Created by the organisation “Our Planet Theirs Too”, this initiative called NARD (The National Animals Rights Day) is intended to protest against the “exploitation and treatment of animals as objects”, but also to be a “moment of tribute ”, in which each person can look back on the past and analyze where they can improve their behaviour, in order to “align their values with what they do on a daily basis”, said Lusa Anita, a member of the organisation, who in Portugal it is in charge of FALA (Active Animal Liberation Front).
NARD began about ten years ago in the United States, in San Francisco, and is currently taking place in 60 cities around the world, with more than 100,000 participants and 10 million people reached through the internet, according to the organisers.
In Lisbon, the initiative had as its starting point the Rossio square, where close to a hundred people, mostly young people, some accompanied by their dogs, gathered in an orderly fashion, keeping a safe distance.
Wearing black T-shirts with the blue inscription “Our Planet Theirs Too” and displaying posters with pictures of animals, after some speeches and songs, the protesters lined up for a slow and silent parade along Rua Augusta to Praça do Comércio, simulating a funeral march.
In their arms they carried some dead animals (ducks, chickens, cats, rabbits and even a mouse), lying on white cloths.
"We know that animals are exploited in all ways, whether for food, cosmetics, in the zoo, and they are always being exploited and dying in these horrible conditions in which they find themselves", said Anita, explaining that they managed to have some animals that “unfortunately” died and, in this way, wanted to “pay them homage, as they always pay homage to animals that die in a way they shouldn't”.
In addition to the protest component, the initiative also has a “celebration part, to celebrate the fact that we are here to fight for them”.
“Animals cannot fight for themselves, they need us to do that. We will want to celebrate these moments” and also the “passion to fight for what we believe is the best for the world”.
The ultimate goal of this group is to get people to start "looking at animals in another way, not seeing them as an object, as a thing available to give us something", because "they are beings who are aware that they are here like us and have emotions and feel everything as we feel”, he stated.
Addressing those who have dogs and cats at home, who like them and treat them well, she urged people to think about “other animals too, because some are even more sociable than dogs or cats, but they are seen as mere objects or food or a piece of skin”.
“Animals are not here to serve us, they are here to share the planet with us. We would like people to think about these issues, about daily consumption habits, at a time when everything is very industrialized and exploration-based. We know that exploitation is bad, whether of people or animals, but then our practices do not always correspond to our values”, she considered, stressing that this is the awareness that the NARD movement and initiative intend to create.
The organization was satisfied with joining the initiative, given that it was the first time it happened in Portugal and the circumstances that are experienced due to the pandemic, confessing that the number of people who met in Rossio, who will join more in the afternoon at Praça do Comércio, “exceeded expectations”.