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Opening Speech of the 3rd National Animal Rights Day, June 9, 2013
Welcome to the 3rd National Animal Rights Day. On this day, once a year, we stop everything else, and give our full attention to the most marginalized, abused and oppressed group on this planet: Animals. On this day we remember them, lament their pain, and mourn their loss. We give them a voice through ours, and reach out on their behalf to anyone who has a heart to listen.

If animals could talk, their chorus of cries would drown out every other noise in the world. If you only listen, you could hear it right now. Coming from every farm, slaughterhouse, meat market, testing lab, breeding factory, fishing pond, hunting ground, circus, zoo, religious temple, pet store, city shelter, restaurant, and dinner table, in every home on every street. Some of them are the brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, of the motionless bodies cradled in our hands before you. These individual beings, who had a soul, a unique character, and a will to live, are just like us: they come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Some of them have feathers, some of them have fur, some of them have paws and some have tiny little legs. But they all shared the very same thing we have in common too: they wanted to live. With their loved ones. Happy and free.

We are all animals. We are all living, breathing beings, who share the same Earth. We all feel pain and suffer when we are hurt or deprived of our lives, our families, our freedom. We all want to experience kindness, compassion and dignity. Just like us, animals are not property. They are not ours to use. They are an end unto themselves. Their freedom is beautiful and their slavery is a horror. The bedrock principle of 'animal rights' is that ALL living beings have a "right" to live their lives, free from exploitation, victimization and cruelty. This is a right that EVERY being has.

But how do we acknowledge this right when it comes to non-human animals? Let us see... every 30 minutes, 6 Million animals are killed in slaughterhouses around the world. In the United States alone, 10 Billion land animals and 20 Billion sea animals are killed for food every year. An additional 10 Million die in laboratories, and 3 Million are killed for their skin and fur. It is estimated that another 200 Million are killed by hunters. That's 80 Million a day!

Yes, many people suffer too. Some of us have been through wars, some of us have survived natural disasters, and some of us have lost family members in some atrocity or other. I am one of those. Almost my entire family was murdered in one such atrocity - the one we call "The Holocaust". But I can tell you, with all the pain in my heart, and in the hearts of my grandparents who never saw their mother, father, brothers and sisters again; that none of it, none of these, can compare to what we, the human race, subject all other species on this planet, to. Not the gas Chambers in Auschwitz, not all the world wars combined, not the genocides in Africa and other places. The sheer magnitude, the well-oiled systems we have developed, the unimaginable cruelty with which we raise, kill, and use every part of these billions of living beings, just so that you and me could please our taste buds with a fleeting pleasure. Or look fashionable in some jacket or shoes. Or wash our hair with some brand name shampoo. It's unfathomable. And it's going on every day, every hour, every moment.

This is why we are here today. This has to stop, and it will only stop with you. Please look at these beautiful creatures in front of you, many of them still babies. Can you imagine a day when they could live on their own terms, with their families and offspring, happy and free? We can. Can you imagine a day when these beings will have equal rights to all other beings on this planet? We can. Can you imagine a day when humanity takes responsibility and protects all animals and the Earth, instead of harming them? We sure can. Join us. This is our planet. And theirs too.
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