Update on Imprisoned Cove Guardian Erwin Vermeulen February 8, 2012
February 8, 2012- Cove Guardian Campaign Leader, Scott West and two other volunteers were able to visit Erwin on Monday, February 6th. They were allowed a 15-minute visit-through glass-with a Japanese guard taking detailed notes. The guard sat to Erwin’s left wearing a white mask over his face. Despite looking gaunt, Erwin seemed in good spirits. The visitors were able to share brief messages from family and loved ones, as well as from Dutch film star Rutger Hauer. They told Erwin of the international candlelight vigils held in his honor. He was very surprised and grateful for all the support and for the attention his detainment was bringing to the horrific dolphin slaughter in Taiji. Erwin had been keeping a daily diary of his thoughts and experiences while detained, but these notes were confiscated. He said he would write more if he thought it would not be taken from him. Erwin again asked for news of the current Sea Shepherd campaigns and inquired as to whether he would be allowed to return to Taiji.
He is kept in a solitary environment and is given hot water to dump over himself twice a week; these are his only showers. The food at Wakayama is only slightly better than his diet in Shingu. It seemed to be quite important to the prison guard to have it known that they were going out of their way to provide vegan food to Erwin. It appears they are now concerned about how this is affecting their image. Erwin is allowed to leave his cell once a day for 30 minutes to go outside. He expressed hope that his time in jail will serve as motivation for others to become involved in ending the dolphin slaughter in Taiji.
On the same day, in the Netherlands, Erwin’s family, along with Sea Shepherd Netherlands representatives Laurens de Groot and Geert Vons, met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The group conveyed their disappointment at the Dutch government’s inability to help with Erwin’s imprisonment. Erwin’s family expressed their frustration at not being allowed to speak to Erwin by telephone. They also made it clear that they expect the Minister to show more compassion and action towards Erwin’s plight.
Later that evening the group attended a meeting of the Dutch Parliament where Mr. Vermeulen gave a presentation. He updated the parliament on Erwin’s status and Sea Shepherd Netherlands Director, Geert Vons (who attended the first two sessions of Erwin’s trial) recounted the events of the trial. Afterwards, the Dutch Parliament was shown the Academy-Award winning documentary The Cove, which brought the horrors of the Taiji dolphin slaughter to the eyes of the world.
Mr. Vermeulen told Parliament how watching The Cove had prompted Erwin to become a volunteer with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. He shared that Erwin is an engineer by trade and is employed by a Dutch cruise company that organizes nature tours in the North and South Pole regions. Erwin was using his vacation time to participate in the Cove Guardian campaign and has also volunteered as chief engineer during a previous anti-whaling campaign in the Antarctic. Erwin’s father also shared his son’s passion for helping victims of illegal dog fights become socialized and adopted into loving homes.
In closing, Mr. Vermeulen urged Parliament to mobilize other countries to take action against the atrocities being committed in Taiji. He stated that it is the responsibility of the global community to pressure Japan to stop this massacre.
In the 55 days Erwin has been confined, approximately 340 dolphins have been brutally murdered in the Cove with 28 others having been captured for a life of imprisonment in theme parks. It must be noted that this time period includes 13 days, which the dolphin killers take off for an end of year holiday. Closing arguments for Erwin’s trial are scheduled for February 16th.