Kumi Deported from Greenland

Feature story - June 21, 2011
Kumi Naidoo will spend night in Danish jail before release tomorrow.

The global Director of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, has been deported from Greenland after four days in jail. He is being flown to Copenhagen, where he will be held in prison for the night before being taken to Amsterdam, where he will be released.

Naidoo and fellow activist Ulvar Arnkvaern were arrested on Friday morning after breaching an exclusion zone and scaling a controversial Arctic oil rig 120km off the Greenland coast.

They were charged with trespassing and fined 20,000 DKK. The rig’s operators Cairn Energy used powerful water cannons to try to prevent him climbing a 30 metre ladder up the outside of one of the rig’s giant legs, but Naidoo braved the freezing jets and made it to the platform. [Watch the video]

Soaking wet he demanded that Cairn immediately halt drilling operations and leave the Arctic. He also presented to the rig’s operators the names of 50,000 people from across the world who have emailed Cairn to demand they publish the rig’s secret oil spill response plan. The document has been at the centre of a month-long campaign of direct action in the Arctic. After 90 minutes on the rig a helicopter from a nearby Danish warship landed above his head and he was arrested. Before climbing the rig he described the campaign to stop Arctic oil drilling as “one of the defining environmental battles of our age.”

In a letter to his daughter from jail on Sunday – Fathers Day – explaining why he scaled the rig, Kumi Naidoo wrote:

“The prison staff here in Greenland are kind and are treating us well. We get three decent meals a day (though I miss spicy food!) and we get two 30 min walks in the fresh air each day. While this struggle to prevent the destruction of the Arctic might appear remote, it is fundamental for all of humanity. It is global warming that has threatened the livelihoods of millions and the melting of the Arctic ice cap leads to sea level rise around the world. Therefore it is important that we get our leaders to stop recklessly chasing the last drops of oil that exist at the expense of pursuing better alternatives.”

Kumi, 45, was a youth leader in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, where he was arrested several times and charged with violating provisions against mass mobilisation, civil disobedience and for violating the state of emergency. He lived underground before being forced to flee South Africa and live in exile in the UK.

He is scheduled to arrive in Copenhagen at 21.15 local time tonight, spend the night in jail, leave Copenhagen at 08:25 tomorrow morning and arrive in Amsterdam at 09:55.

>> You can take action on this now! Email the CEO of Carin Energy to release the oil spill response plan.