Elisabeth Torres, Global Animal
On December 16, Sea Shepherd volunteer Erwin Vermeulen was arrested in Taiji, Japan for “pushing” a Japanese hotel employee. The Dolphin Resort Hotel employee was supposed to be keeping people away from the area because the hotel was transporting dolphins from cages in the ocean into the hotel. The employee claims Vermeulen shoved him in the chest while taking pictures of dolphins. Vermeulen says he didn’t have to push anyone to get better pictures, because he simply walked right past the employee who was busy talking on his cell phone. DNA evidence conducted during the trial proved Vermeulen had no physical contact with the employee. Yet Erwin Vermeulen has spent 56 days in Japanese prison, and continues to be held.
Vermeulen spent his first month in prison at the Shingu jail near Taiji, where he was fed almost nothing except white rice for his entire stay. Vermeulen is a vegan and prison officials refused to feed him anything but the fish he was there to protect. He is now being kept at Wakayama prison where the conditions are only slightly better. He is kept in solitary confinement, given thirty minutes each day to spend outdoors, and a bucket of hot water to dump over him as a shower twice a week. The Vermeulen family is disappointed in the Dutch government’s inability to help get their son out of prison and with their lack of action against the atrocities being committed in Taiji. Mr. Vermeulen explained that his son Erwin, who is an engineer by trade, felt compelled to help the Sea Shepherds after watching The Cove, and was simply volunteering as a Cove Guardian.
According to Sea Shepherd, since Vermeulen has been detained, 340 dolphins have been murdered in the Cove and 28 captured to be kept in captivity. Vermeulen hopes the attention his imprisonment is receiving will help draw attention to the fact that the annual Taiji dolphin slaughter continues despite international outcry.
Closing arguments for Vermeulen’s trial are scheduled for February 16. As a Cove Guardian, Vermeulen is standing up for an important yet hushed issue. The slaughter of dolphins in this area is an atrocity that has happened for far too long and must be addressed by Japan and international governments. To help get Vermeulen out of prison please click the Take Action button.