PETA launched a tour of Middle Eastern countries calling on citizens to support a ban on the cruel live export of sheep from Australia. PETA representatives also met with news media and individuals throughout the region in order to begin a grassroots campaign informing concerned citizens about the cruelty of live export and urging both local governments and representatives of the Australian government to end live export immediately.
PETA Asia-Pacific's director, Jason Baker—accompanied by African representative Andrew Butler, Australian activist Jodi Ruckley, and Egyptian activist Nadia Montasser—launched the campaign with a news conference in Dubai and then began a three-week investigation-and-demonstration tour of Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait.
The message was simple: Compassion toward animals should be a main concern of any civilized nation, and consideration for the well-being of animals should be at the forefront of all animal-related government policies in the Middle East and Australia. The live-export trade's treatment of animals—who are shipped thousands of miles before being kicked in the face, beaten, prodded, and dragged off trucks by their ears and legs and into slaughterhouses, where their throats are slit while they are still conscious—is not only inhumane but also flies in the face of the teachings of the Holy Koran and halal humane-slaughter laws, which state that everything possible must be done to minimize the suffering of an animal who is to be killed.
In addition to holding a series of colorful demonstrations at Australian embassies in Egypt, Jordan, and Kuwait, the group visited animal markets in Amman, Jordan, where the group members documented that Australian sheep were given little shelter and were diseased and suffering from respiratory problems, blindness, severe skin conditions, and wool loss. A veterinarian who went with PETA to the markets in order to provide treatment to these distressed animals said that they were suffering from mineral deficiencies and acute ongoing stress—not a big surprise, considering the fact that they were forced to endure a grueling voyage halfway around the world! This was just one tiny market with a few hundred sheep; it is nearly impossible to imagine the overall suffering endured by the more than 800,000 sheep that Australia sent to Jordan last year.
PETA's ongoing investigations into the live-export trade reveal that nothing short of a complete ban on this trade can ensure animals' well-being. If the people of Australia and the Middle East are concerned about basic animal welfare and about sourcing meat that comes from animals who have been slaughtered according to cultural, religious, humane, and hygienic requirements, then importing chilled meat from halal-certified slaughterhouses in Australia is the only compassionate option.