Copenhagen’s famous ‘Little Mermaid’ statue has been vandalized by animal rights activists calling on Denmark to put an end to the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands.
The bronze statue, which sits on a rock by the waterside at Copenhagen’s Langelinie promenade, was spray-painted red on Tuesday.
Those behind the act made their motivation clear, leaving a spray-painted message on the pavement in front of the monument.
“Danmark [sic], defend the whales of the Faroe Islands,” the message stated.
Copenhagen police acknowledged the incident on Twitter, stating: “The Little Mermaid was targeted by vandalism. We are on the case,” as translated by the Local.
Denmark has long been pressured by animal activists to put an end to a practice known as Grindadráp, or Grind, in the Faroe Islands. Pilot whales are led into a bay or fjord where they are then killed by hand. The meat and blubber are then distributed to residents.
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Earlier this month, Sea Shepherd Netherlands submitted a request to the European Commission to launch “infringement proceedings” against Denmark. It alleged that Danish police, naval, and customs officials have been “facilitating and even actively participating in the Grind,” which violates the EU's Habitats Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora.
It added that “the government of Denmark has shown it’s willing to do whatever it can to ensure that the slaughter continues.”
While Denmark is subject to EU laws which prohibit the killing of whales and dolphins, the Faroe Islands – an autonomous territory in the North Atlantic which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark – is not part of the EU and thus is not subject to such legislation.
Sea Shepherd has denied any role in Tuesday’s vandalism, with the president of the organization's Scandinavian branch, Lukas Erichsen, telling Politiken newspaper that the group was not connected to the crime.
“We understand if people think we are behind this. But we do not support sabotage,” Erichsen said, while reiterating his calls for the EU to launch an investigation into Denmark’s role in the Faroe Islands whaling.
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Meanwhile, the head of Copenhagen Municipality's culture and leisure committee, Carl Christian Ebbesen, told broadcaster DR that he was “outraged” by the vandalism.
“National treasures like this should be left well alone. Regardless of whether it’s vandalism or politically motivated, this is well out of line,” Ebbesen said.
“I am not going to get involved in what political opinions people have. Vandalizing the Little Mermaid is as stupid as you can possibly get,” he continued.
He went on to suggest that authorities should consider installing a security camera to ensure the statue does not face more vandalism in the future.
The statue, which represents the character from the classic tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ by Hans Christian Andersen, has experienced her fair share of abuse throughout the years.
Her head was stolen in 1964 and 1998, and her arm was cut off in 1984. She has also previously been spray-painted with paint, and thrown into the sea several times.
In 2004, the statue’s head was covered with a burqa in protest over Turkey’s application to become a member of the European Union.