The following is a speech that was pre-recorded by Dr Jerry Vlasak, who was barred from entering the UK by the Home Secretary David Blunkett and shown at the recent ARGathering 2004.
Greetings from America! I wish that Pamelyn and I could be with you at this terrific conference to discuss the total liberation of animals, but we are with you and the animals in spirit.
I would like to start off with a quote from Dr. Andrew Lindsey, which he delivered at a past animal rights conference; “WE HAVE SEEN AND WE KNOW! I think we can all relate to those prophetic words, because we too have SEEN and we KNOW.
For at the heart of this movement, is a simple but profound change of perception; animals are not machines, animals are not things, animals are not tools, animals are not commodities, they are not resources for us! Animals are living, sentient beings, with their own dignity, their own worth and yes their own RIGHTS! We protest against the blindness and spiritual impoverishment of those who cannot see that there are individuals of worth beyond the barrier of our own species.”
Our movement cannot be isolated in a vacuum. The animal rights movement has got to be viewed in a historical context. Our movement is no less important or radical than the fight against Apartheid or the fight against human slavery, fights against oppression in Algeria, Vietnam, Northern Ireland and other places all around the world.
We, like those freedom fighters who came before us are on the front lines, trying to educate a largely greedy, corrupt and violent society and to expose the needless suffering and agony which goes on daily inside abattoirs, laboratories and zoos; billions of animals suffer and die world wide.
On a daily basis, animals are drowned, suffocated and starved to death; they have their limbs severed and their organs crushed; they are burned, exposed to radiation and used in experimental surgeries; they are shocked, raised in isolation, exposed to weapons of mass destruction and rendered blind or paralyzed; they are given heart attacks, ulcers, paralysis, and seizures; they are forced to inhale tobacco smoke, drink alcohol, and ingest various drugs like heroine and cocaine.
Yes, we have seen and we know.
Those who perpetrate these still “legal” crimes, their utter and complete violence, callousness and indifference against non human animals, can’t and don’t want to see that what they are doing is not only a crime against God, Allah, Buddha, nature and life itself, but results in the suffering and death of millions of humans.
The University’s and the pharmaceutical industry’s “addiction” to archaic and outmoded animal research results in millions of humans getting sicker, fatter and dying of completely preventable diseases. With all the millions of dollars wasted and I repeat wasted, on the scientific fraud of vivisection, the only result is that over the past half century Cancer Deaths are UP, Strokes are Up, Heart Disease UP, Diabetes UP, Obesity Way UP.
I became a surgeon, a doctor, in order to save lives. I spent many years in preparation of my being able to work as a doctor; 4 years of university, 4 years of medical school, a year of internship and then five additional years of surgical residency. I, like the rest of my fellow students, was naive and impressionable. We had been brought up and brainwashed by the meat and dairy industries to think that flesh and cows milk made you strong and was good for you; and we had been brought up and brainwashed to believe that animal experimentation was a “necessary evil” and had to be done in order to save the lives of our patients.
Like the billion dollar meat and dairy industry spin machine, the university system and pharmaceutical industry has done a very good job at taking young impressionable students and “addicting” them to outmoded and unscientific animal research. Why do they do this? They do this because of profit, greed and power. Unfortunately corruption, lies and deceit by government and by corporations is common, and even those so called humanitarians who are supposed to care about human health are corruptible. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And so it goes even within the University of Oxford system, the sheds at Newchurch and in the labs at HLS.
I’d like to tell you two short stories. The first is about a five year old girl who came into the emergency room with appendicitis. The little girl was so obese that her breasts were as large as a girl in her teens, and she weighed twice as much as a normal child her age. She needed an emergency appendectomy and the surgery I preformed was made much more difficult by her obesity. When patients are obese, their fat layers complicate not only the actual surgery being performed, but the complication rate after surgery drastically increases. The little girl already had type II diabetes which is now common in American children. Type II diabetes is completely preventable and has historically been seen in adults who are obese themselves. But because of the meat, dairy and sugar industries, we have a new generation of children who are sick, fat and miserable. The little girl made it through surgery and when she was recovering I sat down with her and her parents and spoke to them about a low fat vegetarian diet and drinking soya milk instead of “cows” milk, which as you know is linked to all kinds of illnesses. I told her that a low fat vegetarian diet is proven to prevent the most common diseases that millions of people die from every single year; diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and hardening of the arteries. The mother began to cry and said that her little girl was teased by the other kids and couldn’t even play like a normal child because of her weight; that she was always coming down with ailments and that she was lethargic and fell asleep in school. Then the mother looked at me with tears in her eyes and asked “Why hasn’t any other doctor given us this information? “ This scenario is common in my practice, and is the direct result of the absolute power, greed and corruption of the meat and dairy industry.
