Free Hiroji Yamashiro
Free Hiroji Yamashiro and other leaders of people protesting against US military base in Okinawa
The people in Takae, Okinawa, have been participating in non-violent and peaceful protests against the U.S. military bases, to secure their rights to live ordinary lives, to protect nature and promote peace. People follow the rules of non-violent, voluntary protests, with love and humour when participating in sit-ins. Even when they are forcibly moved by the police or are even injured by the police, the protesters have never inflicted harm on any of the anti-riot police.
However, Mr Hiroji Yamashiro, the leader of the anti-base group, was wrongfully arrested and has been imprisoned long-term, while the police come up with new reasons for arresting him. The most recent reasoning given by the police was to arrest him for piling bricks in front of the Camp Schwab gates in Henoko, which blocked traffic from January 28th to 30th, which is now almost eleven months ago. The question then becomes, why now? At the time, the police did not do anything or press charges even though they witnessed the protest as it was happening.
It seems that the police arrested him to decrease the power of the people and spread negative images of the peaceful protest. We call for immediate release of Mr. Hiroji Yamashiro. Please sign the petition!!
Petition launched by Satoshi Kamata, Hisae Sawachi, Makoto Sataka, Keiko Ochiai, and Mieko Osanai
To Naha District Court, To Naha District Public Prosecutors’ Office
Petition for immediate release of Hiroji Yamashiro, and other activists
We are deeply concerned with the government's oppression of protesters who are against the construction of the new base in Henoko, Okinawa, the Osprey pads in Takae, and demand the immediate release of Hiroji Yamashiro as well as other activists who were arrested and detained.
Many Okinawan citizens are opposed to building new US bases in Henoko and the Osprey Pad in Takae. As citizens wish to reduce the burden of hosting U.S.bases, they fear that creating a new base will only amplify the burden. They wish to preserve the nature around them by participating in this nonviolent sit in.
Under these circumstances, Mr. Hiroji Yamashiro, the chairman of the Okinawa Peace Movement Center - the organization that continues these anti-base movements - was wrongfully arrested. The charges have been changed several times and he has been detained for a long time. As of December 25, 2016, he has been detained for almost 70 days. He was arrested on October 17th for cutting the barbed wire placed in the forest around the planned construction site of the helipad. On the 20th, despite the detention request by the police, the Naha Summary Court denied it.
However, the police arrested him again on the same day the Summary Court dismissed the request on the grounds of disturbing the execution of the public system.
On November 11th, Mr. Yamashiro was charged with obstructing the execution of the public system. However, the day after, the Ryukyu Newspaper wrote that in order to prevent the citizens from getting very heated, and moving individually, Yamashiro repeatedly called out to not attack the anti-riot police. Additionally, from April 2015, Mr. Yamashiro was unable to join anti-base protests at Camp Schwab due to illness. An acquaintance of the local police commented that Mr. Yamashiro was an important character in anchoring the protesters and could control those who had a tendency toward violent protests. If there have been some members of the police who have suffered injuries, it is wrong to place the responsibility on Mr. Yamashiro.
Hiroji Yamashiro was arrested again for piling bricks in front of the gate of Camp Schwab, Henoko, which blocked traffic from January 28th through 30th. The question then becomes, why now? At the time, the police did not press any charges or say anything although they witnessed the action.
Hiroji and other activists are arrested and detained because the government wants to continue with the constructions of the Osprey pads and the new base, and conversely, to crush the people’s movement. Peaceful, non-violent protests by Okinawans should not be oppressed by the authority.
We demand the immediate release of detained activists including Hiroji Yamashiro and others who are under unjustifiable and inhumane conditions. There is no justified reason to keep them in detention. A couple of the other prJapaneseotesters who were detained with him have been released without charges. It is obvious that there is no risk of evidence being destroyed or the detained prisoners running away. There is no lawful reason to keep the protesters detained.
We also fear the health of Hiroji, who is suffering from a serious illness and needs regular medical check ups. Even now, his white blood cell count is low, and should be getting medical treatment from the hospital. People who have gone to his detention reasoning disclosure trial have raised concerns for his health and well-being. However, he is restricted from seeing his supporters and is only allowed to see his lawyers. Not only is he being detained unlawfully, it is detrimental to his health and could have lasting consequences for his life. We demand that he be released as soon as possible.
1. Release the anti-base activists including Hiroji Yamashiro, who have been detained for a long time
2. Lift the ban that restricts people from visiting Hiroji Yamashiro
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