Heal Our Planet Earth
Japanese whaling fleet takes 2 Sea Shepherd members hostage + commentary by Anthony Marr
Activists taken hostage
THE war between whalers and protesters has escalated dramatically, with an Australian man allegedly beaten and tied up aboard a Japanese vessel, hours after a court ruled the Antarctic whale hunt was illegal.
Benjamin Potts, 28, a helicopter assistant from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's vessel, the Steve Irwin, and Giles Lane, 35, a Briton, were detained yesterday after boarding the moving whaling catcher boat the Yushin Maru No. 2 in the icy Antarctic.
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The leader of Sea Shepherd, Captain Paul Watson, said the incident happened after the group's vessel broke up the whaling fleet's attempt to resupply in the Southern Ocean.
The two men had boarded the whaling ship in an attempt to deliver a letter telling the whalers to leave the Antarctic, Captain Watson said. "First the whalers tried to throw them overboard, then they tied them to a bulkhead and were beating them," Captain Watson told Fairfax. "We are asking the Australian Government to help with this."
A spokesman for the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, said: "The Government is investigating the reports as a matter of priority."
Sea Shepherd's international director, Jonny Vasic, said the two men were not allowed to leave the whaling vessel after delivering their letter. "We have a photo that shows that when they were held they were basically strapped by the arms with zip-ties and tied with rope around their chests, and then they were held there for several hours in the cold and then, about 2½ to three hours after that, they were taken below," he said.
Despite the photograph from Sea Shepherd appearing to show the two men having been tied up, the director-general of Japan's Institute of Cetacean Research, Minoru Morimoto, said: "Any accusations that we have tied them up or assaulted them are completely untrue."
Mr. Morimoto accused them of trying to entangle the screw of the whaling ship with ropes and throwing bottles of acid onto the decks.
Earlier, a Federal Court decision raised the pressure on the Federal Government to act against the whalers if they continued to hunt in the Australian Whale Sanctuary in the Antarctic.
Commentary by Anthony Marr:
Having learned how the Japanese invaded my mother's village in China during WW2 and how they tortured and killed the villagers, and how they almost took my mother as a "comfort woman", and how brutally they treated their POWs, and having myself been interrogated four times in my two trips to Japan, once lasting 2 hours in Shimonoseki where the whaling fleet assembled before embarkation for the Antarctic, and another lasting 1.5 hours in Katsura near Taiji where thousands of dolphins are slaughtered every year, I know how unpleasant an ordeal these two SCS members must now be experiencing. Let's make sure that they be returned to the Steve Irwin unharmed and unscathed.
Anthony Marr, founder Heal Our Planet Earth
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