Sunday, 16 November 2014

Greenpeace boat rammed by Spanish Navy, four injured (Video)

Greenpeace España launched a protest Saturday against oil exploration off the Canary Islands of Spain. A Spanish navy boat rammed their dinghy, injuring four activists, one badly.

The islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are both at stake, as Repsol, a Spanish oil company, has been given permission to drill near the islands, a move which puts both the ecology of the area and also the much-needed tourist economy in severe danger.

The people of the Canary Islands have been protesting on an ongoing basis, fighting against the oil drilling off their shores which threatens their livelihood and the ecology of the region. Greenpeace España has joined in their cause.  However, all the various warnings on the safety and legal issues involved have so far been completely ignored by the Spanish Government. It is well known worldwide that the greed of governments and Big Oil generally wins the day, but Greenpeace still continues to do their best to prevent this.

The Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, occupied the drill site off the Canary Islands prior to the arrival of the drilling vessel.  And it stayed there, despite strong pressure from the authorities.  The video below shows the captain of the Arctic Sunrise, telling the Spanish authorities that they were staying put, and telling the navy ships to stay away at a distance of at least one mile:

During Saturday's protest, a Spanish Navy vessel rammed into the Greenpeace dinghy, injuring four of the activists on board, one of them seriously.  Video was captured of the attack and a woman screaming can be heard clearly, as she fell from the dinghy and was hit by its propellers, breaking her leg.  See the video below:

However, despite this, the Spanish navy disputes the story saying it dispatched two boats from one of the navy ships in the area, purely to prevent the Greenpeace activists from boarding the oil drill ship and that the woman accidentally fell from the boat.  The navy apparently rushed the woman to hospital in a helicopter.

Speaking by radio-telephone from Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in the area, Capt. Joel Stewart identified the woman as a 23-year-old Italian activist and said the injuries to the three other activists fortunately were only minor.

Referendum blocked:

Last month the Canary Islands regional government was to hold a referendum on the oil exploration in waters off the islands, situated off northwestern Africa.  However, the Constitutional Court, acting at the behest of the Spanish government, blocked the proposal.  It gave Repsol YPF S.A., the Spanish energy company, permission to begin drilling with a large drilling ship and platform.  This oil exploration is currently ongoing.

View of Lanzarote CC by-SA Luc Viatour 
Arctic Sunrise back in action:
Saturday's protest was the first by the Arctic Sunrise since that ship was boarded in international waters and held for more than 300 days by Russian authorities.  This was during a protest against Gazprom's oil drilling in the Arctic.  Once the ship was released, Greenpeace took it to Amsterdam for repairs and the ship is now fully back at work.

However, it was not only the ship that was held during the incident in Russia and 28 crew members and two journalists on board the Arctic Sunrise were also held for over three months in detention centers in Russia.  Despite the ordeal, two of those crew members were involved in Saturday's protest to protect the Canary Islands - Ana Paula, deckhand, from Brazil, and Alexander, bosun, from Canada.


Greenpeace International (English language)
Greenpeace España (Spanish language)