In UN speech, Hiroji Yamashiro calls out Japanese government human rights violations in Okinawa

In UN speech, Hiroji Yamashiro calls out Japanese government human rights violations in Okinawa

Okinawa Peace Movement Center Director Hiroji Yamashiro waiting to make his statement before the U.S. Human Rights Council shortly after 5 p.m. on June 15 (shortly after 12 a.m. on June 16 JST) in Geneva, Switzerland


June 16, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
Ryota Shimabukuro reports from Geneva

On the afternoon of June 15 (around midnight JST), Okinawa Peace Movement Center Director Hiroji Yamashiro gave a statement before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Yamashiro was arrested while engaging in protest against the construction of helipads in the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area in Okinawa and held in detention for five months before being released on bail. Mr. Yamashiro stated, “I was forced to confess and give up the protest activity. This is a clear human rights violation by the authorities.”

He then stated, “However, I and Okinawan people will never bow to oppression. I demand the government of Japan to stop human rights violations and respect the Okinawan people’s will against the [new military base construction].”

Mr. Yamashiro was invited to give a statement by the U.N. NGO International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination (IMADR). Yamashiro stated, “In the protest, I was arrested for a minor offense followed by two retroactive arrests. I was detained for five months. I was not allowed to see anyone except lawyers, not even my family.”

He additionally explained that “Citizens are protesting…the government of Japan dispatched large police forces in Okinawa to oppress and violently remove those people,” referring to the protests against the helipad construction.

Regarding Mr. Hiroji’s detainment, a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council by U.N. Special Rapporteur David Kaye on June 12 referred to the construction of a new base in Henoko, Nago and the construction of helipads in the Northern Training Area and indicated that “disproportionate penalties” were imposed.

Mr. Yamashiro also participated in a symposium held at the United Nations building in Geneva on June 16.

(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)

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