In April 1919 at Amritsar in the Punjab a rifle detachment of sepoys of the British Indian Army fired 1,650 rounds into an of unarmed throng of civilians who had gathered in a walled garden to celebrate the festival of Baisakhi and to peacefully demonstrate against the imprisonment of two of its leaders. A total of 379 people were killed and over 1,000 injured .

At the ensuing enquiry the commander, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer admitted that he knew a large number of women and children were in the crowd but declared that they were included in the slaughter because they posed a political danger. For his action he was admonished and transferred but not punished in any other way while In England he was feted as a national hero especially by the elitist commercial bankers and merchants who stood to gain from the subjugation of the Indian subjects of Emperor George V.

On 17 and 18 December 2020, a party of sixteen Spanish hunter-butchers slaughtered with assault weapons a total of 540 animals (mainly deer and wild boar) contained within the walled rustic estate of Torrebela at Azumbaja. The commercial reason given was that the area was to be cleared in preparation for the installation of a photo-electric park while the carcasses could be profitably sold as succulent additions to the festive tables of those who could afford them. But the publication of photographs of the dead animals, laid out in military formation , brought a stream of protest from both activists for animal rights and hunters who claimed that the killing was unlicensed and unsporting.

What purpose is served by a comparison of these two events separated as they are by a century of vast social change? After all, massacres on a larger scale have been a feature of ethnography from the days of the Chinese Zhiang dynasty to the genocidal acts of nazis and fascists in the 20th century. So why make a fuss about the herding of animals into confined spaces there to be slaughtered or mutilated before being eaten; a daily event in abattoirs nationwide?

The corollary lies in the long history of Imperialism which defines wild and domestic animals; slaves and indentured servants as objects or “things” which have a reduced legal status. This enables heir maltreatment and slaughter by the ruling classes without fear of retribution.

The perpetrators of blood sports, warfare and massacres claim an untroubled conscience because their deeds are “in the public interest” or for the greater good of the majority who benefit from their actions regardless of the misery and suffering caused by such wanton destruction. Relief for these victims in our troubled times depends almost entirely on the work of a minority of activists such as the People , Animal and Nature Party (PAN) to which I commend your donation and empathy.