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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Japanese Police Raid Sea Shepherd Cove Guardians

Twenty officers of the Wakayama Prefecture police have raided the Clarmant Hotel where the Cove Guardians are quartered near Taiji, Japan.
Armed with a warrant the police as seizing computers, phones, hard drives, photos, cameras and anything they deem suspicious.
No reasons have been given for the raid and the Cove Guardians have been careful to not violate local laws.
The raid follows the arrest of Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen who was charged with assault on the word of an employee of the Dolphin Resort Hotel. Erwin was attempting to film the transfer of dolphins from the sea to holding pens at the resort. The employee claims that Erwin pushed him. There were no other witnesses to this allegation.
In contrast a recent assault on two female Cove Guardians by a fisherman resulted in the fisherman being questioned and released despite video evidence of the assault.
At present the Cove Guardians, Scott, Melissa and Ron and also Heather from Save Japan’s Dolphins are being detained and have been cut off from communication with the outside world.
Nicole MacLaughlan managed to get word to us because she was leaving the hotel to go to Osaka just as the police made their move to raid the hotel.
It appears that the police are acting out of frustration and desperation with a crack down against a group that has not committed a single infraction and have operated strictly within the boundaries of Japanese law.
We anxiously await word of their release from detainment and if we hear nothing we will assume they have been incarcerated at the jail in Shingu.

Following Watson's update, Heather Hill also in Taiji with Save Japan Dolphins posted to the Facebook page Save Misty the Dolphin that her room, computer, camera, body and car had been searched.  Said Hill, "Am not being allowed to check on the others at this time but I have been left to my room so I have contact again."
Several minutes later Brian Barnes, also of Save Japan Dolphins (but not presently in Taiji), reported that no arrests were made, however, police did take some computers.
Earlier in the day the Cove Guardians witnessed one of the most brutal slaughters of dolphins this season.  According to Nicole McLachlan, "A large pod of Striped dolphins frantically fought for their lives within the killing cove before the Dolphin killers slaughtered every last one."
Just prior to press time for this report, Paul Watson released the following statement on facebook, None of the Cove Guardians were arrested during the raid on their hotel but all laptops, cameras, phone were seized without cause from all the Cove Guardians.  The Cove Guardians have been robbed of their property and their ability to document the atrocities at Taiji.  This is an act of desperation in an attempt to muzzle free speech and to cover-up the horrific slaughter of the dolphins at the Cove.  Now more than ever, the Cove Guardians need volunteers on the ground in the faces of the killers.
Today’s incident sent shockwaves through the marine mammal advocacy community.  Unable to hide the killings behind the blue tarps that litter The Cove, Taiji is now going on an offensive against activists who are armed only with cameras and video recorders and who seek nothing more than to shine the light of truth on the ongoing travesty of the bloody killing Cove in Taiji, Japan.

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