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Activists held Hostage by Whalers in Whale Sanctuary

by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
When the Captain of the Yashin Maru No 2 hunter killer ship refused to respond to any radio communication from the anti-whale activists on board the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin, a decision was made to send two crew members to board the Yashin Maru No2 with a written message to the Captain of the vessel.
gpandsea-img40.jpg

Photo of Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane on board the Yashin Maru No 2. Photo Courtesy ICR

The crew members were detained by the crew of the Japanese whaler, initially being tied up on deck for a number of hours. They have since been taken below decks and detained in a secure room.

Captain Paul Watson, on board the Steve Irwin, had drafted the following letter and sent Australian Benjamin Potts and Briton Giles Lane in a Zodiac boat to the Yushin Maru No 2 to hand deliver it to the Japanese ship's captain.

To: The Captain of any Japanese ship involved with poaching operations in The Australian Antarctic Territorial Economic Exclusion Zone.

Sir,

My name is Giles David Lane.

I am a British citizen and an unpaid volunteer on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Steve Irwin.

I have come onboard your ship because you have refused to acknowledge communication from our ship pertaining to your illegal activities in the waters of the Australian Antarctic Territorial Economic Exclusion Zone.

I am not boarding your ship with the intent to commit a crime, to rob you or to inflict injury upon your crew and yourself or damage to your ship.

My reason for boarding is to deliver the message that you are in violation of international conservation law and in violation of the laws of Australia.

It is my intent to deliver this message and then to request that you allow me to disembark from your vessel without harm or seizure.

I am empowered to act to uphold these laws in accordance with the United Nations World Charter for Nature and the laws of Australia.

I am boarding you with the request that you please refrain from any further criminal activity in these waters and cease and desist with the continued killing of endangered whales in this designated Whale Sanctuary in violation of the IWC global moratorium on commercial whaling and that you cease and desist in continued violations of Australian law by killing whales within the territorial waters of Australia without permit or permission from the government of Australia.

I am boarding you on the orders of Captain Paul Watson, who requests that you treat me with respect and in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

----------------------------------------------

With the refusal to return both men, an attempt was made to foul the propellor of the Yashin Maru No 2 and bottles of foul smelling butyric acid were thrown onboard. The ship has since fled from the Steve Irwin and is no longer in radar range. Captain Paul Watson has called the refusal to release his crew members as an act of terrorism and kidnapping.

Mr Minoru Morimoto, Director General of the Institute of Cetacean Research, said the men have not been harmed and were taken to a secure room. However photos, videos and reports from the Sea Shepherd helicopter show them being tied up on deck for a number of hours.

“Any accusations that we have tied them up or assaulted them are completely untrue,” Mr Morimoto said. “It is illegal to board another country’s vessels on the high seas. As a result, at this stage, they are being held in custody while decisions are made on their future.”

"In fact, they tried to throw Benjamin overboard and he had to struggle to stop being thrown overboard because the boat was travelling at 17 knots (30 kmh) and it would have been extremely dangerous. It's a serious situation. They have been kidnapped and held against their will." said Captain Paul Watson. “The activities of the Japanese whaling fleet are illegal under international conservation law. The Japanese are poachers and should be treated in the same manner as elephant or tiger poachers,” he said.

According to media reports the whalers said they will return the hostages in return for Sea Shepherd agreeing to no longer interfere with their whaling operations.

“The Institute of Cetacean Research is acting like a terrorist organization,” said Steve Irwin’s 1st Officer Peter Brown. “Here they are taking hostages and making demands. Our policy is that we don’t respond to terrorist demands.”

There has been no official approach to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society about handing back the anti-whaling activists.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has said it will not negotiate with poachers and demanded that the Japanese whalers release Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane as soon as possible.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has also appealed to the Japanese Government for the unconditional handing over of the activists to the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin. It was reported that Japan agreed to release Benjamin Potts, 28, of Sydney, and Giles Lane, 35, from Britain, after the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Australian embassy officials in Tokyo approached the Japanese Government.

But the captain of the Yashin Maru No 2, Yasuaki Sasaki, is refusing to release the men on the instructions of Hideki Moronuki, chief of the whaling section of The Fisheries Agency of Japan who said "Immediately that Paul Watson has accepted the conditions of the safety of the Japanese vessel, they will release the two illegal intruders,"

The claims of kidnapping and mistreatment during their detention on board the Yaqshin Maru No 2 will be investigated by the Australian Federal Police.

Whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary was found to be illegal under Australian law in a landmark decision of the Federal Court of Australia on January 15, 2008.

Sources:

Background

§Sea Shepherd activists detained
by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
080115_crew_hostages_2.jpg
Benjamin Potts and Giles Lane, two Sea Shepherd activists detained after trying to deliver a message to the Whaling ship Captain.
§Sea Shepherd Video: activists tied up
by Takver - Sydney Indymedia
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
Sea Shepherd activists boarding the Yashin Maru No 2 to deliver a letter to the Captain, and being detained and tied up on deck.
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