Greenpeace NZ commemorates 25th anniversary of bombing of Rainbow Warrior
PMC Newsdesk | Pacific Scoop
Greenpeace New Zealand and its international counterparts commemorated the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior at Marsden Wharf, Auckland Harbour last weekend.
Late in the night, 25 years ago, French secret agents attached two bombs beneath the Rainbow Warrior’s waterline. The bombs later exploded, blowing a huge hole int he vessel’s steel hull, and destroying its propellor shaft.
One of the Rainbow Warrior’s crew, Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira, died in the attack.
It was later found that France had planned and carrier out the attack on the Greenpeace flagship due to sensitivities France, a nuclear power, had over Greenpeace’s planned protest against French nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific.
It was the first time a foreign force had committed an act of terrorism, in modern times, on New Zealand soil. Two french agents, Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart, were later arrested and convicted after pleading guilty to manslaughter charges.
The two were sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. But after France threatened economic sanctions against New Zealand, a deal was struck where the two agents would sit out three years of their sentences on a French military base on Hao Atoll. However both Mafart and Prieur were returned to France and freedom well short of completing the imprisonment term.
Greenpeace International has marked the 25th anniversary of the bombing by laying the keel of the Rainbow Warrior III in Poland.
And Greenpeace New Zealand has held a small commemoration at its Mt Eden offices in Auckland, and in the afternoon the documentary ‘The Rainbow Warriors of Waiheke’ screened in Auckland’s Skycity theatre.
Greenpeace International’s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said: “In the 1980s, using non-violent direct action, Greenpeace faced down one of the world’s nuclear superpowers. Nuclear annihilation was a threat that came close to becoming a reality several times during the Cold War.”
He added: “Today’s biggest threat is climate change, which as we now know, has been underway for decades, since long before the French sank the Warrior.”
In a statement, Greenpeace said the 57 metre Rainbow Warrior III will carry on the work of its predecessors, once launched in October 2011. She will be able to travel the globe under sail, generally only needing to motor when entering port or when involved in actions.
Greenpeace New Zealand Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid said everyone needs to be making big changes right now in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.
“Governments must begin operating at a whole new level; ordinary citizens will have to become active in telling their governments they want action, and consumers are going to have to wean themselves off the habit of constant consumption,” says McDiarmid.
Greenpeace said the 57 metre Rainbow Warrior III will carry on the work of its predecessors, once launched in October 2011. She will be able to travel the globe under sail, generally only needing to motor when entering port or when involved in actions.
The Greenpeace statement follows:
The environmental impacts of her construction, operation and eventual disposal have all been mitigated as much as is possible through good design, and the use of non-toxic materials.
The ship will have a secure media room for broadcasting what its crew witness to the world, and, unusually for a sailing ship, she will have a helicopter pad and hanger.
The Rainbow Warrior III will cost $20 million Euros. Greenpeace NZ is aiming to raise the $400,000 needed for the Rapid Response area, from where the crew will launch their actions.
Since the fundraising site www.rainbow-warrior.org.nz went live just over a week ago, $26,000 has been raised.
“It’s an initial result that I’m sure means, with some more support from New Zealanders, we will meet our target,” says McDiarmid.
“Climate change is something that businesses, governments and people everywhere know they have a vested interest in stopping. But that will only happen with real and urgent action,” she says.