Below is a letter written by Lawrence "Butch" Turk, for Greenpeace Southeast Asia (GPSEA) that was sent to us via our Toxics Campaigner, Beau Baconguis. Butch Turk was the ships nurse onboard the Rainbow Warrior (RW), during Crizel's last day.
Dear GPSEA, RW crew and Philippines gang,
In early 2000 I was aboard the MV Greenpeace in Fremantle, Australia. We had just abandoned an Antarctic whaling campaign before we'd started, after having ice punch a hole in the hull. The weather had been miserable the whole way - one of those tours where just putting on your pants in the morning was a risky challenge. We were facing weeks of repairs and I was frustrated and depressed.
Then, Amsterdam told me that they wanted to transfer me to the Rainbow Warrior for a Southeast Asia tour. I thought that it was going to be an action-poor, public relations campaign and begged them to just send me home instead. Boy, was I wrong.
I joined just before the Rainbow Warrior left India. The Indian Ocean transit was nice and Thailand is lovely but, as I expected, we didn't do a lot of radical planet-saving. Then, we sailed to the Philippines and everything changed.
During my 5 years sailing with Greenpeace, I travelled to 40 countries or so. Around the world I met incredible people like you, all committed to our small planet and to sticking it to the corporations and governments that are working so hard to wreck it. Even among these gems, the activists of the Philippines shine brighter. I was blown away by the competence, dedication, humor, hospitality and sheer enthusiasm of the Philippines Greenpeace crew. Just being in there presence made me feel like a young revolutionary again.
Then, I met Crizel Jane Valencia. I'm attaching an essay I wrote about her, one of her drawings and a couple of photographs, if you care to look at them. That's her steering the inflatable with Captain Pete Wilcox's assistance and me holding her in my lap. I don't think that I could re-tell what happened and how it affected me any better now. Even today, 10 years later, she and the rest of the Filipinos inspire me to just work harder and more joyously when my spirits flag.
Before the Rainbow Warrior left the Philippines, we "returned" some toxic waste to the U.S. Embassy inside a shipping container dropped at their gate. This remains my only U.S. Embassy action and one of the coolest and most important of my scores of lifetime arrests.
I didn't remember or even know that our 2000 tour was the beginning of GP SE Asia. The Filipino crew was so amazingly good at what they do that I never would have guessed. I am so proud to have made my tiny contribution to the launching of 10 years of successes.
Best wishes for another 10 years to GP SE Asia, smooth seas to the Rainbow Warrior crew, and my sincere hopes for radical, dramatic, successful actions and campaigns to both. I'll try to measure up to the example that you set.
Lawrence "Butch" Turk first got arrested in 1976 at Montana's Malmstrom Air Force Base, home to 200 nuclear ICBMs. Since then he has participated in a wide variety of peace, environmental, and social justice campaigns. He worked for Greenpeace for five years as a ship's nurse/deckhand and Stop Star Wars campaigner, and co-authored Greenpeace International's nonviolence training manual. Since 1996 he has led Ruckus Society trainings in nonviolence, blockades, action first aid and direct action support roles, along with providing camp medical care. He has been a wilderness medicine instructor and currently works in an Asheville, NC hospital.Butch still works with Greenpeace and others on toxics issues and is currently trying to stop Big Coal from flattening Appalachian mountains and poisoning our land and water. Learn more about his present work on www.mountainjusticesummer.org