Amplifies awareness of Taiji dolphin killing
TOKYO, Japan––“Be careful what you wish for,” someone might have reminded the government of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
Seeking to silence global criticism of dolphin slaughters and captures for exhibition, at the height of the 2015-2016 Taiji dolphin hunting season, the Japanese government has held dolphin defender Ric O’Barry almost incommunicado at the Narita airport since January 18, 2016.
This has helped to amplify world awareness of the Taiji killing to heights not seen since 2010, when the 2009 documentary The Cove, starring O’Barry, swept top honors at a series of international film festivals, culminating in an Academy Award for director Louis Psihoyos.
Depicting O’Barry and other opponents of the dolphin massacres as “terrorists,” despite O’Barry’s 45-year record of nonviolent protest with only occasional use of civil disobedience, the Japanese government has also found itself under increasingly aggressive attack from the online “hacktivist” network Anonymous.
Reportedly formed in 2003, Anonymous has also remained nonviolent in the strictest sense of the word, but the Anonymous modus operandi of covert disruption of electronic communications distinctly differs from classic civil disobedience, in which the protester(s) openly break laws and accept the consequences to make their point.
Under the legal definitions of “terrorism” in effect in many nations, including the U.S. and Japan, the Anonymous members can be construed as terrorists––and are almost certainly a much bigger headache for the Japanese government than O’Barry, 76, would have been had he been allowed to rejoin the small group of volunteers who have kept the Taiji cove under observation throughout the most recent six dolphin hunting seasons.
O’Barry arrived in Japan for the 2015-2016 dolphin hunting season on August 31, 2015, but was almost immediately arrested in the town of Nachikatsuura, near Taiji, for allegedly violating the Immigration Control Law for not carrying his passport.
After prolonged and allegedly torturous interrogation, in apparent violation of international standards of justice, O’Barry spent several weeks in Taiji with the volunteer observers, then left Japan to lead a series of demonstrations in other nations.
Returning to Japan, “O’Barry was repeatedly interrogated and placed in a deportees’ facility, similar to a jail, where he has been held behind bars ever since,” according to the Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project web site, maintained by his wife Helene Hesselager O’Barry.
Food from 7-11
“He has not received proper nourishment, his only food coming from the airport’s 7 Eleven convenience store, and sleep has been minimal at best,” the report continued.
The Japanese government initially tried to force O’Barry to leave Japan again “voluntarily.”
“O’Barry has been questioned by Japanese immigration before, but this is the first time he has been detained and barred from entry,” Associated Press reported. “The immigration officials questioning O’Barry are arguing they can’t believe him because he has lied to them before, such as saying he wouldn’t go to a Tokyo event called Japan Dolphins Day in August last year, but ending up going.”
Said O’Barry in a prepared statement released by his son Lincoln, “I’m incarcerated on trumped-up charges, just like last August.
“I have broken no laws,” O’Barry continued. “I’m a political prisoner. I feel I am being used as a figurehead representing all Western activists.”
Added O’Barry in a telephone interview with the Reuters international news agency, “I think there are higher-ups in government who are cracking down on those who speak out against their war on dolphins.”
Within the first week that O’Barry was detained at the Narita airport, more than 90,000 people signed a Care 2 petition on his behalf.
Meanwhile, reported Japan Times on January 23, 2016, “Cyberattacks disrupted access to the official website of Narita airport from Friday (January 21, 2016) to Saturday (January 22, 2016), with the international hacker group Anonymous claiming responsibility, according to the airport’s operator. Narita International Airport Corp. said police confirmed the attacks were carried out by the group. The website appears to have been hit by attacks that involved large amounts of data being sent in a short period of time. No flight operations were affected.”
A Twitter message purportedly sent by Anonymous “protested Japan’s refusal to let activist Ric O’Barry, star of The Cove, the Oscar-winning documentary about the annual dolphin slaughter in the town of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, enter the country,” Japan Times added.
Hit near peak travel times
“The airport operator said the website became inaccessible at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday,” Japan Times added. “Although it was restored shortly past 1 a.m. on Saturday, accessing the site once again became difficult Saturday morning and evening.
Elaborated Techweek Europe, “Anonymous shut down Nissan’s global and Japanese websites earlier this month in protest against the Taiji cull. The group said it targeted Nissan during the Detroit Auto Show in order to raise awareness about the issue. Another dolphin-themed attack targeted Icelandic government organizations’ sites last November, disabling them for about 13 hours.”
Added Hackread, “In October 2015 the same Anonymous group shut down both the Narita and Chubu International Airport websites [in protest] against the slaughter of dolphins and trade to aquariums. In September 2015, the same group of hackers took down the Taiji town web site.”
As of January 26, 2016, the Taiji dolphin hunters had killed about 25% of their season’s quote of 1,871 dolphins, perhaps less anonymously than ever before.