The next story is about my introduction into the world of vivisection, while I was a surgical resident. I was told that I could make a name for myself if I published papers and experimented on animals; and I was told that universities were given LOTS of money by the government as long as they continued to do experiments on animals. Being the naïve young doctor and wanting to follow the lead of others, I did a year of vivisection and visited animal labs throughout the country. What I learned and what I saw with my own eyes was mind-boggling. I learned that 85% of all the data gathered from animal experiments was literally thrown away because it was of no use to anyone, human or non-human; never even published, much less used to help people. Almost all of the remainder of this data was never found useful for human healthcare. Oh and that 1 or 2% of data that was possibly, one day, maybe going to be useful in helping people? That data could have been obtained more accurately and cheaper using modern, progressive non-animal methods.
Then I learned that the pharmaceutical companies spent millions of dollars taking doctors out to dinner and paying for lavish vacations for them and their families, and in turn these “researchers” were to manipulate animal experiments to get the results that the drug industries wanted. Then I learned that the way universities get grant money isn’t by coming up with the best and most scientific research methods, but by continuing to use animals as a model because of the billions of dollars made in the vivisection industry. I learned that the vivisection industry is like the mafia; the scientists and drug companies who engage in animal research will do whatever it takes to continue the practice even though it not only harms humans, but causes enormous agony and suffering to the animals being experimented on.
Greed, corruption and absolute power; these are the things that drive the vivisection industry; NOT saving lives or preventing disease. In a world that has discovered gene expression and can look at diseases on the cellular and molecular level, animal experimentation has no and I repeat NO PLACE in 21st Century science. We now know that based on molecular biology and gene expression, a drug that reacts a certain way in a male rat, may react completely differently in a female rat. But what about primates that share 99% of our DNA? It’s not the 99% that’s important, but the 1% that makes the difference in a non-human primate reacting totally differently to a medicine or surgical procedure then a human primate. We are not going to save the lives of our fellow humans by using archaic, outmoded animal experimentation.
The scientists who still use animals in their research are not only frauds, but are addicted to an outdated form of research. That Colin Blakemore for instance, who has sewn kittens eyes closed for fun and profit, is no more of a true scientist then the mad scientists in the monster movies we watched in the 50’s. Blakemore is not a doctor. Like most animal experimenters, he is simply a “wanna be” medical doctor who didn’t have the social skills nor the brains to make it through medical school. And those medical doctors who are performing experiments on animals are simply the instruments of a corrupt university system and the pharmaceutical industry.
But what can we do about the fact that the UK is following the lead of Americans, with drug companies buying off government officials? Does the UK want to end up like America where there are two pharmaceutical lobbyists to every one member of government? No wonder prescription drugs are now being advertised on American TV like sugar-coated cereals for kids. Because of certain government officials here in the UK, your country is lapping up the worst that America has to offer. So again, what can we do about it? For one thing we must keep fighting this noble and most important of causes. We must be relentless, tenacious and creative. We can’t out-money or out-spend the universities or drug companies, but we can outsmart them. Be brave, be courageous, be creative and struggle, struggle, struggle. We WILL win this battle if we continue being as clever and as dedicated as you have been in the past half-century. Follow what other movements for great change have done. Learn the history of other movements like the fight against slavery and Apartheid. Learn from what they did and study how they did it. You who are out there fighting and doing everything possible for animal liberation are the Nelson Mandela’s of tomorrow.
Feeling the suffering of animals is no aberration, no abnormality and no extremism. That you can feel it at all, and that you are willing to do everything you can to stop that suffering, is a sign of grace. The most terrible thing of all, the most demonic, the most evil thing of all is what is so loudly proclaimed and seen in all those appalling undercover tapes from inside animal labs and slaughterhouses.
The animal rights movement is making strides unlike any other movement of our time. Where is the legislation aimed at limiting the efforts of environmental campaigners? Who is getting major press coverage? Not the anti-war movement. Not the anti-globalization movement.
The struggle for animal liberation is like no other, and because of our successes, we are beginning to incur the increasing wrath of the abusers and their lackeys in government. Their profits are threatened and so they lash out and try to dispossess our movement. But we are going to win and somewhere deep within, they know that. We are stronger than they, because we have to be. The animals are counting on us. The abusers know we have right and justice on our side and that we will never back down until they stop the torture and killing.
In closing, I’d like you to ponder this thought when you get back home after the conference has ended and you are safe and sound in your homes and have a stomach full of tofu and rice; “If it were my mother, my child, my sister or brother inside an HLS lab or the primate labs at Oxford, what would I do to save them?
We do what we do because . . . .WE HAVE SEEN AND WE KNOW!
Thank you for listening. Good afternoon and keep fighting, for we have right on our side.