NEM THUONG, BAC NINH, Vietnam — Animal welfare campaigners are urging global companies such as Samsung and Canon to take a strong stand against a gruesome Lunar New Year festival in Vietnam in which live pigs are tied up and paraded around the streets before being chopped in half with machetes. Provincial authorities are set to allow the Nem Thuong Pig Chopping Festival to take place in Bac Ninh province on February 10 despite condemnation from local and international charities, as well as the central Vietnamese government and the general public in the country.
The Asia for Animals coalition of 18 international and Asian animal protection groups has written to leading corporate investors in Bac Ninh province urging them to apply economic pressure to help end the bloody tradition. Industry is a mainstay of the Bac Ninh economy with scores of multinational corporations investing in the province’s many industrial parks. Samsung and Canon are two of the biggest players with Foxconn, PepsiCo and Nokia also present.
This month, the capital city of Hanoi announced it will set up a 24-hour hotline for the general public to report “offensive” or “violent” Lunar New Year festivals in a move which may bring more pressure to bear on rogue events such as the Nem Thuong Pig Chopping ritual.
Animals Asia Animal Welfare Officer Nguyen Tam Thanh said: “The public, the media and the central government want this violent ritual to end, but the Bac Ninh authorities are refusing to take action. Now we’re asking the province’s leading commercial players to apply economic pressure and help them see sense.
“Continuing this barbaric ritual is totally at odds with Vietnamese culture and the tradition of New Year. It negatively impacts society, animal welfare and the country’s image abroad. Animal cruelty cannot be part of modern Vietnamese culture.”
The gory spectacle has been decried by the central Vietnamese government with the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism enacting a regulation in 2016 that all “outdated” and “uncivilised” festivals should end. So far this mandate has resulted in halting numerous “buffalo stabbing” and buffalo fighting festivals across the country. Yet the Bac Ninh provincial government, which has the authority to end the extreme animal cruelty which takes place in Nem Thuong village, has remained defiant and allowed the gory spectacle to continue.
The letters from the Asia for Animals coalition, sent on January 10, ask both Samsung and Canon to speak with both the Bac Ninh People’s Committee and the Bac Ninh Department of Culture, Sport and Tourism to finally end the bloody spectacle.
Phuong Tham, Humane Society International’s Vietnam Director said: “Most people in Vietnam don’t want to see this type of animal cruelty spectacle go ahead, particularly the younger Vietnamese who share the global concern for animal welfare and believe that cruelty has no place in a modern Vietnam. The pig chopping festival is brutal and unnecessary, subjecting pigs to a terrifying ordeal and cruel slaughter. Our message is clear, go ahead with a New Year festival but replace the animal suffering with a cruelty-free ritual that everyone can enjoy. Let’s have a new culture of compassion for animals.”
Samsung’s Global Sustainability Strategy claims it aims to “take on a stronger responsibility as a global citizen to create social values”, a claim Asia for Animals believes means it has a responsibility to oppose the cruel Nem Thuong pig chopping ritual.
The coalition also highlights Canon Vietnam’s philosophy of “Kyosey”, in which “All people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously live and work together into the future”. Asia for Animals has called on Canon Vietnam to expand this philosophy to all non-human animals and to help develop positive social values which benefit both people and animals.
To date, neither company has responded to the letters.
Download images from last year’s festival here.
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Notes to editors:
The Asia for Animals (AfA) Coalition is an alliance of 21 well -known and respected animal
Protection organisations with a shared focus on improving the welfare of animals in Asia.
The coalition works with 600 supporting organisations to raise awareness of the issues which
impact upon the welfare of animals across Asia and advocate for campaigns aimed at improving animal welfare or ending the exploitation and suffering of animals.