Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province this week destroyed thousands of animals believed to be infected with the H7N9 avian flu, briefly detaining Tibetan caretakers who had tried to block the slaughter, Tibetan sources say.
The animals, including poultry and rabbits, were being looked after in three separate locations in Sichuan’s Dzoege (in Chinese, Ruo’ergai) county in the Ngaba (Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a Tibetan living in India told RFA’s Tibetan Service.
Raised for sale by a Chinese business concern, the animals had been purchased by local Tibetans concerned they would be killed after their infection was discovered, RFA’s source said, citing contacts in the region.
“On May 2, they were destroyed by Chinese armed police at all three locations on the pretext of containing the spread of bird flu,” the source said.
“Local Tibetans resisted their destruction, saying that according to Tibetan religious belief, animals that are once saved from slaughter should never be killed,” the source said, adding that a number of those obstructing the police were then detained.
“But the authorities later released them all,” he said.
Funds used by the Tibetans to buy and save the animals had been donated by a local horse-race association, RFA’s source said.
“The association, which raised the money from horse racing, contributed generously toward the animals’ purchase in order to spare their lives.”
“Thus, thousands of the animals had been bought and were being looked after in three separate locations through proper feeding and care,” he said.
The practice of saving lives, called tsethar in Tibetan, is common among Buddhists, who believe that sparing the lives of animals will generate merit that can improve future rebirths for the one performing the act.
Saving the lives of animals destined for slaughter is especially recommended by Tibetan religious teachers as a beneficial form of spiritual practice.
Reported by Lobe Socktsang for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney.