On the evening of March 24, 2007, leading members of the news and entertainment media found themselves basking in the Hollywood spotlight when the winners of the 21st Genesis Awards were announced in a glittering ceremony, a black tie event, in the International Ball Room of the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Presented by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the annual Genesis Awards is the only event of its kind which celebrates for showcasing animal-protection and animal-rights issues.
The awards were given under 18 categories that included feature films, TV shows, and print media where this year’s Brigitte Bardot International Award for print media went to SOUTHASIA, an English Journal from Karachi, Pakistan. Other nominations for this prestigious award were The Evening Standard (UK) and the Sunday Times (UK). SOUTHASIA, in one of its special features had given an excellent coverage to the joint investigation carried out by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Animals Australia on the live-export of Australian sheep for the Middle East consumption under the most treacherous conditions where many die painfully during their voyage due to dehydration, salmonella infections, insanitation (failure to eat) or simply being crushed to death by other sheep because of the over crowding. The footage from these investigations was also aired by Australia’s popular current affairs show 60 Minutes. Besides this coverage, the magazine also carried some very valuable Animal Rights articles from a wide spectrum of contributors: from a young PETA-activist Nadia Montasser (Cairo, Egypt) to the legendary like The Revd. Professor Andrew Linzey, Member of the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford. To accept the award from the hands of the celebrity Steve Valentine was SOUTHASIA’s contributing Editor Syed Wamiq Jawaid, currently a graduate student in Political Anthropology at Columbia University at New York, NY. In his acceptance speech Wamiq Jawaid thanked the HSUS, and the staff of SOUTHASIA and its founders Zeba Jawaid and Syed Jawaid Iqbal for their support for this work. Wamiq Jawaid made special acknowledgment to PETA’s work that led to this award-winning-issue of SOUTHASIA. It is important to point out that there was a great applause and clapping in the ball room when PETAâ€™s name was mentioned, showing a great degree of admiration that the Animal Rights and Animal Protection community has for PETA.
Until the previous year the Brigitte Bardot International Award was given exclusively for TV/Film category. This was the first year that “PRINT” category was added to the Brigitte Bardot International Award, and thus SOUTHASIA became the first recipient of this newly added category of award. In the Film/TV category the Brigitte Bardot International/TV/Film award went to SABC2 (South Africa) for “Hunters Become Hunted” that gave the coverage to the work of the Sea Shepherd team in its brave attempts to stop Japanese whalers from killing the ocean’s gentle giants in the water of Antarctica.
Awards given under the various categories, all related to media since the founder of the event Gretchen Wyler a former Broadway headliner and 40-year animal welfare activist (now retired) has always believed in her motto that “cruelty can’t stand the spot light”. In fact, her motto holds true for the oppression and cruelty of all kinds and to “all species” humans and animals, and where the media has its obligations and an important role to play. Among the recipients for the 18 categories were, Fast Food Nation (Feature Film), Charlotte’s Web (Family Feature Film), Larry King Live, for Canadian seal hunt (TV Talk Show), CBS News 60 Minutes for “The Orphanage”, “Shooting Tigers,” and “Global Warning!” The most distinct award, also the first of its kind, was the Wyler Award that was introduced for the first time this year as a tribute to the founder Gretchen Wyler who herself presented this award to Sir Paul McCartney for his enduring commitment to being a compassionate and powerful voice of the animals. Since Paul McCartney was unable to attend the event he accepted the award with thanks and spoke to the audience through giant TV screens above the stage. Sir Paul McCartney was moved by this honor, especially when he was the very first person receiving this award.
In a reception before the start of event about 800 attendees had a chance to mix and mingle with celebrities like Bill Maher, James Cromwell, Steve Valentine, Paula Perrette, Persia White and more. The reception was followed by an exquisite vegan dinner that contained no animal products of any kind since, besides being killed for food, a large number of milk cows and egg laying hens go through excruciating pain and suffering through their entire life while providing these products for humans. The animal rights and animal protection community finds no pleasure in satisfying their palate while knowing of the suffering the animals go through during the process of food production. This was the first time the chef Jeff Vosburgh had prepared vegan meal; it included Kabocha Raoiviloi with portabello mushroom and other veggie ingredient served with soy ginger tempeh in an herb soy ginger sauce along with variety of eggless rolls served with olive tapenade and non-dairy spread. The food was delicious and the guests commended the chef and his staff. Recognition also has to be given to Ann Gentry the owner of Real Food Daily with whom the chef had consulted and got the recipe from. It would also be the right place to mention that this year the Genesis Award team has implemented a new Green Policy where they are using vegan and re-cycled products at all occasion whenever possible.
In his welcoming address Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, described the paradox of animal protection movement today. He said “there is more exploitation of animals causing them tremendous amount of suffering than ever before yet on the other hand there are more people determined to fight cruelty than ever before”. Pacelle described this gathering as one of the marquee events for the animal protection movement – a chance to recognize the best of humanity as well as the more enlightened media. Our relationship to animals, Pacelle reminded the gathering, “is a test of our character. We hold power over animals… we recognize that animals have the same spark of life that we do.” The two and a half hour event adjourned with closing comments from the actor James Cromwell who thanked the attendees for their participation and ended his speech with Gretchen Wyler’s famous and thoughtful quote:
Animals should have the right to run if they have legs… to swim if they have fins… and to fly if they have wings.
After the event, once again, the attendees and the celebrities mingled and socialized in the adjacent Beverly Hills Ball Room where some were on the dance floor while other just carried out conversation on a cup of coffee and vegan desserts, while still others were bidding on the silent auctions that ranged from Ten Nights in Australia and New Zealand with a value of $31, 034 down to $40 gift certificate for Babouch Moroccan Restaurant, San Pedro, CA. All proceeds from the Silent Auctions were for charity works for animals.
The “After-Party” party lasted until 2:00 am when everyone was ready to retire. When leaving the party everyone was given a gift bag of some small items and samples such as cat toys, vegetarian dog food, cruelty free cosmetics (meaning cosmetics that were not tested on animals) and many more eco-friendly items of every day use.
Report and photos prepared by:
President, Engineers and Scientists for Animal Rights
Board Member, Animals and Society Institute
173 Hawthorne Way Silicon Valley/ San Jose,
Phone/Fax 408 971 6657, Cell 408 393 6657
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