|Monday, November 24, 2003|
The Last Samurai in Taiji - Report from Nik Hensey
Nik Hensey has been on the front lines of the campaign in Taiji since September. On Sunday, November 23, we asked him to come home. He could do no more. The Japanese police had confiscated all our cameras. The killing continues but Nik no longer has the equipment to document the bloody slaughter. Allison Lance Watson and Alexander Cornilessen remain in jail for the "crime" of releasing 15 dolphins. The police will not allow Nik to visit with or communicate with Allison and Alex.
For two months Nik has patrolled the waterfront, skirmished with Japanese dolphin killers, documented brutal atrocities, been interrogated by the police, and weathered the verbal and physical abuse of those Japanese who refer to this torture and killing of dolphins as their "culture".
Taiji is a town without honor, a town that wallows in cowardice as their men inflict pain and death on defenseless gentle creatures like the dolphins and whales. They serve the interests of their own greed and their own sadism.
The term Samurai means "to serve" and the Sea Shepherd crew, all unpaid volunteers having been selflessly serving the dolphins and the whales.
It is Nik, Alex and Allison who remain the last Samurai in Taiji.
This is Nik's report . . .
For nearly two months I have been stationed in Taiji, Japan and in that time have been witness to some of the most horrific acts of brutality and bloodshed against living, sentient beings. I have been forced to watch as "fishermen" drove spears into the heads of a small pod of Striped Dolphins and a week later, as the heat visibly rose from the open wounds of a recently killed whale, I videotaped the butchers while they hacked off her pectoral fins. I have seen a pod of nearly fifty terrified Pilot Whales frantically thrash about as the males in the pod sought to protect, to no avail, nursing mothers and newborns from the boats of the Taiji "fishermen," and I have experienced daily the mind-numbing callousness of a community of whalers who seek exemption from international condemnation by evoking notions of "culture" and "tradition".
With the crimson waters and bloody corpses of over one hundred whales and dolphins in the last two months I see no "tradition" being played out-only greed. These killers view the oceans as nothing more than a toilet and an asset to be liquidated. When they are not discarding their trash and oil into the water, urinating into the harbor, or tossing off their cigarette butts, this handful of men will go to any extreme to preserve their financial interests. They are not concerned that their hunting practices are unsustainable, nor do they care that dolphins are one of the most intelligent species on the planet--they are driven not by culture and certainly not by logic or compassion. My eyes see blood red, their eyes see only the color of money. Despite attempts to keep the rest of Japan and the world ignorant of the cruelty and impropriety that exists in Taiji, Japan, the whole world is watching.
It has been a long two months, living in a tiny trailer, existing off of tofu and wasabi in a small seaside town, and watching dolphins being slaughtered while under 24-hour police surveillance (that somehow serves as no deterrent to threats being made against my life). I am here in Taiji because my crewmates and I are driven by compassion and the rage that burns throughout my body at the sight of injustice and brutality. I have defiantly held my ground alone in Taiji on many occasions despite the threats of arrest and violence because I refuse to back down. I have been here as a volunteer.
There are some who have called us "terrorists" for saving dolphins here. If we are terrorists for believing that life is more important than property, than what terms does one reserve for those who take life, threaten life, and engage in the wholesale slaughter of innocent life? One must ask her/himself: "What drives someone to the point where s/he feels it necessary to jump into cold waters to save a pod of dolphins?" That pod of dolphins four days ago would have been butchered (except for those that were to be sold into captivity) and the local government, police, and whalers have made it impossible for us to document the slaughter and to educate the public about the massacres of Taiji. We were left no alternative as the Taiji Town Office and local police made it illegal to climb rocks and hillsides, walk near a pod of penned dolphins after 5:30pm, say out overnight in the hills, or go anywhere within eyesight of the blockaded cove as there was a "danger" of "falling rocks" that was only present when a pod was driven in.
And what do the police do when we react to their illegitimate laws and restrictions aimed at preventing us from documenting the slaughter? They raid our living space and seize all of our equipment.
The bogus new laws of Taiji and their "Danger: Falling Rocks, No Trespassing" signs are nothing more than a smokescreen for the bloody slaughter that occurs behind those signs and obstructions. Clearly there was no danger of falling rocks, but like their "culture" argument, it is an attempt at a baseless defense for brutality that has no legitimate defense in the 21st century. The fact of the matter is that the dolphin drives of Taiji are big business for a handful of men, and the biggest profit comes not from dolphin and whale meat, but from the live dolphins that are sold into captivity. If aquariums and "swimming with the dolphins" operations are a part of Japanese "culture," than I might stand corrected. But first show me the Kanji scrolls.
Whether for culture or profit, the dolphin and whale cultures of the oceans are being threatened. These are cultures that have existed long before man ever walked barefoot along the continents and millennia before man (both Eastern and Western) began imposing his culture on others. When the oceans are void of the Dolphin and the Whale, and the last Taiji restaurant has sold the last piece of whale flesh, what will we tell generations to come? What will we tell our children and our grandchildren who ask us about the mythical giants who once swam the oceans? Will the whalers of Taiji tell our children it was their "culture"? To claim tradition at the expense of exterminated species just doesn't seem sufficient.
There are two paths we can go down--one ends in the destruction of life and the other ends with its preservation. When asked by future generations what role I played in the destruction of the animal nations, my crewmates and I can proudly say that we stood in their defense.