Sealers wielding clubs for the purpose of killing seals attacked two journalists, one from the UK and one from South Africa, who were filming the brutal Namibian seal cull last week.
The journalists were then arrested and jailed at the Henties Bay Police Station in Namibia, and their camera and video was confiscated by authorities. The British and South Africa Embassies are demanding their immediate release.
The two journalists are Ben Smithers of South Africa and Jim Wickens of the United Kingdom. They were in the process of filming the controversial hunt in the Cape Cross Seal Reserve in Western Namibia when they were assaulted. The film was meant to be a collaborative project with Eco-Storm and Dutch NGO Bontvoordieren, showcasing the brutal and cruel practices that take place during the seal slaughter.
The seals are killed annually for their meat, oil and skins. Russia and China are the leading markets in the world for seal products, which include garments and accessories, though buyers are commonly found throughout the UK, North America and all over the EU.
Some sealers have been witnessed skinning seals alive when they’re unlucky enough to survive being brutally clubbed.
An activist and personal friend of the jailed journalists, Peter Hammarstedt, has issued the following statement: “In a time when the European Union has just banned the import of all seal products, Namibia refuses to join civilized society by continuing the senseless slaughter of seals and by clubbing to death any semblance of freedom of the press or freedom of speech. Bart and Jim are political prisoners and need to be released immediately.”
Leading activist organizations like the Sea Shepard Conservation Society are urging people to please write to the Namibian embassy in your country demanding the release of the journalists.
Source: Sea Shepard News
Image Credit: Sara&Joachim on Flickr under a CC License