Petition: Let the horses live in their homes

The carraige horses of Istanbul’s islands, before they were quarantined on Dec. 20, 2019.

On the Islands of Istanbul, Turkey, horses are dying imprisoned!

The horses that had previously been used in horse carriages in Istanbul’s islands have been tucked into stables since December 20, 2019, on grounds that there is glanders disease. Although 105 horses are killed for this reason, about 1400 others were decided to be kept under quarantine in their stables, banning the use of carriages for 3 months until March 20, 2020. The Governorate of Istanbul extended the period for 3 more months on March 16, although the Dept. of Agriculture confirms there are no glanders, and almost all the carriages are bought by the Municipality of Istanbul.

We demand that the horses of the islands live in their homes and preserved as part of the habitat.

The major obstacle preventing this is that the Governorship of Istanbul (Valilik) does not designate a suitable location for housing the horses. Despite our efforts and ongoing campaigns, on 25 March the stables of Burgazada and on 27 March those of Heybeliada were razed down. The horses urgently need a permanent location to live on the islands.

Within the 3 months quarantine accompanied with the ban of using the horses on carriages, tens of horses passed away because they weren’t able to run during this period. As of 23 March 2020, it is estimated that 360 horses have died.

Almost all of the carriages and horses have been bought by the Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, which has now gathered them all on Büyükada, without a paddock to let them move.

One of the horses who died of issues due to lack of movement,
Istanbul Municipality’s official stables, Büyükada, Istanbul Islands, Feb. 13, 2020.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Governorship of Istanbul do not appoint a suitable location neither on the Islands nor in Istanbul, nor in any other location. A paddock that would help the horses maintain their health was not opened although this request was endorsed with a petition of over 30.000 signatures. The Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul declares this is because the Governorship of Istanbul doesn’t allocate land to use as a paddock.

The Municipality of Istanbul, now the legal owner of almost all the horses on the island, has no horse veterinary. Neither the number of stablemen nor the magnitude of the municipality’s tents are sufficient to accommodate so many horses. The Directorate of Agriculture has not been adequately checking the animals’ health. These have contributed to the terrible death toll of the islands’ horses.

The horses in Burgaz and Heybeliada -two smaller islands- on the other hand, have been taken care of by families who owned them for many years until now. None of the horses looked after by these families have died, and no cases of glanders were found among them.

Remaining on the islands will save the horses, and if horse carriages may not be used, the horses may earn their living through therapy activities, fundamental horse-riding classes, or horse excursions. These activities can easily be implemented and controlled. We want the islands to be a paragon place where the horses and humans live together in harmony.

Current Situation:

  • With the ones transferred from the other islands, 1167 horses are kept in Büyükada -the main island- in plastic tents.
  • In Burgaz, the stables have 2 ancient wells (and maybe 1 cistern) possibly dating back to the Byzantine era, while in Heybeli’s stable area there is a cobblestone path left from the Ottoman era. These need to be studied by archaeologists, before the are is completely demolished.
  • If the stablemen in Büyükada would be unable to work due to the Corona pandemic, the horses will perish.

We demand:

  • The Horses should remain on the islands and should be free to move around.
  • The Governorship of Istanbul should show a suitable place to house the horses. The remaining stables shouldn’t be demolished, they should be renovated with appropriate sanitary conditions.
  • An archaeological survey should be conducted in the area where the stables are located.
  • The islanders should be permitted to keep horses.
  • The islands’ horses should not face the fate of the carriage horses in Izmir, who are now used in serum production.

To sign the petition, click here

For more information in English, please see here. (A previous, more detailed version of the ever-worsening situation).

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