Animal rights activists in Sri Lanka are calling on Britain’s Prince Charles - who will be here soon for the golden jubilee independence celebration to take a moral stand for the banning of what they see as the “barbaric sport” of fox hunting in Britain.
The appeal came after reports last Thursday that Charles, heir to the British throne had taken part in a fox hunting trip and had broken a rib in process when he was thrown off his horse.
It is a shame that the prince still indulges in this barbaric sport when his father heads the World Wide Fund for conservation of Nature,”, one activist said.
Another activist Sagarika Rajakaruna-nayake who heads an animal rights group of Sathva Mithra, that the Prince should take a moral stand against fox hunting. It is condemned even by the church of England of which his mother is the ceremonial head.
Fox hunting has been a major topic of major controversy in Britain over the past few years. Defenders of the exercise claim this old tradition is not cruel as the animal is already dead when the dogs get at it. But opponents claim they have video clips of the fox chase where the animal struggles to escape the jaws of hundreds of hunting dogs.
“It is difficult to see what enjoyment society can derive from a sport like this. Any religion or society would condemn such cruelty, and Prince Charles is in a position where he can contribute to the ban on fox hunting,” another activist said.
The most quoted quip on this controversy has come from Oscar Wilde. Referring to the English country gentleman in pursuit of the fox for his morning constitutional, Wilde described it as “the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable”.
At least 2800 babies are born each year with severe heart diseases, according to Dr. Dudley C. Halpe, a Sri Lankan doctor living abroad and now planning to organise a welfare scheme for children with heart problems.
Of this number 50 per cent will not live to be five years due to lack of monitoring and detection; 40 per cent will not reach 10 years and the remaining 10 per cent will only survive a little longer than the others, according to Mr. Jay Liyanage, Director, Rotary International gift of life programme who was in Sri Lanka last week.
He said, “Yet, only five children have been privileged to get help through the gift of life programme which helps children who are suffering from severe heart diseases of poor families to get free medical treatment abroad. And two others, S. D. Prabashini and P. V. Udani will join the previous five patients shortly.
However, problems in getting treatment for these needy children starts from the point of locating the patients.
He said that although hospitals inform them of such patients they do not keep record of the whereabouts, which leaves the gift of life authorities at a loss. Apart from having to locate the children, another problem that they face is having to pay for their air passage from Sri Lanka to Europe.
According to him, one such case was a six-year-old daughter of a three wheeler driver. “We came to know that she is in need of an urgent heart operation abroad but the hospital did not have any address, so still we are unable to locate her,” he said.
“From Europe, American Airlines will pick the child up and bring him to America for the operation.
Accommodation for the child and the mother will be provided by Rotarians and Lankan families living in America. The rest of the air passage has to be taken care of by the parents and most of the parents cannot afford it.
Patients are saved from having to spend US $ 100,000 for the entire trip, yet, the search for a sponsor for the passage to Europe has not been successful.
The patients have to be advanced cases of congenital heart disease, and they should be from poor families. They also need to get approval from cardiologists and come forward with their case material. The more serious children will get preference.
“Therefore, many of the trips are being delayed while the number of patients who could be taken also will be reduced,” he added.
A one-time southern rebel group has recruited more than 50,000 new members over the past week not only from its traditional stronghold of the South but also from areas such as Kurunegala and Polonnaruwa a spokesman said.
JVP spokesman Wimal Weerawansa said the party was delighted and tremendously inspired by the response of the people during the recruitment drive known as the “Red fortnight.”
Amidst continuing reports from intelligence sources that the JVP might be rebuilding for a third uprising, Mr. Weerawansa claimed the party had given up gun culture.
He said the JVP was reaching out and drawing a response from the people on issues such as the rising cost of living, unemployment, privatisation like the secret talks to sell AirLanka.
He also scoffed at the Government’s devolution package saying that dividing the country into political regions would not bring unity among all the races.
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