Party for the Animals calls for coop­e­ration on behalf of the planet and animals in Sarajevo

19 december 2018

Last weekend, Dutch MP for the Party for the Animals Christine Teunissen gave a lecture on animal rights and sustainability in the city hall of the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The lecture was a success – the hall was filled with Bosnians praising Teunissen’s message: “Thank you for coming here and sharing your positive, connecting story with us.” In addition to the lecture, the party organised a conference for animal welfare campaigners and nature conservationists from the region and it showed the documentary Dominion, introduced by executive producer and prominent member of the Australian Animal Justice Party, Tamasin Ramsay.

Bosnia and Herzegovina saw more than one premiere during the weekend: in addition to its first ever lecture and conference on animal rights, the controversial Australian documentary Dominion was shown for the first time. The entire weekend was organised in cooperation with local animal rights organisation EVA.

Party for the Animals MP Christine Teunissen gave her lecture, entitled One Single Planet, in the centre of Sarajevo’s political power, Vijecnica. This historic city hall, which normally receives top diplomats and foreign country leaders, was completely destroyed in the war of the 1990s, but has now been restored to its full glory. Teunissen: “Lecturing here is a great honour. The city hall is a beautiful symbol of hope and connection. The ideal location to share our story on the necessity to defend the planet and its most vulnerable beings together.”

After the lecture, the guests – including the Dutch ambassador in Sarajevo- were treated to delicious vegan snacks from local caterer and company ‘Biona’, which solely uses plant-based and organic products, and as many local ingredients as possible.

Conference ‘Animal Rights and Sustainability’

In addition to the lecture, the Party for the Animals organised the country’s very first conference on animal rights and sustainability. The aim was to connect animal welfare campaigners and nature conservationists from the Balkans. Participants from countries such as Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Bulgaria took part in several workshops and presentations organised by, for example, the Party for the Animals, founder of Bosnian animal rights organisation EVA, Maida Šabeta, and vegan animal welfare adviser for the Croatian government, Luka Oman. After the conference the participants indicated that they felt inspired to work together even more closely towards animal rights and sustainability in the region.

Showing the documentary Dominion

To conclude the weekend in Sarajevo, the Party for the Animals showed the controversial documentary Dominion in arthouse cinema Kriterion. The film was introduced by Tamasin Ramsay, executive producer and prominent member of the Australian Animal Justice Party, a sister party of the Party for the Animals in the Netherlands. The film shows the daily reality of Australia’s livestock industry, and the way in which people treat animals in general. Generally regarded as a country which protects animals the best, Dominion shows a completely different side to Australia.

Ramsay was one of the people who took the undercover footage that was used for the documentary: “I stand before you with mixed feelings. On the one hand I feel proud, standing here in Sarajevo to introduce this film to so many interested parties. On the other hand, I feel ashamed, because what you are about to see is happening in my country. And it is happening everywhere. I beg you to stop investing in this horrible industry in the future. What we do to animals is appalling, and closely related to the violence that people inflict on each other. Peace begins on our plates.”

Although the film aroused intense feelings in the Bosnian visitors, everyone agreed: this documentary should be shown everywhere, including in schools.

Showing Dominion prohibited in The Hague

In the week before the conference, the Party for the Animals already organised to show Dominion in Lebanon’s capital Beirut. The film was met with a similar response to the one it got in Sarajevo. Furthermore, the documentary was scheduled to be shown on a large screen in front of the Lower House in The Hague, the centre of politics in the Netherlands, but was cancelled at the last moment by the city’s mayor, for being “too shocking” for shoppers in the area.

Party for the Animals: “It is outrageous that instead of dealing with the terrible practices shown in the film, Dutch leaders choose to deny access to the truth about the livestock industry. In the last week we have shown this film in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Lebanon without any problems, resulting in a united call from the public to show this film to a broad audience. How wry that The Hague, the very city that claims to stand for justice and freedom, would impose restrictions on showing this film.”

Dominion will still be shown in The Hague today, in the university building near the Dutch Lower House. Tamasin Ramsay will also be present to introduce the film and answer questions.