Twenty officers of the Wakayama Prefecture police have raided the Charmant Hotel where the Cove Guardians are quartered near Taiji, Japan. Armed with a warrant, the police seized computers, phones, hard drives, photos, cameras and anything they deemed 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 Dolphins are being detained and have been cut off from communication with the outside world. One of the Cove Guardians managed to get word back to Sea Shepherd 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 crackdown against a group that has not committed a single infraction and have operated strictly within the boundaries of Japanese law.
Sea Shepherd is anxiously awaiting word of the Cove Guardians’ release from detainment. If there is no word, it will be assumed they have been incarcerated at the jail in Shingu.
None of the Cove Guardians were arrested during the raid on their hotel but all laptops, cameras, phones 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.
This year's killing season in Taiji will go on through the end of March, 2012. Sea Shepherd is encouraging the public to send emails, letters, phone calls, and other communications to local Taiji government offices, the Fishermen's Union (FU), Taiji Whale Museum, Dolphin Base, the Dolphin Resort hotel, and Japanese embassies and consulates around the world. They are also requesting donations to cover immediate replacement of at least one laptop and several SD cards for the volunteers' cameras, so that their documentation work can continue immediately. Addresses for public input include the following:
Mr. Yoshiki Kimura, Governor of Wakayama prefecture
(Mr. Kimura's office issues the drive fishery permit, thus granting permission for the annual dolphin slaughter.)
E-mail: [email protected]
Public comment lines: +81-73-441-2028
Japanese Embassies Worldwide