O λόγος της Shona Lewendon κατά την επίσκεψη της στην Ελλάδα στις 3 Απριλίου 2013
First, let me just say that I am honored to be here in Greece, home of the Olympics & land of mythology, where dolphins play such a big part in Greek legend.
You may be wondering who I am and why I’m here. My name is Shona Lewendon. I live in a small town in Scotland, on the outskirts of Glasgow. I am a single mother of 3 boys aged 3, 6 & 13. Like so many other women today, I struggle daily with the demands of children, home life, and work. I also am aware and concerned about growing global threats to the future of our planet & the creatures on it.
Why am I here? I am not a professional environmental campaigner. I am not a politician. I am not a journalist. This is the first cause I have ever led. I have never done anything of this magnitude before, but my passion for this cause comes from my heart & the hearts of my boys.
I have always loved dolphins, and have always been amazed by whales-how can they be so big, yet live on krill, one of the tiniest food sources..? Year after year after year I have watched in horror, as reports through different media show how dolphins & whales are brutally hunted and captured by Japanese fishermen. For 7 months of every year entire generations, whole families, of dolphins and whales are wiped out nearly every day. Every year before the hunt season would start, I would hope & pray that this time the hunts would not start, but sadly, they always do. Surely someone could do something to make it stop. This cannot continue-how long will it be before there are none left to hunt in our oceans? This is not sustainable or environmentally friendly.
The Japanese whaling fleet is the ONLY fleet in the world that continues to hunt under the guise of research, in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary--a sanctuary where endangered species are meant to be safe, to recover from the toll of relentless hunting. Japan has never produced a single piece of verified research since the International Whaling Commission created the 50 million square mile sanctuary in 1994. Recently, Japan has admitted that they are NOT conducting research, but instead confessed that their hunt is part of their culture and tradition.
In early January this year, I had an idea, I was inspired, I call it my ‘light bulb’ moment. I was watching the evening news and I saw a report that Madrid, Istanbul & Tokyo had made it to the final stages for the Host City bids, to host the 2020 Olympic Games; I immediately saw a connection with Japan's hunts.
After doing some research online, I discovered that Japan has bid for the Summer Olympics 5 times since they were hosts in 1964, and this is their 3rd bid since 2008. Japan is very eager to host the Olympics again, not only for the honor and prestige, but also for the boost to their economy.
It occurred to me that if Japan wants the honor of being the world stage hosting the Olympic Games, then surely, as a contender for host nation, they couldn’t continue with these globally condemned hunts? Surely the International Olympic Committee would not allow this annual slaughter to continue if Japan is to be considered as a host nation?
More extensive research followed. I spent hours upon hours reading the Olympic Charter & the Sustainability through Sport Report– implementing Agenda 21. Agenda 21 (21 referring to the 21st century) is an action plan or blueprint specific to the environment & the future of our planet. It was created with the United Nations Environment Programme following on from the 1992 Earth Summit. The IOC & the Olympic Movement have committed to ensure that this agreement is implemented fully within the Olympic organization, and within countries hosting the Olympics.
At the very beginning of this document, in the forewords, Jacques Rogge, the President of the IOC, states “Together with its partners, the IOC is committed to promoting sustainable development and respect for the environment in and through sport.” This sentence alone tells me that a nation who carries out the barbaric unsustainable hunts, as witnessed by my friend Trevor, is not a nation adhering to the principles of the Olympics or indeed Agenda 21. According to the report, friendship, respect and excellence are hallmarks of the Olympic commitment. The report specifically states, (p.14) “Respect applies equally to people as well as the environment and its natural systems.” At present, we don’t believe Japan abides by these Olympic principles.
After speaking to many people online, on Facebook & Twitter, I searched for any organizations or groups that were actively linking the Tokyo 2020 bid to the dolphin slaughter. I couldn’t find any. I was either ignored or I was told that the Olympics had nothing to do with the dolphins; I was told that I couldn’t consider challenging their bid, as it would be considered racist. Well, Agenda 21 tells me that the Olympics have everything to do with the dolphin hunts--if Japan intends to host the 2020 games.
I am very much aware that many of the citizens of Japan are unaware of the dolphin hunts & more importantly that they are unaware that dolphin meat available in most supermarkets in Japan is extremely toxic with Mercury, methyl mercury & PCB’s, making it unfit for human consumption. Dolphins are at the top of the food chain, meaning that they have a higher concentration of contaminants in their flesh. Japanese consumers need to be informed of these serious health risks.
On January 15th I realized that I was a person who had to become a ‘someone’ and try to do something about this. While many people agreed with me that a host nation surely could not allow these hunts to continue, no one was willing to make a stand & challenge this...so I created my online petition, which is addressed to Jacques Rogge & the IOC, asking them to challenge the government of Japan on the dolphin & whale hunts, before they consider Tokyo’s 2020 bid.
