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HomeHeadlineThe Heated Debate Over Street Dog Policies Under the AKP's Rule?

The Heated Debate Over Street Dog Policies Under the AKP’s Rule?

Necip F. Bahadir

I never would have thought that the ‘street dog issue’ would become a hot topic in politics for 40 years. We are talking about a government that hasn’t even managed to deal with the issue of dogs wandering around streets, parks, and squares. The AKP, which has been governing the country alone for 22 years, has not only failed to solve the ‘street animals problem’ but has exacerbated it, making it an intractable situation. In fact, when it took over the administration, such a problem did not exist.

You might say, “What problem has the AKP solved?” If only the problem were just stray dogs… Who can say that those wandering around, armed to the teeth, shabby, and aimlessly loitering are less dangerous than canines? From those fighting over the road in traffic to those arguing while playing games at coffeehouses, everyone’s hand goes straight to their waist. And the trigger is pulled. Social media is overflowing with news of guns being fired at each other. Anger and pointless ‘deaths, my friend.’

This country has many problems. No one is mourning.

The AKP has been working on the ‘street dog issue’ for some time. Party Spokesman Ömer Çelik announced that the draft has reached its final stage and will be sent to the Parliament in a week or ten days. He did not provide much information about its content. Then the debate suddenly flared up. It almost became the main agenda in Ankara. The headline of the meeting between CHP leader Özgür Özel and BBP Chairman Mustafa Destici was also ‘stray dogs.’

Fatih Erbakan, who is not much seen around, also raised his head. He immediately grasped an opportunity for opposition against the AKP regime and took action. “No one but God can take the life He has given!” he said. And he marked the stance of the Yeniden Refah Party. The minds of other parties, especially the CHP, are quite confused. Neither with Jesus nor with Moses… Özgür Özel wants to manage the situation somehow. But this is a topic where you can’t stay in the middle, you have to make your stand clear.

It’s not simple, it’s a burning issue! From a distance, the stray dog problem might seem like a ‘simple, ordinary problem’. But it’s not. It’s a burning issue. The animal rights lobby in Turkey is very strong. They are not just a small marginal group. They are a highly effective and active segment of society. Their ability to create public opinion is immense. The frequency and magnitude of news reflected in the media these days prove this. They managed to hold the agenda even before the draft’s content and timetable were announced. It is certain that what follows will be even noisier.

While taking the picture of the agenda, I would also like to express my own opinion. In the past, I saw the philosophy and behavior of animal lovers as ‘excessive to the point of neglect’. I didn’t pay much attention. I used to meet the rhetoric and speeches about ‘animal rights’ of sane people with surprise and astonishment. I even found it odd… Now I understand them very well. And I think they are right. I take my hat off to their fearless fights, their resistance to the draft. Now I am also one of the animal friends.

Showing no mercy is the motto of the AKP regime! He who has no compassion for animals has no mercy for other beings, cannot have. Pity, mercy for all beings… Especially the helpless, the orphans… Unfortunately, today there is a huge ‘compassion problem’ in the lands of Anatolia that brought forth Rumi and Yunus Emre. And their slogans; ‘If you pity, you will become pitiable’… There could be no better confession of cruelty, of oppression. Showing no mercy, not pitying, and making cruelty a policy is the motto of the AKP government.

And it is fated that every creature will partake in this policy. The news mentions a formula called ‘putting to sleep’. What does putting to sleep mean? It’s nothing more than a play on words. What’s clearly implied is ‘killing’…

When did killing become ‘putting to sleep’?

MHP leader Bahçeli’s approach to the issue with a joke like ‘dogs sleep at noon’ is also not appropriate. This is a serious topic! It’s a matter that causes pain to people. Doesn’t the MHP leader know that his partner is rolling up his sleeves to put the dogs to sleep forever?

The AKP’s media outlet ‘A Haber’ got hold of the draft law. It made news about its content. Apparently, this channel was served. The news should be taken as true. The regulation is as merciless as expected. According to the regulation, aggressive animals not adopted within a month will be euthanized. Those who abandon their pets on the streets will be fined 50,000 lira. The most crucial part of the solution formula is here. The use of the word euthanasia is also interesting.

‘Putting to sleep’ or ‘euthanasia’ is not the right term; this is slaughter The right to death for patients with no hope of recovery, suffering greatly, is called ‘euthanasia’. The AKP especially has a habit of playing with words, or rather juggling, when it suits them. First, it said ‘putting to sleep’ then ‘euthanasia’… Neither term is correct. This is ‘slaughter’. That is, to kill, to murder… In a sense, a murder. This cruelty is unacceptable.

Moreover, there might even be talk of a political trap. Who will implement the law? The provincial and district municipalities… Which party are the mayors from? Most of them are from the CHP… From whom will the animal lovers take out their anger? From those implementing the law… In many places, municipalities and the public will come face to face. If the law is enacted and starts to be implemented tomorrow, there are animal lovers who will resist at the cost of their lives. In this case, it falls to the AKP to enjoy watching the scene. And the municipalities will bear the burden. Therefore, the CHP should set up a defense line in Ankara sensing the danger. Otherwise, it will be too late.

There must be another way to solve this. Even if it fits AKP’s ruthless policies, ‘extermination’ should not come to mind immediately. Ways to keep them alive should be sought. Bad and negative examples, of course, are possible. This should not be generalized. All street animals should not be characterized this way. One of the tough tests for the opposition, which emerged victorious on March 31, is this. It must show its strength and skill here. The CHP should immediately determine its side and mobilize the opposition block.

Some might find it odd that I write about such a topic. No, this is not an ordinary social issue. If I say it’s ‘one of the breaking points of politics,’ I’d be right. Like a pension raise for retirees… A social opposition against the AKP government will ignite from this issue. A spark, that is. The AKP is aware of this. That’s why it doesn’t want to hold the ‘fireball’ alone. It’s trying to pull someone else to its side. Its eye is on the CHP… This people is interesting. While they don’t stir a hair when the rights of their siblings, relatives, friends, and acquaintances are violated, they rise up when it comes to the rights of street dogs.

The stray dog issue is so complex and intricate… Maybe Turkey’s Kurdish issue might be resolved, but the street dog issue won’t be. A law? It’s unheard of in this country for a social issue to be resolved by law. The human problem must be resolved before other issues can be. Period.

As you can see, it’s a topic worth discussing, writing about. I wonder if I managed to convey my point?

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