Noose left as warning to Greenpeace activists at our Forest Rescue Station in Lapland.
Dangerous machinery is driven dangerously close to where people
aresleeping, and trees felled in the middle of the night. Foul
smellingliquids and chicken faeces are daubed on doors and
Treesare set on fire. Burning crosses are waved, nooses are left
hangingfrom trees. Snowscooters are driven around high speed -
endangeringanyone who might get in the way. Death threats are the
order of theday.
Welcome to Finland, April 2005 - an EU country thatlikes to
pride itself on both its environmental and human rightscredentials.
And these are the tactics carried out by members of theso-called
"Anti-Terror Info Camp", set up by employees of, and with
thepermission of, the state-owned forestry company, Metsähallitus,
to driveGreenpeace activists out of the Forest Rescue Station.
Nightafter night, since April 7th, in the woods of Nellim,
Lapland, ouractivists have been subjected to systematic - but also
chaotic -intimidation and violence.
It's getting more bizarre everynight - last night individual
activists were cornered, with three orfour masked, intoxicated men
blowing air horns into their ears. Thepolice were called to the
scene after violence towards the ForestRescue team became imminent.
The police arrived - but suggested thatthe behaviour of the masked
men was 'normal'.
Our actions to save this ancient forest: undeterred, despite
aggression and cold
Despitethis harassment, our work in Finland continues undeterred
- a few daysago, they dumped a truckload of logging waste outside
governmentoffices in Helsinki, about 1000km south of the Forest
Climbersunfurled a banner from the roof of the Ministry of
Agriculture andForestry (MAF) reading: "Don´t Finnish the Sámi
forests". Theministry has been deadly silent on the issue, despite
sanctioning thedestruction of reindeer forests over several
decades, and allowingMetsähallitus, to profit from the conflict
between traditional reindeerherders and logging. These ancient
forests have been logged toproduce disposable products such as copy
paper and magazines.
What does "Anti-Terror" mean to
Backin March, we set up the Forest Rescue Station to highlight
the role ofMetsähallitus and paper companies such as Stora Enso in
forestdestruction. But it seems Metsähallitus is unwilling to
resolve theissue in a civilised way, and the conflict has
escalated. On 7April, Metsähallitus´ workers set up the so-called
"Anti-Terror InfoCentre" close to our Forest Rescue Station.
There must havebeen some kind of translation issue when they
decided on "Anti-Terror"as a name. Workers at the camp have tried
to intimidateGreenpeace activists during the night by brandishing
chainsaws andhorns, banging metal drums, or driving snow-scooters
around the Stationblasting an air-raid siren. A heavy forest
machine has been illegallydriven around the Rescue Station, dumping
tree trunks and stumps closeto people, violating safety regulations
for such machines. Trees havebeen cut down and burned (despite a
current moratorium on logging inthe area) and crucifixes have been
burnt. At least the"anti-terrorists" are probably not getting much
Monika,an activist who visited the camp, said, "Lucky as I am, I
had thechance to see those loggers in reality when I was in the
camp. Theirinfantile and useless behaviour, however, is not only
quite annoying,but also funny enough to laugh about at the same
Perhapsmore seriously, one of the Finnish campaigners has also
received deaththreats via a mobile phone call. Strangely, the
caller did nothide his own number or identity, and blatantly stated
"If you will notremove the camp in 48 hours, some people will be
killed....You will bethe first one....I can kill if
needed...There's no harm if I'll end upin prison." Concerned about
our activists, the New Zealand ConsulGeneral wrote to the camp
saying, "You can feel assured that I will notaccept illegal conduct
by anyone - least of all the authorities. And I have the means of
intervening if necessary."
To date,MAF has been unwilling to solve the conflict. They have
pushed theirresponsibility and solutions back to local level of
Metsähallitus,despite of the fact that it has no genuine will or
tools to solve theconflict. The ministry hasn't even bothered
answering letters sent bythe indigenous reindeer herders or a joint
letter from WWF, Greenpeaceand the Finnish Association for Nature
Recently, wetook some authors from different European countries
to the ForestRescue Station. Despite an initially tense atmosphere,
the authorsapparently managed to make headway and hold very
civilisedconversations with the "Anti-Terror" workers. Half way
through thedialogue, the loggers even began to fold up their
banners and put theirsigns on the ground. (The banners read
"Greenpeace = Al Qaeda" and"F*ck FSC!" However, more positively was
a longer banner that read: 'Welove you authors'!) The authors
seemed to really appreciate someopportunity to hear the other side
of the discussion, particularlygiven that Stora Enso and
Metsähallitus have refused to meet with them.
You can read more about the rescue camp, including videos of the
"Anti-Terror" workers, on the Forest Rescue
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