At least 80,000 stray dogs were transferred to the island starve to death in the early 20th century as part of an attempt by authorities to modernize the city. According to historical accounts, the dogs' pained cries could be heard from İstanbul at night.
The event is scheduled for Sunday. Animal Party members will meet at the Kabataş Ferry Terminal and head to the island, where they will inaugurate the monument to the dogs.
The massacre of the city's stray dogs left a scar on the psyche of İstanbul residents. In 1910, when the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) was in power, 80,000 animals were gathered up, dumped on Sivriada -- where there is not so much as a single tree -- and left to die. The people of the day said they feared God would wreak havoc on the city in return for their cruelty, and most residents blamed the turbulent times after 1910, including the Balkan Wars and World War I, on the dog massacre.
Bünyamin Salman, a representative of Animal Party, said Pierre Loti wrote (as translated from Turkish): “They were doomed to the worst of massacres, even though none of them had bitten a single person. No Turk wanted to assume this sacrilegious duty that would bring down a curse upon the Crescent. This is why thugs and bandits were assigned the task. These people did their job with iron hooks, capturing their poor victims by their necks, feet or tails and throwing them randomly onto ships that would take them to Sivriada.”
Salman said: “Some people among us perpetrated this cruelty that we didn't want, that we don't like and that we have never accepted. We have decided to erect a monument to express our shame for this violence in our history, to announce that we reject it and to make sure that such a massacre doesn't happen again.”
However, he said that Turkey's strays still meet a similar fate to that suffered by their canine ancestors 102 years ago. “Unfortunately, today, some municipalities collect dogs and dump them in forested areas, far away from the city, where they will not be able to find food. We believe this is in no way different from the Sivriada massacre that was committed in the past.”
Salman said this kind of treatment of animals has no place in Turkey's culture and recounted a story of Suleiman the Magnificent, who was hesitant as to whether or not he should annihilate an army of ants that was eating away a tree in the garden of Topkapı Palace. “He consulted with Sheikh ul-Islam Ebussuud Efendi, who told him that if he killed the ants, he would have to answer for it in the afterlife.”
He continued: “The barbaric killing of thousands of dogs in 1910 and the similar events that go on today are stains in our history, whose greatest character was even hesitant to kill the tiniest ant. We expect everyone to commemorate these 80,000 dogs with us on June 3 on Sivriada.”
Details about the commemoration event can be found at the Animal Party website, www.hayvanpartisi.org.
No stray dogs left in Southeast, says BDP deputy
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Hasip Kaplan has claimed that Chinese workers employed in projects funded by the Chinese government have eaten the stray dogs of the region, in a statement he made criticizing the finance minister.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Kaplan criticized a statement by Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek, who recently said in a speech he made in İzmir that “the Southeast will become Turkey's China.”
“How will the Southeast become China? Let me give you an example. … There was an oil well and a coal mine on top of Mount Cudi [in Şırnak]. They drilled on the mountain, dug an 800-meter tunnel to bring coal from there. The Cinger Group has a thermal plant there. The Chinese gave loans for the plant. All of the workers are from China. And how could we tell that the Southeast had already turned into China? We looked and saw that there was not a single dog left in the villages. Our guests ate them all. Unfortunately, such is the situation,” he said, criticizing the use of Chinese workers instead of supporting local employment.
“If you are describing such a Southeast as China, this is a grave situation,” he added.