The Peaceful Greenpeace Protest that Ended with Shots Fired

A campaign has been set up on Greenpeace website to “Free our Activists.” On its website, Greenpeace also makes a statement that Greenpeace International has a long and proud history of peaceful protests in defence of the environment. But, if it’s a real peaceful movement, why would the Russian military welcome a Greenpeace vessel with warning shots?

Greenpeace has a long history of protests to expose what they say are environmental crimes. One of their most notorious, an anti-nuclear protest in 1985, led to French Special Forces sinking the Rainbow Warrior while it was in port in Auckland, New Zealand. Despite this and myriad other violent incidents, the environmental hero claims it’s still a peaceful organization.

Greenpeace’s latest peaceful campaign, a series of protests involving the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise at an offshore oil rig in the Pechora Sea, also resulted in shots fired when the Russian Coast Guard fired warning shots to force the ship to withdraw from the base of the rig where two activists were attempting to climb onto it. Security forces then boarded the vessel, arrested the two “climbers,” and are currently escorting it back to Murmansk.

Prior to the takedown on the high seas, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a protest to the Dutch Ambassador due to the fact that the ship is registered in the Netherlands and Greenpeace International is based there. The Federal Security Service (FSB), which oversees Russia’s border guards, said in a statement that the ship had been seized under laws governing Russia’s exclusive economic zone and that its activities would be reported to the country’s Investigative Committee for possible criminal charges. The committee’s regional branch, in a separate statement, said it was considering charges of piracy and/or terrorism.

Greenpeace is proud of its peaceful protest movement and gives itself credit for some great achievements. It also takes a distorted pride in the fact that actions of its activists frequently break the law. The head of Greenpeace, Kumi Naidoo, has even said that it is justifiable to break the law in order to alert people to the threat of climate change. Being a peaceful movement and simultaneously breaking the law would seem to any reasonable person to be mutually exclusive.

Greenpeace further takes the absurd position that its activists are peaceful and places the blame for un-peaceful behavior on “aggressors” such as the FSB. However, when one behaves in a way that provokes such a reaction is not the provocateur ultimately responsible for any violence that ensues?

Greenpeace’s decades of publicity stunts have run their course. It has lost sight of its original altruistic goals and has become nothing more than a political organization with a militant agenda. With so many people on this earth who really need help with life’s basic needs, Greenpeace’s enormous financial resources would be better focused in a more humanitarian direction. No shots would be fired, no ships would be boarded, and the world would be a better place.

About Rina Hutajulu 17 Articles
Rina Hutajulu is an independent journalist for the Dekker Centre focusing on political studies of civil society movements and environmental issues in Indonesia. She writes for various on line media and print media as well. Rina is based in Jakarta.

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