In the first 5 days it got 10,000 signatures. At one point it was signed by someone somewhere in the world every 10 seconds! It now has about 310,000 signatures & it is still growing. When I saw how popular my petition was becoming, I decided to organize a demonstration outside the Japanese Embassy in Edinburgh. I shared it on Facebook & very quickly people wanted to travel from all over the UK to attend, so I decided to invite people to participate in demonstrations all over the world in their own countries. And so our new organization Olympic Dolphins was born.
On February 22nd (just before the IOC arrived in Tokyo for their inspection) we had over 40 successful demonstrations in 21 countries outside Japanese Embassies. I am continually amazed and humbled by the support that my petition & our events have received.
I have written to Sir Craig Reedie, Vice President of the IOC, as well as to the IOC directly several times explaining our cause and concerns about the hunts and captures. Their response has been disappointing; they have told me that the Olympics are merely a sporting organization & addressing these hunts is not within their remit.
If you take the time to read the Agenda 21 document, you will see many paragraphs that say this IS within the remit of the IOC, and in fact, potential host nations should already be compliant with Agenda 21.
The goal of our campaign is to raise awareness about the whale & dolphin hunts and captures and to ensure that the IOC abides by their own rules before they announce the winning bid on September the 7th. If Tokyo is the successful bidder and Japan goes on to host the Olympic 2020 Summer Games, without addressing the hunts first, Japan will see that as an endorsement from the IOC & the global community. Japan will in essence have permission to continue to hunt these beautiful creatures, our marine cousins, to extinction-in the name of 'tradition' & greed. Dolphins and whales are an important part of the earth’s ecosystem. We cannot allow this to happen.
You may notice I use the term ‘capture’ also when speaking about the hunts. One byproduct of the hunts is live captured dolphins. During the drives, often starting in international waters, while most of the pod members are slaughtered, some young attractive dolphins, those having no physical imperfections, may be captured instead of killed. These are sold to dolphariums around the world for large amounts of money. Increasingly the main motive for these hunts is the live captures; live dolphins are much more profitable that those slaughtered for meat. We cannot allow a potential host nation to be the world’s main exporter of live dolphins, stolen from the wild, then sold for many thousands of dollars--simply to supply and maintain the growing captive marine animal industry, which has absolutely nothing to do with dolphin conservation and everything to do with profit. As Trevor explained, this amounts to nothing more than cruelty & abuse disguised as entertainment. The only way to be educated about whales & dolphins is to observe them swimming free in their own habitat, on their own terms, not by buying a ticket to see them preforming unnatural circus tricks in a concrete tank, which is essentially a prison for their dramatically shortened lives.
We are living in a world where animals are often seen as nothing more than a commodity, something to make a profit from at any cost. Growing up in South Africa gave me a passion for the well-being of all animals. We are here today to talk about dolphins & whales in Japan, but in every corner of the world, even here in Greece, animals are suffering in the name of human greed. In Africa--right now, poachers are driving elephants & lions to extinction. At this rate, within a decade, we are facing the reality of there being NO wild Elephants left in Africa. If slaughter houses across the world had CCTV, you would see what animals endure, in the name of human profit. Natural habitats are being lost to demand for more resources, there are more endangered species than ever before.. sadly the list goes on & on.
The success of our campaign will have little effect on the citizens of Japan. I am a UK citizen; we hosted the 2012 Games. Apart from a temporary ‘feel good factor’ & a temporary boost to our ‘national pride,’ I see no real change or benefit to average citizens. I am sure many big corporate companies will disagree.
There are currently many Japanese national issues that are incredibly difficult to fix, given the devastation caused by the 2011 tsunami & the ongoing nuclear disaster of Fukushima, radiation is being found in Tokyo and beyond. These problems alone may potentially hinder the success of Japan’s Olympic bid. By making Japan’s dolphin and whale hunts illegal, and changing the laws to do so, is a quick and easy fix that may possibly strengthen Japan’s bid. We are talking about a very small minority, about 26 fishermen & a few government officials involved in the dolphin hunts. Many alternatives to the slaughter & capture business have been offered to replace the hunts, but they have been refused-reasons being cited that the hunts are a birth right, and it’s the fishermen’s tradition to hunt whales & dolphins. Pride will not allow them to admit that it is now time for change.
The IOC will uphold its commitment to the Olympic Charter & Agenda 21 if it listens to international opinion and challenges the Japanese government to end the dolphin and whale hunts. This is a unique opportunity to make real changes concerning the real conservation of whales & dolphins. If the IOC addresses the government of Japan, who are at present very keen to impress, they will have to listen and acknowledge that the WORLD is against these obsolete, barbaric hunts.
Ordinary people like you & me CAN do something--raise our voices, and raise awareness, challenge these hunts & Tokyo’s Olympic bid. Less than 200 years ago SLAVERY was tradition. In 1833 slavery was abolished. Just because something is a tradition doesn't make it right or acceptable.
Ignorance is no longer an excuse--it is time to stand up for our planet & the creatures that we share it with. We owe it to our children.
Thank you for your time.
|Shona Lewendon with Trevor Lawrence|