Activists and organizers are asking local groups and individuals to call, e-mail, visit and protest at Japanese embassies over the unjust arrests, detentions, deportations, and repression occurring around counter-G8 mobilization in Japan.
Japanese police continue to escalate repression against protesters of the Group of 8 Summit. This is part of a growing trend of the suppression of human rights in Japan. Yesterday’s demonstration of approximately five thousand was lined with, and sometimes boxed in by, several thousand police in full riot gear. At least four people – including a Reuters reporter – were arrested.
In one arrest, the police shattered the window of a sound truck and dragged out the driver. Hours after the demonstration ended the legal team had already received numerous reports of police misconduct.
This latest action comes after weeks of repressive activity on behalf of the police and government. Activists throughout Japan have been arrested at demonstrations and in their homes, often on “technical” charges, such as not registering a change of address. Overt surveillance of activists, academics and reporters has been taking place for months, and with some local activists for years. International conference participants and protesters have been interrogated for hours at the border and many have been denied entry into the country without warrant. The legal team sees this as a violation of people’s right to freely exchange ideas.
“What we have witnessed in the streets of Sapporo is part of an ongoing and escalating campaign to suppress the movement for real democracy in Japan,” said Marina Sitrin, professor and member of the National Lawyers Guild, a US based human rights organization that is a part of the No! G8 Legal Team.
“We were surprised by the excessive force used by police in today’s demonstration,” said Ko Watari, of WATCH, a Japanese legal network created to document police and government misconduct during the anti G8 protests. “This was a non-violent demonstration where no acts against property or people took place, or even appeared likely to take place.” The arrested Reuter’s cameraman was standing on a public sidewalk when seized by plainclothes police; his video camera was confiscated and has not been returned. The arrest of the sound truck driver followed immediately thereafter. Footage of the driver’s arrest shows him screaming in pain as the police pulled him out of the truck, his foot stuck in the steering wheel.
Protesters are organizing various events in the upcoming days of the G8 Summit, between the 7th and 9th of July. The No! G8 Legal Team will be paying close attention to the behavior of the police and government. “Labor and peace movement leaders are concerned that the police will arrest them for organizing these protests, search their homes and interrogate their family members,” said Dan Spalding, Legal Worker Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild.
Japanese law permits police to hold and interrogate suspects in the police station for 23 days without formal charges. They can interrogate suspects for up to 12 hours at a time. While detained arrestees can be forced to sit on their knees the entire time they are awake, not being able to move, even to use the bathroom without asking permission. This permission is not always granted.
“We take all arrests very seriously, and the specifics of the procedure, such as the 23 day detainment in the police station, the absence of lawyers to oversee the conditions of process, the physical violence involved in the interrogations, not being allowed medication, the fear of putting friends, family, and affiliations at risk are only a part of the damage. Its also about the anger and sense of shame which stays and creates more damage. It’s the humiliation of not being able to take care of your own.” Commented Gen, a participant in the counter G8 protests.
He continued: “I am personally grateful for the presence of activists from throughout the world. The spirit and experiences, levels of militancy they bring, for just being here in solidarity. Overall it has been a very energizing experience, and we are in high spirits. I am grateful for your continued presence and support. It is what authorities have tried to prevent through repressive measures. International solidarity and pressure at this moment will bring us to another level.”
International pressure can help prevent more people being arrested.
From the No! G8 Legal Team July 6, 2008
* Arrestees are still in jail and face years in prison
* Local organizers may face arrests
* Arrestees and organizers friends and families are facing harassment and possible house raids by police
* Link to footage of brutal arrest of sound truck driver: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frfl_qdi2Y8
* Link to footage of Reuters reporter arrest, the truck driver and some of the demonstration: http://blip.tv/file/1052811/
Mary Brookes +81 80-3206-5959
Sabu Kohso +81 80-2109-6441
WATCH lawyers network +81 80-3410-2780 (Makoto Teranaka)
See embassies list: http://www.gipfelsoli.org/Repression/5318.html
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