I am the Batman (lavajin) wrote in animal_write,
I am the Batman

Filmmakers Attacked By Seal Hunters
Some of you may or may not know that about a month ago Seal-Alert South Africa had the amazing opportunity to buy out the entire Namibian Seal Hunt (for $14 million). I'm not 100% sure what's going on with it - I've pledged some money but am not sure where things stand at the moment. Noticeably absent, according to Francois Hugo's reports, were pledges from HSUS, IFAW, PeTA and other groups with huge base numbers. As he pointed out, HSUS has 11 million members - if everyone had pledged one stinky little dollar then they would have been sooooo close to completing the buyout.

And to be truthful, I have to express a great deal of negative surprise at the lack of interest this buyout deal has received from AR groups and activists alike. Come on, I mean, imagine if we can shut down one industry! How amazing would that be?

I don't know the ins and outs of Namibian seal hunting, but apparently it's more vicious than what happens in Canada.

I received this alert this morning:

Seal Alert-SA, Media Release, 16 July 2009
Namibian Sealers turn Clubs on undercover Film-makers

Details are sketchy. In Namibia near or around Cape Cross Seal Colony today at
7am, Namibian seal pup clubbers, were filmed killing seal pups. For which they
have no permit to harvest. Namibian seal clubbers then assaulted the film-crew. A
South African well known film-maker Bart Smithers and a Jim Wickens of Eco-storm, a
British citizen. They were beaten up by the sealers, and then arrested and put in
police custody in a vehicle. It has been further reported sealers then club into
the Police vehicle and further beat up the film-makers. Both are now being held at
the Police Station in Henties Bay.

The British High Commission in Namibia has been contacted. The release of the men has been called for. A British investigative journalist and his South African fixer have today been violently assaulted by seal hunters and arrested by police whilst documenting the controversial Namibian seal cull.

Jim Wickens, a reporter with the Brighton-based Ecostorm agency, and Bart Smithers, a freelance cameraman and fixer, were this morning attacked by a group of seal hunters armed with clubs before having their video camera equipment stolen in the Cape Cross Seal Reserve, Western Namibia.

The team, working with Dutch NGO Bontvoordieren,are understood to have been filming the killing of seals for some twenty minutes before a group of hunters approached and assaulted them - reportedly punching them to the ground and hitting them with clubs.

Their cameras and video footage were also seized in the incident, which happened about 7am this morning.

Police subsequently arrived before arresting the pair on suspicion of trespass and obstruction.

According to Jim Wickens, a seal hunter again attacked them whilst they were being held in a
police vehicle.

They pair are currently being held at a local police station.

Andrew Wasley, co-director of Ecostorm, said: "We are at present working with the British High Commission in Namibia to establish the full picture and secure the release of our team. Clearly this was a violent and unwarranted attack on two journalists doing their job - gathering information and pictures of the highly secretive Namibian seal hunt."

He continued: "As well as calling for the immediate release of Jim Wickens and Bart Smithers we want the Namibian authorities to investigate the assaults and theft of equipment"

Bontvoordieren - and a growing number of international campaigners - are calling for the
immediate release of the pair from police custody.



Andrew Wasley (Ecostorm) +44 (0)7977 239406

Claudia Linssen (Bontvoordieren) +31 206766600


For the Seals
Francois Hugo Seal Alert-SA
27-21-790 8774

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