Alliance says New Zealand must take firm line on jailing of Peter Bethune

The Alliance Party says it is deeply disturbing that anti-whaling activist Peter Bethune could be jailed for up to 15 years in Japan.

Alliance Party fisheries and maritime spokesperson Trevor Hanson says it’s time for the New Zealand Government to tell Japanese authorities enough is enough.

“The whaling issue is not about to be resolved in the forthcoming world whaling conference and people of New Zealand are being quietly prepared by our National Government for a soft agreement which will allow the slaughter to continue at a lesser rate of kills.”

Mr Hanson says New Zealand has been part of all the meetings and agreements permitting the current abhorrent “scientific kill.”

He says “scientific kill” is an absolute misnomer.

“Twenty years have gone by with no reduction in the Japanese kill and the actions of New Zealand Governments during this time have all been to follow a path of diplomacy which has produced absolutely nothing.”

Mr Hanson says the Japanese Government simply don’t care and it is extremely unlikely that they will agree to any reduction in whale kill.

The New Zealand Government is too scared to take a firm line because of trade implications, he says.

“If the Government stand back and watch a New Zealand citizen jailed because of his actions against the Japanese whalers, actions supported by a majority of New Zealanders, then this Government will stand to be judged by not only New Zealanders but internationally.”

Arrest of whaling activist a major diplomatic incident

The Alliance Party says the arrest and trial of Peter Bethune by the Japanese is a major diplomatic incident for New Zealand.
Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray says it is outrageous that a New Zealand citizen has been arrested and will be tried in Japan as a result of the skirmish between anti whaling protestors Sea Shepherd and the Japanese whaling fleet in Antartic waters in mid February.
The incident occurred in a complex situation in which the legality of the actions of both sides could be questioned. The Japanese fleet allegedly committed serious acts of aggression against Mr Bethune’s Sea Shepherd vessel Ady Gil. The Ady Gil was so severely damaged that the vessel eventually sank.
Ms Murray says it is very unlikely that Mr Bethune will get a fair trial in Japan given the strong nationalist pro whaling sentiment in Japan and the Japanese government’s insistence on carrying out whaling in the Antartic in face of an international moratorium.
“Mr Bethune should be returned to New Zealand and whole incident reviewed by an independent body.”
The Alliance believes New Zealand should align themselves with the Australian government who have threatened to take Japan to the
international court unless they halt their annual whale hunt.
In the meantime New Zealand could exercise some leadership and deploy our naval vessels to the Southern Oceans while the Japanese whaling fleets are down there to prevent similar incidents of lawlessness. This is one of the most dangerous stretches of water in the world. Unchecked clashes in these waters will inevitably lead to serious loss of life.

Alliance condemns National Government's lack of action on whaling

The Alliance has condemned the Government’s wishy washy approach to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean.

Alliance Party fisheries spokesperson Trevor Hanson says Sea Shepherd and likeminded organisations are doing what 90% of New Zealanders want, using whatever means at their disposal to stop the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean.

He says the recent incident where a New Zealand registered vessel the Ady Gil was rammed and sunk is part of this process.

“No matter what the National Government claims say and no matter how many protests at international whaling forums nothing has changed. The Japanese Government arrogantly continues on its path claiming the right to ‘scientific’ whale kills.”

Mr Hanson says protestors who have put life and limb at risk to stop the obnoxious practise of killing whales are doing the only thing possible to bring this practise to an end.

He says while John Key has announced the possibility of an “international agreement” the only agreement New Zealanders want is a complete stop by the Japanese whalers.

“Any half measure agreement to which the New Zealand Government signs up to would be seen for what it is, authorizing further continuation of the current slaughter, contrary to the wishes of New Zealanders.”

Mr Hanson says statements by the Minister of Fisheries about the incident in which the New Zealand registered Ady Gil was damaged and later sunk, where he said an investigation by Maritime New Zealand and TAIC would be carried out, were diversions.

“We are well aware of the length of time these investigations by Maritime New Zealand and the TAIC will take. Meanwhile whale killing continues.”

Mr Hanson says all whaling in the Southern Ocean should cease.