Erwin Vermeulen, a Dutch national and cove guardian for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been arrested in Taiji, Japan.
After a bloody week in Taiji's cove which witnessed several dolphin slaughters and captures, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) is reporting that Japanese police have arrested and detained Erwin Vermeulen, a citizen of the Netherlands and one of several cove guardians representing SSCS in Taiji.
The arrest came after a Dolphin Resort Hotel employee in Taiji accused Vermeulen of shoving him. The Dutch cove guardian SSCS says, was merely attempting to take pictures of a dolphin transfer, not an uncommon sight in the tiny coastal town, where the resort regularly purchases dolphins directly from the Taiji Fishermen's Union. The Union is the local agency that conducts and oversees the capture of dolphins migrating through Japanese waters for sale or slaughter.
According to Sea Shepherd's press release, there were no witnesses to the shoving incident and no questions asked by the Japanese police, Vermeulen was quietly handcuffed and hauled away. The guardian was transported to the Shingu police station in the Wakayama Prefecture on Thursday night, where he is still being held.
Sea Shepherd believes that the arrest of Vermeulen was staged and blamed rising tensions in Taiji between activists and fishermen. This is the second year that cove guardians have been in Taiji and they always operate within the Japanese law say SSCS. A successful campaign means, "Not handing the authorities any excuse to expel the Cove Guardians," they add.
The arrest of Vermeulen has also sparked claims from Sea Shepherd about a double standard in Japan. The organization refers to an earlier incident this year when cove guardian Rosie Kunneke, was assaulted by a Taiji fisherman. The man was questioned and released they say, yet Vermeulen "Has been denied a lawyer and visitation rights, even from the Dutch Embassy."
Fellow activists in Japan with Vermeulen are reporting that they have been denied access to their colleague and the Shingu police are refusing to answer any questions. Under Japanese law, Vermeulen, who funded his own trip to Taiji, can be held for 23 days before being allowed to speak with a lawyer.