A day-laborer organizer in Tokyo has been held in solitary confinement, for almost four months, by police for a broken window.
(this article is an updated and expanded version of a communique from NoVox released in late April, which can be seen at http://www.no-vox.org/spip.php?article286&lang=fr.)
On February 9, 2012, during a peaceful demonstration in front of the Tokyo City Hall in defense of the rights of the homeless who have been living for more than 20 years in the Tatekawa River Park, Sono Ryota was arrested and incarcerated in the Tokyo detention center. As of May 31st, he has not been released, and was denied bail on May 25th.
For several years, Sono has been a spokesperson for social movements in Japan struggling for the right to live. He has participated particularly in struggles against the evacuation of the homeless, young workers in precarious jobs and, since Fukushima, against the nuclear industry. He was arrested in September 2011 during an anti-racist demonstration in Tokyo and was released 23 days later thanks an international petition signed by 7000 people. He was arrested again at an action on February 12th of 2012 and charged with property destruction and 'forcible obstruction of business.' Today he is incarcerated and isolated in solitary confinement in a so-called "protective" cell, in inhuman conditions, awaiting trial. Currently, only his lawyers are allowed to visit him in jail.
The No-Vox network in connection with the Japanese Sono Ryota support committee call for a major international campaign in favour of his immediate liberation and the dropping of all charges.
In the name of international solidarity, for Human and Fundamental Rights, and for freedom of expression, we demand the liberation of Sono Ryona.
For more information about the struggle at the Tatekawa tent village, see:
There is also an online petition, available at:
For more information on San'ya and other day laborers' struggles in Japan on libcom, see:
Text of the original petition from Tatekawa Tent Village follows below.
The suppression of the right to protest by a collusive alliance between the local government and the police:
There are a number of homeless people living in Tatekawa River Bed Park in Tokyo’s Koto Ward. They have had friendly relations with local residents for a number of years. However, for the past several months, the local government has been forcibly removing homeless people from the park with the support of the police and a private security firm. It has been said that this is for the sake of the redevelopment of this area, as a result of the construction of the Tokyo Sky Tree. The Koto Ward government has also tried to incite hostility towards homeless people in the local residents by saying `having homeless people in the park is troublesome.’ (For more details, please refer to http://san-ya.at.webry.info/201203/article_12.html)
On February 9th 2012, around 10 people went to the Koto Ward office to protest against the violent eviction of homeless people which was carried out a day before by ward officials, guards and police. Ward officials locked those protesters out of the ward office, and in this confusion, Ryota Sono was arrested on the alleged charge of destruction of property after a glass wall was broken.
On February 29th, Ryota was again indicted for the alleged charge of forcible obstruction of business. He has been held in the Tokyo jail up to today. For more information on the situation, please refer to http://solfeb9.wordpress.com/ The police have tortured and humiliated Ryota by putting him in the solitary confinement. The prosecutors prevented contact between Ryota and his supporters by charging him on February 29th, the same date on which an open court was to be held to disclose the ground for the detention of the previous charge. The police is depriving Ryota of his freedom and imposing further sanction by prolonging his detention. There are no reasonable grounds for him to receive this kind of treatment just because he protested against the local government’s violence. We need your signatures in order to demand the release on bail of Ryota from this unjustifiable detention as soon as possible.