Inflatables protesting in front of Rota naval Base where there is a heavy presence of military vessels.
The right to peaceful freedom of expression is a cornerstoneof
democracy. But in Spain, where public opinion was overwhelmingly
opposed to the Iraq war, it seems standing up for apeaceful world
can get you thrown in jail.
Daniel Rizzotti, LawrenceMartin Turk, Carlos Bravo, María Teresa
Ambros and Phillip Walter Lloyd were all facing jail sentences of
up to four years.
Their crime: they stood up against the former Spanish
government's supportfor the Iraq war. Greenpeace activists in other
countries such as theUK, Netherlands, Chile and France were also
arrested during anti-warprotests but none received such severe
charges and violent treatmentas those in Spain.
On 14 March 2003 our ship the
Rainbow Warrior was protesting against the war ata Spanish port
used to send war supplies to Iraq. During the actionLawrence and
María were arrested. Military police also forcefully boarded
theRainbow Warrior and arrested the ship's captain Daniel, along
with Carlos and Phillip. After 12 hours in custody, theywere all
eventually released with charges of resisting arrest
anddisobedience, and physical damage to property.
Sentences handed down
Update May 16, 2005:Thejudge cleared 3 activists of all charges, but sentenced Captain DanielRizotti to 6 months in prison for failure to follow orders and handeddown 10 days in prison for Phil Walter Lloyd for publicdisturbance. Due to the type of sentence the activists currently willnot have to spend time in jail. We are considering appealing theCaptain's charges."These sentences are far more equal to the acts they seek to punish,"said Greenpeace Spain Executive Director Juan Lopez de Uralde,"this closes a dark chapter marked by the intention of silencingGreenpeace and its campaigns... we will continue working for theenvironment and peace." Thanks to all of you who took action tofree the activists!
Our actions are always peaceful and non-violent. The activists
face possible sentences of four years' imprisonment forDaniel,
three years' prison for Carlos and Phillip, and nine months' prison
for Lawrence and Maria. In total, almost 12years behind bars.
Additionally, the arrests were violent and severalactivists were
injured, and unnecessary damage was inflicted to the Rainbow
At the time, our onboard web editorTracy described the
"There was a loud noise on the window of thestarboard side
bridge door as the police took a sledge hammer to it,then another
bang on the window of the door right behind me. Then theglass of
the starboard side shattered and after a couple more knocksthe
police created a large hole in the window...
One of the crew waselbowed in the nose and put in a headlock,
another punched in thestomach and put in a headlock. The police
chief was by then right in myface shouting at Daniel behind me, the
camera was shaking in my hand...
There was glass all over the floorand Daniel was outside, the
police binding his hands with rope. Thepolice came back in the
bridge and grabbed Phil the Bosun and Carlosthe Spanish campaigner,
pulled them out onto the deck, arrested themand tied their hands as
It was a brutal scene and one I will not quickly forget. It is
because ofthe thousands of innocent people who will be killed and
injured that wetried to stop the US military cargo ship Cape Horn
from taking suppliesfor war to the Gulf.
It is because we dream of peaceful solutions that we ride the
The extent of the charges requested by the prosecution are
yetanother impact of the Iraq war on otherwise civil
societies: reduced civil liberties, and restrictions on the rights
toexpression and protest. A war which was theoretically
dedicatedto fostering democracy has undermined it.