July 9, 2008
The “7-5 Challenge the G8 Summit Peace Walk for 10,000” was held on July 5 in the city of Sapporo, and in sharp contrast with the peaceful demonstration itself, a markedly excessive and aggressive police presence constituted a flagrant violation of human rights. All along the walk’s route, plainclothes police security officers recorded and took pictures of demonstrators with cameras, and fully armed riot units stood in formation along both sides of the march to prevent average citizens from being able to view the demonstration.
Furthermore, in addition to pounding on a sound truck’s glass window with batons, police dragged the man sitting in the driver’s seat out of the vehicle and took him and a total of four individuals (one of whom is a reporter) to jail for interfering with official police duties or violating traffic laws.
The reporter was released on July 8, but on the same day the Prosecutor’s unjust request for the other three to be held in detention at the Sapporo Regional Court was approved.
The Constitution safeguards citizens’ rights to express opinions to others and others’ freedom to access or receive those opinions. Toward that end, demonstration marches serve as inextricable pillars that support our right to assemble in a constitutional democracy and therefore must be cared for and protected, and any restrictions must be limited to the absolute bare minimum. However, the aforementioned excessive policing and unjust arrests ran roughshod over our right to freedom of expression.
Therefore, we object to the arrests of the four individuals as significant violations of their constitutionally protected freedom of expression, we strongly denounce the specifics of the arrests themselves, and we object to the decision to detain the remaining three and call for their immediate release.
[Groups endorsing this statement:]
2008 Japan G8 Summit NGO Forum
Hokkaido Peoples’ Forum on G8 Summit
G8 Action Network
G8 Women’s Rights Forum