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Rainbow Warrior

Rainbow Warrior. New Zealand History. Essay

A significant event in New Zealand’s history that my family, or better my father, was involved with is the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior by French Spies on July 10th 1985. A build up of protests concerned with the banning of Nuclear Testing in the Pacific Ocean by powers such as France, Britain and the United States of America (USA) led to Frances act of international terrorism. My father was involved with this event in history because on July 10th 1985 Ken Davies was on call at Central Auckland Fire Brigade, and his team attended the call to put the fire out on the Rainbow Warrior after the bombing.

The bombing of the Rainbow Warrior is a significant event in history, as the events that happened prior to and after the event helped to secure New Zealand’s standing as an Independent Pacific Nation, it eventually led to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, whomever signed agreed to not test nuclear weapons, and it also brought New Zealanders together under one belief to stop nuclear testing in the Pacific ocean. Ultimately it was due to the New Zealand public and their insistence on the nuclear free policies that the Pacific Nations are nuclear free and nuclear testing has been stopped by the large powers.
The buildup of events that led to Frances act of terrorism was many, and didn’t begin with France testing in the Pacific. Nuclear testing had begun in the Pacific in the 1950s by Britain USA, with France starting in 1966. America and Britain stopped its testing in 1962 with France carrying on. By the time France eventually stopped testing over 250 nuclear bombs had been detonated in the Pacific region.
The concern in this testing was the damage it causes the natural environment when set off, altering it in ways that cannot be reversed and also the fact that these powers chose to test in a region not close to their own lands, meaning the effects of Nuclear Testing would not affect them or their country. New Zealanders of course were not happy with this.

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Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

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French agents posing as interested supporters or tourists toured the ship while it was open to public viewing. DGSE agent Christine Cabon. posing as environmentalist Frederique Bonlieu, volunteered to work in the Greenpeace office in Auckland. Cabon secretly monitored communications from the Rainbow Warrior. collected maps, and investigated underwater equipment, in order to provide information crucial to the sinking.

After the necessary information had been gathered two DGSE divers attached two limpet mines to the Rainbow Warrior berthed at Marsden Wharf and detonated them 10 minutes apart. The first bomb went off 11:38 p.m. creating a large hole about the size of an average car. Agents intended the first mine to cripple the ship so that it would be evacuated safely by the time the second mine was detonated. However, the crew did not react to the first explosion as the agents had expected. While the ship was initially evacuated, some of the crew returned to the ship to investigate and film the damage. A Portuguese-Dutch photographer, Fernando Pereira. returned below decks to fetch his camera equipment. At 11:45 p.m. the second bomb went off. Pereira drowned in the rapid flooding that followed, and the other ten crew members either safely abandoned ship on the order of Captain Peter Willcox or were thrown into the water by the second explosion. The Rainbow Warrior sank four minutes later.

France implicated Edit

Operation Satanique was a public relations disaster. France, being an ally of New Zealand, initially denied involvement and joined in condemning what it described as a terrorist act. The French Embassy in Wellington denied involvement, stating that "the French Government does not deal with its opponents in such ways". [2]

After the bombing, the New Zealand Police started one of the country's largest police investigations. Most of the agents on the team escaped New Zealand, but two, Captain Dominique Prieur and Commander Alain Mafart were identified as possible suspects. Posing as a married couple, Sophie and Alain Turenge, were identified with the help of a Neighborhood Watch group, and were arrested. Both were questioned and investigated. While carrying Swiss passports. their true identities were discovered, along with the French government's responsibility.

Three other agents, Chief Petty Officer Roland Verge. Petty Officer Bartelo and Petty Officer Gérard Andries. who sailed to New Zealand on the yacht Ouvéa . were arrested by Australian police on Norfolk Island, but released as Australian law did not allow them to be held until the results of forensic tests came back. They were then picked up by the French submarine Rubis . which scuttled the Ouvéa.

A sixth agent, Louis-Pierre Dillais. commander of the operation, was never captured and never faced charges. He acknowledged his involvement in an interview with New Zealand State broadcaster TVNZ in 2005. [3]

Prieur and Mafart pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on 22 November 1985. France threatened an economic embargo of New Zealand's exports to the European Economic Community if the pair were not released. [4] Such an action would have crippled the New Zealand economy, which was dependent on agricultural exports to Britain. [ citation needed ]

In June 1986, in a political deal with Prime Minister of New Zealand David Lange. presided over by United Nations Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. France agreed to pay NZ$13 million (USD$6.5 million) to New Zealand and apologise, in return for which Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur would be detained at the French military base on Hao Atoll for three years. However, the two agents had both returned to France by May 1988, after less than two years on the atoll. Mafart returned to Paris on 14 December 1987 for medical treatment, and was apparently freed after the treatment. He continued in the French Army and was promoted to colonel in 1993. Prieur returned to France on 6 May 1988, because she was pregnant, her husband having been allowed to join her on the atoll. She, too, was freed and later promoted. The removal of the agents from Hao without subsequent return was ruled to be in violation of the 1986 agreement. [5]

A commission of enquiry headed by Bernard Tricot cleared the French government of any involvement, claiming that the arrested agents, who had not yet pleaded guilty, had merely been spying on Greenpeace. When The Times and Le Monde claimed that President Mitterrand had approved the bombing, Defence Minister Charles Hernu resigned and the head of the DGSE, Admiral Pierre Lacoste. was fired. Eventually, Prime Minister Laurent Fabius admitted the bombing had been a French plot: On 22 September 1985, he summoned journalists to his office to read a 200 word statement in which he said: "The truth is cruel," and acknowledged there had been a cover-up, he went on to say that "Agents of the French secret service sank this boat. They were acting on orders." [6]

Aftermath Edit

Memorial to the Rainbow Warrior, at Matauri Bay in Northland, New Zealand

In the wake of the bombing, a flotilla of private New Zealand yachts sailed to Moruroa to protest against the French test.

