Deliberately engaging in violence against animals during warfare should be declared a war crime under the Geneva Convention, the Animal Justice Party says.
Darren Brollo, Lead Senate Candidate for the Animal Justice Party, said Australia should lobby the United Nations to ensure animals are recognised as casualties of war.
“Humans start wars, not animals, yet it’s the animals who die in their millions during wartime,” Mr Brollo said.
“Sixteen million animals ‘served’ in World War I alone, and most of them never came home. And that’s not even counting all the domestic, farmed, and wild animals killed by the violent atrocities of war.
“Whether it’s conflict in Ukraine, Afghanistan, or Algeria, history has shown us that war is devastating not only to human life, but animal life and our entire natural environment.”
Mr Brollo’s comments come a day after Ukrainian animal welfare organisation UAnimals reported that Russian forces shelled “Best Friend”, a private animal shelter on the outskirts of Kyiv.
“More than a thousands dogs died in the fire,” UAnimal posted to Facebook on Wednesday.
“The Ark wild animal shelter was also attacked, with Russian forces shooting both guards and animals.”
“Like many, I’ve felt heartbroken and powerless to see the extent of the devastation occurring in Ukraine in the last few days, especially seeing photos and real-time coverage on social media,” Mr Brollo said.
“From families and their companion animals hiding in makeshift bomb shelters, to homes and animal shelters being violently obliterated, it’s clear animals are also suffering and dying.”
The Animal Justice Party says animals are often the forgotten victims of war, but this is changing as society increasingly considers animals’ ability to feel and, ultimately, suffer.
“I’m sure many Australians are now not only considering what it’d be like to have their families torn apart overnight by a military invasion, but what it’d be like to have to leave their dog or cat behind, or otherwise try to carry them through a warzone,” Mr Brollo said.
11 March 2022
Image: An injured dog is seen at the ADA foundation centre in Przemysl, southeastern Poland, March 2022. Photograph via India Today.