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Kiwis say "arrest me too" in bid to end whaling

Kiwis say "arrest me too" in bid to end whaling

Wellington December 10 2008 - Greenpeace today set up an anti-whaling stand outside the Japanese embassy in Wellington where during the lunch hour around 150 people had 'mug shot' style photos taken that read "co-defendant, arrest me as well I want to save the whales". The photos will be presented shortly to the Japanese Embassy.

The event took place the day after the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1] and was part of an international call to end the political persecution of two Greenpeace activists. Japan has been consistently criticised by the UN for restricting freedom of expression [2].

In a letter to Japanese Ambassador Takahashi, Greenpeace called the Japanese Government to end its annual whale hunt in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary and drop charges laid against two Greenpeace Japan activists.

Following a Greenpeace undercover investigation in May 2008 that exposed the embezzlement of whale meat [3] from the taxpayer-funded whaling fleet, Japanese authorities responded with a politically-motivated prosecution, arresting Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki and raiding the Greenpeace Japan office in June 2008. They have now been awaiting trial for 172 days under bail conditions which prevent them from continuing their Greenpeace campaign work to end whaling [4]. The trial is expected to begin early next year; they are both facing up to 10 years imprisonment.

"We want the Japanese Prime Minister Aso to know that if Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki are to be tried for exposing whale meat embezzlement and working to end the killing of whales in the Japanese Government's 'research' programme in the Southern Ocean, then we should all be arrested," said Bunny McDiarmid, Executive Director of Greenpeace New Zealand. "It's not Greenpeace activists who should be put on trial; it is the Government-backed whaling programme in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary."

The group declared themselves 'co-defendants' and included Greenpeace supporters and members of the public.

Meanwhile, yesterday at Japanese embassies in Brazil, USA, Argentina, France, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Canada, Italy and on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, activists this week declared themselves as 'co-defendants', by asking the Japanese Government to "Arrest Me Too" and to put "Whaling on Trial".

See the story online at : http://www.greenpeace.org.nz/arestme

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1) December 10th is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." (Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

2) In a periodic evaluation completed in October 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Committee severely reprimanded the Japanese Government for the "unreasonable restrictions placed on freedom of expression" in Japan. It also condemned the abuse of trespass laws by Japanese police to harass activists who are critical of government policy. UN Human Rights Committee, Ninety-fourth session, Geneva, 30th October 2008. UN Doc. CCPR/C/JPN/CO/5, para. 26, available at:
http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/co/CCPR-C-JPN-CO.5.doc

3) Greenpeace investigation: Japan's stolen whale meat scandal, May 15 2008 - dossier available from:
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/whale-meat-scandal-dossier

4) Junichi and Toru were arrested on June 20th, and spent 26 days in custody before being charged. Bail conditions include stipulations that they request permission to be away from home for more than three days and that they do not associate with other Greenpeace staff:
http://www.greenpeace.org/tokyo-two

ENDS

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