July 30, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Chennai – At a news conference in Chennai today, PETA India announced that US retailer Liz Claiborne – with annual sales of US$4.8 billion – has given PETA US fresh assurances that it will not use leather from India because of the cruel treatment of animals here. Kenneth Cole – another US retailer, with annual sales of US$518 million – has also weighed in, giving its commitment to PETA US that it will not sell leather from Indian animals.

Pointing to seven years’ worth of video and photo evidence showing illegal treatment of animals in the Indian leather trade, PETA India and its worldwide affiliates have re-launched a campaign which was put on hold in good faith when the Indian government and the Council for Leather Exports (CLE) promised to take significant steps to ameliorate transport and slaughter horrors for cows and other animals used for leather – a promise which both the government and the CLE have broken.

When PETA US launched its original boycott of Indian leather in 2000, more than 40 major retailers around the world agreed to boycott Indian leather. The Indian leather industry lost an estimated $68 million as a result of these companies’ decisions.

The campaign re-launch follows PETA India’s verification of a total lack of enforcement of animal welfare standards promised by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the late Minister of Commerce Murasoli Maran, a refusal by the CLE to stop supporting illegal slaughterhouses and CLE’s failure to take significant action to alleviate the immense suffering of animals used for leather.

In a letter to M M Hashim, chair of the CLE’s Core Committee on Animal Welfare Reform Programme, PETA points out that the CLE’s modus operandi has been to do as little as possible and to stall as much as possible in an effort to keep PETA’s campaign at bay while leather exporters continue to profit from the illegal abuse of animals.

PETA India and its affiliates put CLE’s promises to a final test by offering a draft memorandum of understanding spelling out specific basic actions which would reduce the suffering of animals in the leather trade. After sitting on the memorandum for nine months, the CLE ultimately refused even to negotiate with PETA India about its contents.

“The suffering of cows and other animals is horrific, yet our government has done nothing to reduce the suffering of even one bullock, while the Indian leather industry supports the unabated torture of animals”, says PETA India Coordinator for Campaigns and Legal Affairs N.G. Jayasimha. “We expect a flood of retailers to pledge their boycott of Indian leather – and rightly so.”

PETA India investigations spanning seven years reveal that Indian animals used for leather are transported in such poor and crowded conditions that their bones often break and they often suffocate or die en route to slaughter. The animals are routinely dragged, beaten, and otherwise cruelly and illegally mishandled. At all municipal slaughterhouses, animals are slaughtered in full view of each other, which is illegal. Although it claims to have an animal welfare reform programme, the CLE refuses to initiate any action to prevent leather businesses from obtaining hides and skins from suppliers which mistreat animals – even from unlicensed, illegal slaughterhouses.

PETA India’s campaign has gained the support of celebrities all over the world, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Sir Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson and Jackie Chan.