[Statement] Repression and Bloody Police Violence: A Statement on the 8.24 Protest Against the Paralympics

Shortly after 7 p.m. on August 24th, protester “A” was detained by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police en route to a rally against the Paralympic Games slated to begin that same evening. The police arrived in an excessively large number, then proceeded to attack and arrest “A”. In addition, another protester nearby was violently thrown to the ground by the police, hitting the back of their head against the ground, resulting in a bloody injury. The police attempted to silence and punish the voices of protesters rallying against the Paralympic Games by utilizing excessive force – it is clearly a crackdown on the anti-Olympic and Paralympic movement in its entirety.

We, alongside our many friends home and abroad, condemn this unjust arrest and repression, and are determined to bring “A” home immediately.

How It Unfolded: This protest was called to gather in front of the JOC (Japan Olympic Committee) building adjacent to the National Stadium, the venue for the opening ceremony for the Paralympic Games.

The police, who were there to restrict the roadway traffic, took an unusual turn and began interfering with pedestrians on the sidewalk. Two police command vans were parked by the nearest train station, where a swarm of police officers stopped passersby who were headed toward the Stadium, interrogating them one by one about where they were headed to and what they were trying to do, while some overtly followed them.

The police put additional fences blocking the sidewalk in front of the Aoyama High School and the Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium near the National Stadium. Many police officers stood by in a formation, showing their force.

As people crossed the blocked crosswalk, the policemen violently pushed pedestrians onto the sidewalk, yelling at them to keep going, creating a chaotic situation. In response to this bizarre security precaution, people began demanding the police to stop their brutal conducts. Then several police officers suddenly attacked “A”, pushing them away from other protesters, and shoved “A” into the police vehicle. Another protester was thrown to the ground, hitting the back of their head and causing a bloody injury while a big group of police officers jostled the protesters.

Meanwhile, the police began aggressively shoving protesters into the fenced sidewalk, bumping on them, even grabbing onto their belongings.  “Look out! Watch out!”  “Don’t push!” “Don’t push, sister! It’s dangerous!”  While the police were muttering these empty phrases, we witnessed them manipulate, abuse and harass protest participants.

Even though the person with the head injury repeatedly asked the police to leave them alone, the officers kept approaching and surrounding the person aggressively. The police even ended up calling an ambulance despite the injured person’s refusal. The paramedics, upon learning that the injury was caused by the police and the injured person clearly did not want to be taken to the hospital, decided to turn around. This action by the police just to save their face added unnecessary labor onto the paramedics who are already spread thin amidst the record number of COVID-19 cases. 

In the face of this horrible opening of the Paralympic Games – full of deceptions, violence, and contempt for life – the protesters demanded furiously: “Stop the police violence!” “Give us back our friend!” “The Paralympics is a festival of violence!” 

The protesters then went to the Akasaka Police Station where “A” was held, in order to demand the police to release our friend and stop shoving us around. The protesters continued the calls until midnight.
Earlier during the opening ceremony, just 30 minutes following the arrest of “A”, the police made a press announcement that they had arrested a protester. Media outlets broadcast the news straight out of the police report including incorrect information. We condemn this brutality – this is a malicious arrest to criminalize and make an example out of the people who oppose the Olympics and Paralympics.

Our anger will not subside.

The Akasaka Police must free “A” immediately! We will not tolerate police violence!
The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games must immediately cancel the Paralympic Games, which are decorated with deceptions and violence!   Abolish the Olympic and Paralympic Games!   We will bring back “A” as soon as possible.  
August 27, 2021
8.24 Paralympic Repression Relief Group
Han Gorin no Kai