Posted in 03/09/2008

Why they\’re human rightsω…Because they are people too!

In a recent article published at "Washington Post" newspaper, the journalist Russel Paul La Valle criticized the decision made by the Spanish Parliament that approves and grants human rights to great primates.

As the author himself says, "a "right" is a moral principle that governs one\’s freedom of action in society. This concept is uniquely, and exclusively, human — man is the only being capable of grasping such an abstraction, understanding his actions within a principled framework and adjusting his behavior so as not to violate the rights of others." But this really happensω Do we see example of this in the daily newsω Is the human being the most advanced example of evolution, reaching a state of total rationality, morality and fairness in their attitudes, denying the ancestors instinctsω

Apart from that, the journalist argues that it is not coherent to award great primates with these rights because, according to him, they are "irrational and amoral creatures." This statement shows that he is not informed about the subject, as long as it has been continuously proved ω including by the academic specialists and by renowned researchers ω that there are not only morality and rationality, but also altruism and a lot of other feelings and abilities that used to be considered as homo sapiens exclusivity in the world of these primates.

The statement "man\’s survival is achieved through reason, which allows him to integrate the facts of his surroundings and apply this knowledge to use and shape the natural world for his preservation and advancement" is correct. But what is hidden between the lines is the fact that this "anthropocentric domination", led most of times by money, does not combine with the rational nature of the human species. If we are the most intelligent and own so many particularities, why don\’t we put more effort to guarantee the welfare and preservation of other speciesω Why do we insist on dominate them, with abusement and mutilation in circus, for instanceω Why exploit them with commercial purposes, denying that they are also rational beings that need the same care we needω Where is our rational side when we destroy the environment that we depend on- to liveω To sum it up, if "to respect to be respected" is a right, we are not fulfilling our obligations.

Considering that, what makes us more special than the other great primates that would justify the statement that they do not have the right to life, to freedom and to non-tortureω

To answer this question it is not necessary to have a specific academic background, not even to study the subject in depth. It is only necessary a simple observation of these great primates, not with a cold and distant look, but with a pure and sensible perspective.

But, on the contrary, we see that Mr. La Valle\’s answer demonstrates lack of emotion and prepotency typical of the human being that is leading himself to extinction, as long as it seems that he has forgotten that all species relate with each other on the same environment, each one with a singular function. The lack of sensibility and the constant and growing humane arrogance that we face nowadays justify all the chaos that the world is coming up against.

With high-technology and other breakthroughs in a lot of areas, it can not be accepted that one still insists on arguing and defending cruelty acts with any animal on behalf of science. And the situation is even more delicate when we talk about the great primates. They really are our closest relatives and for that they deserve our respect, our protection and our consideration, because sometime back there we must have "lived beyond the same ceiling".

The decision by the Spanish Parliament ω very intelligent ω must be praised and should be seen as an example for other countries, because it is time to use all our "supremacy" to make the difference, not only to enrich selfishness.

Msc. Luiz Fernando Leal Padulla
GAP Sanctuary/Sorocaba