Rainbow Warrior: 19-day arrest continues

Rock star, politicians, activists rally for ship's release

Feature story - 3 July, 2003
Rock star Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders fame) hoisted a fifteen metre banner over the stage and invited the audience in Valencia to meet her at the Rainbow Warrior. Representatives of the local socialist party joined her on board, presenting an initiative that would require the regional government to use timber certified as sustainably harvested. Meanwhile, activists from countries including Argentina, Mexico, France, Sweden, and the US demonstrated outside their respective Spanish embassies. Their collective goal: free the Rainbow Warrior, and protect the ancient forests.

The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior boarded by approximately 50 agents of the Spanish Civil Guard riot police in the port of Valencia.

While timber extracted from the world's last remaining forests enters harbours in Spain and around Europe, the Rainbow Warrior is held at bay. Authorities in Valencia detained our flagship after a non-violent, peaceful protest against the importation of illegal and destructive timber over ten days ago. The Spanish Government has demanded a bond of Euro 300,000 in exchange for the ship's freedom.

On June 13th, Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the cargo ship Honour, which transported the contentious timber. Because of this protest the Captain of the Rainbow Warrior, Joel Stewart, and four other activists have been ordered to pay a fine totaling Euro 630.

The Spanish authorities have also opened a case against the Rainbow Warrior. "Not since the French response to Greenpeace's protests against the nuclear tests in Muroroa, has Greenpeace seen this kind of repression," said Joel Stewart. "The Spanish Government should be going after the real criminals who are destroying the world's forests and not challenging the democratic right of peaceful protest."

The new European Commission Action Plan on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade does not adequately reflect the severity of the illegal logging issue and falls short on the very important point of implementing new legislation to ban the trade in illegally harvested timber. Spain plays an important role in stopping the trade in illegally harvested timber and should focus its energy and resources on implementing proper legislations to protect the lungs of the planet and not in persecuting people with evidence and facts.

The destruction of the world's last ancient forests robs local peoples of the resources needed for their survival. We are campaigning to protect the world's remaining ancient forests by promoting ecologically sustainable and social responsible forest use and the establishment of protected areas. Protected forest areas are dedicated to the conservation of their biological diversity, and of natural and associated cultural resources, and are established and managed respecting traditional land rights--particularly those of indigenous peoples. They are protected from road building and industrial activities.

Take action

Help the Rainbow Warrior get back to the business of protecting forests, and tell the authorities they can't silence our voices.