstrates how grateful they are that activists around the world are joining them in the effort to stop the dog and cat meat trade.”

New York-based animal rights activist Susan Song joins anti-dog meat activists in Korea.

A month after Gupo market protest, the dog meat merchants expressed their intent to shut down their shops and slaughterhouses if an alternative way of livelihood can help be arranged for them.

As the PyeongChang Winter Olympics fast approaches in February of 2018, Ms. Song will continue to turn up the pressure on the S. Korean government to ban the dog and cat meat trade.


U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Protested Over Plan to Display Pandas

December 11, 2017 by 2 comments


The News

As prominent women in NYC politics entered a political fundraiser headlined by Hillary Clinton, they were confronted by over 30 animal rights activists who were protesting one of the attendees, U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, over her plan to rent a pair of giant pandas from China and put them on display in an enclosure in NYC.

The activists, who are opposed to holding wild animals captive for entertainment, say that panda breeding facilities in China are panda mills in disguise and that renting pandas fuels the market for captive pandas; helps to perpetuate the physical abuse documented at panda mills: and does nothing to conserve pandas in their natural habitat. 

Animal Rights activists protest Carolyn Maloney’s plan to display pandas in a “Panda Pavillion” in NYC

“Pandas are wild animals who belong in the forests of China,” said Jessica Hollander, a NYC artist and activist who participated in the protest. “More and more New Yorkers are rejecting captivity, as evidenced by the recent passage of a NYC law banning wild animals in circuses. Ms. Maloney would be turning back the clock if she went forward with her archaic plan.”

Activists chanted “No Panda Prison in NYC” as hundreds of New Yorkers entered an event for women in politics

Congresswoman Maloney avoided protesters by entering the event through a side door, but activists did interact with several luminaries who entered through the front, including U.S. Congresswomen Nydia Velazquez; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; NYC Public Advocate Letitia James and Huma Abedin, the vice chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign.

Huma Abedin, the Vice Chair of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, stops to look at the protest and take a handout.

In February 2017, Congresswomen Maloney held a “Black & White Panda Ball” at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel to raise money for the project, which is estimated to cost $50 million over a period of 10 years.  The gala raised approximately $500,000. Her charity, The Pandas are Coming to NYC, continues to raise money.

At the “Black & White Panda Ball,” U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is flanked by Maurice (Hank) Greenberg and John Catsimatidis, two billionaires who are backing her plan to import and display pandas.

Your Turn

Please sign the Care2 petition asking Carolyn Maloney to call off her plan to import pandas into NYC for display.

Follow No Panda Prison NYC on Facebook.


Activist Delivers Message to Korean President About Dog Meat Trade

November 9, 2017 by 1 comment


The News

Susan Song meant it when she told her fellow advocates, “We’re going to deliver our message to President Moon Jae-in face-to-face.”

After working full time on the anti-dog meat campaign for 14 months, Ms. Song, a New York-based animal rights activist, got her chance. President Moon Jae-in was scheduled to be in New York City for a week in September 2017 for the United Nations General Assembly, and she was determined to find him and make a plea to save the dogs and cats of South Korea.  

Photo of South Korean Dog Farm taken from footage provided by James Hyams

She researched his schedule of public appearances so that she and her colleagues could position themselves in a spot where they would have the best chance to encounter him. She also bought a traditional Korean dress (hanbok) so that she would stand out in a crowd. 

While stuck in NYC traffic, S. Korean President Moon Jae-in looks at Susan Song and other anti-dog meat protesters

On President Moon’s very first day in town, Ms. Song got her chance. While standing in front of a hotel where President Moon was scheduled to speak, she saw a motorcade approaching and thought “This is it.”  Seconds later, she saw the President in the third car. Gridlock traffic prevented the motorcade from moving ahead, so Ms. Song and her fellow activists had his undivided attention for almost two minutes.

“He saw my traditional Korean dress and smiled broadly, but the smile turned to sadness and empathy when we showed him our posters about the horrific Korean dog meat trade,” said Ms. Song. “I know his response was genuine not only because I saw the look in his eyes but also because he has two rescue dogs and a cat. He understands and cares about  the plight of these poor animals, which is why I have no doubt that he will shut down the dog meat trade.”

Anti-dog meat activist Susan Song dressed in a traditional South Korean costume to capture the attention of the President of South Korea

In November, Ms. Song and her husband traveled to South Korea to meet with local activists, participate in protests, and discover what else she could do from the U.S. to assist in the effort to save the dogs and cats of South Korea.

Susan Song protests the dog meat trade in Seoul, South Korea

Your Turn

To find out how you can help, please visit KoreanDogs.org


NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett Misleads Public About Legality of Kaporos Chicken Massacre

October 27, 2017 by Leave a Comment


The News

In response to accusations from protesters that she has failed to enforce the seven public health codes that are violated during an annual Yom Kippur ritual sacrifice (Kaporos), NYC’s Dept of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Mary Bassett, told an audience at Columbia University that “this has been litigated in the courts” and that “there is a court decision that stands that governs our position on this matter.” The protesters say that she misled the audience regarding the court’s decisions.

