After two months in China I could feel the weight of oppression, government control and the lack of freedoms weighing on me like a lead pipe across my shoulders. This was my lengthiest visit to a country where the government has such a restrictive grip upon its people. For me it was new and extremely uncomfortable. As I said in a previous blog my website was temporarily blocked in China within a few days of arriving. I assume that one of the thousands of Internet patrollers working for the government found my website too opinionated and not suitable for China. I had to a purchase a virtual private network (VPN) to gain access to all of my web accounts and to the international uncensored news.
As I travelled the country I met so many want-to-be activists that were anxious to make the world a better place but felt bound within the restrictive environment in which they live. I met many energetic, passionate, young people who are ready to stand up for animals. They all were looking for feedback and advice as to how to move forward. They told me that to protest is illegal in China, to demonstrate is illegal in China and to express any negative thoughts against the Chinese government will surely result in negative repercussions from the authorities. Their stories frustrated me for their sake and for animals. Each NGO (non-government organization) that I spent time with made a point of asking me to never portray the government in a negative light while mentioning their names or work. For them I will stop talking about the Chinese government now and move onto something much more pleasant.
Merely 24 hours after leaving China and arriving on Canadian soil I was proudly marching down Toronto’s busiest street with thousands of others demonstrating for love, peace and solidarity for animals. June 2nd was Toronto’s 3rd Annual Veggie Pride Parade and it was the best welcome home ever! For 2 hours the busiest street in Toronto was jammed with people of all ages, religions and races joining together to exercise their freedom of speech and express their desire for peace for all. There were dancers, musicians, doctors, chefs, mothers, students and politicians alike all out to show the world that a vegetarian lifestyle is fun, healthy and compassionate. It was just what the doctor ordered for my activist soul.
For my friends in China, you are my heroes. Lacking the luck of being born into a society that exercises freedom of speech your obstacles are greater and your work even harder. However, I know that you won’t give up no matter what restraints that you are forced to work under. I have faith that one day the streets of China will also be filled with animal loving activists legally promoting peace and love.