February 3, 2012
Operation Infinite Patience: February 3, 2012
The criminal case against Dutch citizen Erwin Vermeulen is a farce. The allegations against Erwin are false. It is very rare in Japan for such a minimal infraction to be charged, much less tried. Erwin is not the one on trial here however. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is on trial. The Netherlands is on trial.
Most of the Dutch government and most Dutch citizens support Sea Shepherd in its efforts to stop the illegal activities of the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean. Two of our ships proudly fly the Dutch flag. The Japanese government is the criminal there, but the government of Japan cannot face that reality and therefore push their shame and responsibility onto Erwin. Erwin is a Dutch citizen standing for the dolphins with Sea Shepherd.
The police overreacted and the prosecutors overreached in an attempt to scare us away. It has had the opposite effect and this court trial exposes the absurdity of Wakayama’s “finest.” It is an embarrassment. I am a retired professional US federal law enforcement officer. I have to assess the performance of the Wakayama Prefecture Police and declare them to be seriously deficient. The Wakayama Prefecture Prosecutor’s Office is a joke. If what I have witnessed here is typical then real criminals have nothing to fear in Wakayama Prefecture. The arrest, so-called investigation, and the execution of the search warrant were below any passable standards from a basic law enforcement academy. The supervisors and managers involved should be relieved of their positions and sent back for basic training.
We are working within Japanese law and they know it. They built their best attempt to thwart us around the mumblings of a punk kid who was caught slacking on the job. In an attempt to protect his job, he fabricated a story, which was seized upon by the police and prosecutors. I actually feel sorry for the police and prosecutors. They look like idiots. I cannot imagine the judge is happy that his time is being wasted on such a thing. The trial continues on February 16 with closing arguments and then on February 22, the judge will render his verdict. It is called “Judgment Day.”
Through it all, Erwin remains behind bars. He was brought into the courtroom in handcuffs and tied up with a rope. Supposedly Japan is an advanced first world nation. It is a charade.
Erwin is visibly thinner and has lost at least 12.5% of his body weight. Erwin is paying the price for being Dutch and for Wakayama Prefecture police incompetence. The prosecution has nothing on Erwin and so they tried to question him in court about our taking photographs of dolphin killers and trainers. The prosecutor asked Erwin if he thought the (read killers and trainers) might be offended by the photography. Erwin responded that their killing of dolphins offends him.
What about the incident with turtle guy? Masayuki Miyoshi is the leader of the dolphin killers. Over the years, he has assaulted several activists. He admitted he attacked Rosie and Tarah. There is even a film of the assault and yet we have learned that because Rosie did not sign her statement, the prosecutors refuse to move it forward. What if she had been killed? Would her murderer get to go free because she was not able to sign a statement? No, this just confirms that it is the Dutch and Sea Shepherd who are on trial here.
Meanwhile back in Taiji, our numbers are increasing. Erwin’s arrest has encouraged many more volunteers to come. We have lots of room for more volunteers and if you want to join us, especially in February and March. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A reporter recently asked me what I thought of the fact that the people of Taiji are tired of Sea Shepherd’s presence and of all the police in Taiji. I told him that I can understand their frustration, but the people of Taiji have a responsibility for what occurs in their community. The dolphin killers in their midst bring unimaginable shame upon themselves, their families, their town, and their country. Because the people of Taiji allow this to happen, they must embrace that shame as well and accept the consequences.
Mr. Nakahira is well known to us. Last season he spent many days in Taiji driving around with his loudspeaker truck. Mr. Nakahira is a smart man. He has observed the reality in Taiji. He has seen that the dolphin killing has nothing to do with tradition. He has seen how the children in Taiji are brought to tears by the whole thing. The children now know what happens to dolphins in their town and they cannot imagine how their parents can allow this to happen. Everyone in town sees us in their midst and they certainly see all of the police activity. They want their quiet lives back. They want to see an end to the wasteful spending by the authorities. They want their children to be at peace. Many are now grasping for anything that might solve the problem, even catering to westerners who think “sweetness and light” and befriending the killers can bring about change. I call them “rainbow farters.” It has not worked these past forty years. It only has a chance now because the people of Taiji are desperate for us to leave. Mr. Nakahira has figured it out though. It is very simple. Sea Shepherd needs to go home. No question about it, but he knows that we will not go until the killing of dolphins, for any reason or use, stops in this place. So he now encourages the people of Taiji to listen to their children and force the dolphin killers to find other work. Only then will Sea Shepherd leave them alone and thus the police will also leave. The children will be the future here. Listen to them.
Until then, we are here. We will be setting up a year round presence so if the people of Taiji think there will be a break from the pressure, think again.
On Tuesday, 40 Striped dolphins were separated from their large pod and driven into the cove. One brave and desperate soul tried to make a run for it. We watched in horror as a killer bore down on this dolphin with his skiff in reverse. Immediately after this photograph was taken, blood sprayed up into the air and the outboard motor locked up. The dolphin descended to the bottom. She escaped an even worse fate, which was handed out to her family members. The killers have adopted pithing after film showed them randomly spearing the dolphins. Pithing is supposedly a more “humane” destruction method. However we have recently seen through cracks in the tarps what really happens. The pithing rod is jammed into the dolphins’ backs behind the blowhole, often more than once. Because it does not enter their brains and only their spinal column, death is very unlikely. Paralysis is the expected outcome. The dolphins remain conscious. They die by drowning on the way to the butcher house or when they are gutted there. Taiji is a despicable place. No wonder the children are crying.
Cove Guardian Campaign Coordinator