By Carole Raphaelle Davis
The Americans are coming. For the first time ever, American animal protection organizations are heading to France to stop a massacre of bulls on October 27.
Friends of Animals (FoA) and The Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) will join forces with over 1000 animal rights activists at a bullfighting arena in Rodilhan, a small village in the south of France. A US delegation is flying to France to support the Comité Radicalement Anticorrida (CRAC Europe), the French anti-bullfighting organization.
The last time the bullfight was held in Rodilhan, peaceful demonstrators were brutalized by bullfighting enthusiasts. Rodilhan’s mayor was filmed assisting in the assault of peaceful demonstrators.
They need our help. Not only are they stabbing animals to death for entertainment, but police stand by while ‘afficionados’ beat up peaceful animal rights demonstrators who are there to stop a massacre. We are going to march with CRAC Europe against this horrific animal abuse.
Forty California school children have sent letters to the mayor of Rodilhan and the French ambassador in Washington D.C. pleading them to “cancel the killing.” CAPS and FoA have also launched an American campaign aimed at headquarters of the French tourist board in New York City and French embassy in Washington to threaten a boycott of travel to France. France is the number one destination for US tourists with more than 3 million Americans traveling there every year. Calls and emails have been pouring in to both offices.
No where on the French Tourism website, an arm of the French government, is there any mention of bullfighting. In fact, when you type in the key word, it brings you back to the home page. The French tourism board seems to be hiding bullfights from US travelers, knowing that Americans tend to come to France to see the Mona Lisa's smile and the Eiffel Tower. "The few Americans who are aware of it don't understand how a blood sport can be legal in a civilized country," says Sally Hampton, a US animal protection advocate who has joined the 'Boycott France' campaign. "I just can't fathom how sadists can legally torture a sentient being in broad daylight and charge for tickets to a bull execution and call it an art form. Matadors aren't 'artists,' they're monsters! When Americans find out about this, they will cancel their holidays."
According to CRAC Europe, 70% of French citizens are against bullfighting. Outlawed in most of France, bullfighting is allowed under a special judicial exemption only in small areas where there is a so-called "uninterrupted tradition" of bullfighting. The judicial exemption issue is hotly debated by animal protection advocates who claim that if bullfight organizers put on such a show in Paris, they would face enormous fines and two years in prison.
"The blood lust of bullfighting afficionados has infected the highest levels of government," says Mario Valenza, who leads BAC Marseille, an anti-bullfighting organization in Marseille. "Our own minister of the interior, Manuel Valls, is pro-corrida."
On Sunday the 27th of October, matadors and their assistants will taunt and kill a series of bulls and calves throughout the day in Rodilhan’s bullfighting arena. The chief of police of Nîmes, the town that has jurisdiction over the village of Rodilhan, has stated that police will arrest any protesters who cross a police barricade, 400 meters from the arena and face a fine of 76,000 Euros and six months in prison.
Calls to the chief of police in Nîmes and to Serge Reder, the mayor of Rodilhan, have not been answered.
"We are calling on the Americans, historical friends of France, for help," said Jean-Pierre Garrigues, president of CRAC Europe. "We need our friends on the international scene to help abolish this bullfighting horror and shame. The French politicians who defend bullfighting torture are guilty of cowardice. The support of The Companion Animal Protection Society and Friends of Animals is a great opportunity for our struggle to save bulls and horses from torture in the bullfighting arenas of France. "
The bullfighting “aficionados” are using social media sites to threaten violence against animal rights demonstrators.
“To call the sadistic performance of French matadors who inflict pain and death on confined, weakened bulls and calves a cultural event is mind-blowing to humanitarians in the United States, said Edita Birnkrant, NY Director for FoA. “France shouldn't benefit from tourists who travel to enjoy a more refined, civilized culture, “said Birnkrant, “and my presence at this protest in France represents millions more Americans who will refuse tourism to France until this animal torture grotesquely labeled as “art” is officially banned.”
"Watch out for yourself," said my friend who is a SWAT team police officer in Lyons. "The police are under orders and it is very political. They could use high powered water hoses on you. Whatever you do, don't resist the police. Be careful."
On October 27, we will be tweeting live from the bullfighting arena in Rodilhan using the hashtag #Rodilhanmassacre. We will try to stop them from torturing bulls and baby calves to death on that day.
Wish us luck.
What you can do:
Contact the French embassy in Washington and tell them that they must abolish abuse and killing of bulls for entertainment or you will take your holiday elsewhere.
Tel 202 944 6000