The case is not focused on whether or not health codes are being violated, as Commissioner Bassett suggested.  In fact, in the lower court proceedings, city attorneys have not disputed the plaintiffs’ claims that laws are violated.  

According to Nora Constance Marino, the attorney representing the plaintiffs who are suing the city, the case centers on whether or not courts can mandate that the police enforce the laws that are, in fact, violated during Kaporos. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, the police are not only ignoring the violations, but they are also “aiding and abetting” in the crimes by providing the ritual practitioners with flood lights, barricades, security and the orange cones in which the chickens are bled out. 

In violation of the law, body parts and blood contaminate the streets for several days during the Kaporos chicken massacre.

According to court documents, police are “aiding and abetting” in the violations instead of shutting them down.

In her remarks to the audience, Commissioner Bassett stated, “We have no disease signals associated with this practice.” Upon reviewing the video footage of Commissioner Bassett’s statement, Marino noted the potential risk to humans, saying “An affidavit from a toxicologist that was submitted to the court shows a multitude of public health risks, including e-coli and salmonella.”

Body parts contaminate the streets of several neighborhoods in Brooklyn in the days during and after Kaporos.

“As the Commissioner of the DOH, Dr. Bassett knows that erecting pop-up slaughterhouses on public streets and contaminating residential neighborhoods with the blood and body parts of thousands of animals violate public health codes and put area residents at risk,” said Cynthia King, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed against the city. “I wonder if she would be more inclined to enforce the law if dead animals contaminated the streets in her neighborhood.”

During the Kaporos ritual, practitioners say a prayer to transfer their sins to a chicken.

Commissioner Basset made the misleading public statements about Kaporos as protesters, angry that she has ignored community’s pleas to enforce the law, disrupted a presentation she was making at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Protester behind NYC’s DOH Commissioner Mary Bassett displays poster with one of the seven public health codes violated by the Kaporos chicken swinging and slaughter ritual.

Kaporos is a annual ritual in which ultra-Orthodox Jews swing chickens around their heads on public streets while saying a prayer to transfer their sins to the animals. After the ritual, they give the chickens to a man on the street who slices their throats in an open air tent erected in several neighborhoods in NYC. The ritual is performed prior to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. In Brooklyn, which is home to hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews, an estimated 60,000 chickens are swung and massacred each year.

NY State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, will hear the case about Kaporos within the next two months.

In 2015, The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos as well as 19 NYC residents sued the NYC Department of Health and NYPD for failing to enforce the 15 public health, sanitation and anti-cruelty laws and regulations that are violated during Kaporos. The case is pending in New York’s Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

Seven NYC public health codes are violated each year during Kaporos.


Protesters at Malaysia Consulate in NYC Demand Freedom for Lasah the Elephant

October 16, 2017 by 3 comments


The News

Animal rights activists staged a protest the Consulate of Malaysia in NYC to demand that the government liberate Lasah, a 37 year old elephant being held captive on Langkawi, an island off the coast of Malaysia that is popular with tourists.

Poachers kidnapped Lasah from the jungle in Malaysia approximately 35 years ago, taking him away from his mother and his herd. In the decades since, Lasah has been exploited by the logging and entertainment industries.  Today, he gives elephant rides at Langkawi Elephant Adventures. He has no elephant companions; he has no access to water for bathing; and he has been photographed after hours being chained by his legs.

Lasah at Langkawi Elephant Adventures

For the past year, the NGO Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia has been campaigning to compel the Malaysian government to relocate Lasah to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary, where he could spend his remaining years unshackled and in the company of other elephants.  Upon learning of Lasah’s plight, animal rights organizations around the world have stepped in to lend their voice.  Protests have been also been staged at the Consulate of Malaysia in London, in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia’s capital) and in Los Angeles, California.

Activists around the world demand that Malaysia liberate Lasah from his captors, Langkawi Elephant Adventures, and move him to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary.

“Lasah represents so many animals trapped in the tourist industry. If he’s released, that can pave the way for the others,” said Hannah Morris, a British photographer who has been ignored by the Malaysian government since she began campaigning to free Lasah since 2012.  In May, 2017, Ms. Morris spent the night in a tidal sea cave and documented her experience in a video called TRAPPED to raise awareness of the plight of Lasah.

On October 11th, the legendary French actress Brigette Bardot sent a letter to Malaysia’s Environment Minister asking that he relocate Lasah to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary. After being targeted with a Twitter campaign, Hotels.com/Expedia removed the pages on its website promoting elephant rides with Lasah.

In order to give elephant rides, Lasah was “broken” by being beaten into submission by his captors (photo: Hannah Morris)

At the protest in New York City, activists confronted visitors entering and exiting the Malaysian Consulate, informing them about Lasah and asking them to join caring people around the world in boycotting Malaysia until the government gives its 37 year old prisoner a reprieve.

Activist protest on the steps of the Consulate of Malaysia until NYPD Counter Terrorism officials removed them

Your Turn

Follow the campaign to free Lasah on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Sign the Care2 petition asking the Prime Minister of Malaysia to move Lasah to the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary.

Post a comment under any of the posts on the Tourism Malaysia Facebook page, which has over three million followers.  Use the photo below.