At that time, French nuclear tests in the Pacific were halted. However, another series of tests was conducted in 1995. [7] In 1987, under international pressure, the French government paid $8.16 million to Greenpeace.

The Rainbow Warrior was refloated for forensic examination. She was deemed irreparable and scuttled at Script error in Matauri Bay. near the Cavalli Islands. on 12 December 1987, to serve as a dive wreck and fish sanctuary. [1] Her masts had been removed and put on display at the Dargaville Maritime Museum.

The failure of Western leaders to condemn this violation of a friendly nation's sovereignty caused a great deal of change in New Zealand's foreign and defence policy. [2] New Zealand distanced itself from its traditional ally, the United States, and built relationships with small South Pacific nations, while retaining excellent relations with Australia, and to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom. [3]

In 2005, Le Monde released a 1986 report that said Admiral Pierre Lacoste. head of DGSE at the time, had "personally obtained approval to sink the ship from the late president François Mitterrand ." Soon after the publication, former Admiral Lacoste came forward and gave newspaper interviews about the situation, while also admitting the death weighed on his conscience and said the aim of the operation had not been to kill. [4] He acknowledged the existence of three teams: the crew of the yacht, reconnaissance and logistics (those successfully prosecuted), plus a two-man team that carried out the bombing and whose identities have never been confirmed. [5]

A 20th anniversary memorial edition of the 1986 book Eyes of Fire: The Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior. [6] by New Zealand author David Robie who was on the bombed ship, was published in July 2005. He was interviewed by TVNZ on 8 August 2006 about the Court of Appeal judgement. [7]

Also on that anniversary, Television New Zealand (TVNZ) sought to access a video record made at the preliminary hearing where the two agents pleaded guilty. The footage had remained sealed on the court record since shortly after conclusion of the criminal proceedings. The two agents opposed release of the footage—despite having both written books on the incident—and have unsuccessfully taken the case to the New Zealand Court of Appeal and, subsequently, the Supreme Court of New Zealand. [8] On 7 August 2006, judges Hammond, O'Regan and Arnold dismissed the former French agents' appeal [9] and Television New Zealand broadcast their guilty pleas the same day. However, two days later the judges reversed their ruling, temporarily blocking webcasts [10] and further broadcasts of the footage. [7]

In 2006 Antoine Royal revealed that his brother, Gérard Royal. had claimed to be involved in planting the bomb. Their sister is French Socialist Party politician Ségolène Royal who was contesting the French presidential election. [11] [12] Other sources identified Royal as merely a Zodiac pilot, [13] and the New Zealand government announced there would be no extradition requests since the case was closed. [14]

Louis-Pierre Dillais is now an executive in the U.S. subsidiary of Belgian arms manufacturer FN Herstal and lives in the U.S. state of Virginia. [15] Ironically the New Zealand government has been buying arms from FN Herstal. [16] Greenpeace are still pursuing the extradition of Dillais for his involvement in the act. [17]

On 14 October 2011, Greenpeace launched a new sailing vessel called Rainbow Warrior III. which is equipped with an auxiliary electric motor. [18]

See also Edit References Edit Further reading Edit
  • Michael King, Death of the Rainbow Warrior (Penguin Books, 1986). ISBN 0-14-009738-4
  • David Robie. Eyes of Fire: The Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior (Philadelphia: New Society Press, 1987). ISBN 0-86571-114-3
  • The Sunday Times Insight Team, Rainbow Warrior: The French Attempt to Sink Greenpeace (London: Century Hutchinson Ltd, 1986). ISBN 0-09-164360-0
External links Edit

Films (all are productions for television):

  • The Rainbow Warrior Conspiracy at the Internet Movie Database (Australia 1989)
  • The Rainbow Warrior at the Internet Movie Database (New Zealand 1992)
  • The Boat and the Bomb at the Internet Movie Database (United Kingdom and Netherlands 2005)
  • L' Affaire du Rainbow Warrior at the Internet Movie Database (France 2006, concentrating on the experience of French journalists)
  • Blowing Up Paradise 2006 BBC Documentary movie by Ben Lewis about French Atomic Testing in Pacific and associated murder of Rainbow Warrior Greenpeace activist by French Secret Service.

30 years on from Rainbow Warrior bombing environment voices are still needed - Opinion - ABC Environment (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

30 years on from Rainbow Warrior bombing environment voices are still needed

David Ritter ABC Environment 10 Jul 2015

The Rainbow Warrior lies in Marsden Wharf in Auckland Harbour after the bombing by French secret service agents. 11 July 1985. Credit: John Miller (Greenpeace)

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the bombing of protest vessel, the Rainbow Warrior. As much as ever, small voices need to join a chorus to show our leaders what is right.

IF A POLITICIAN were to suggest testing nuclear weapons in the Pacific today, they would rightly be thought to have lost their minds; be out of step with reality and the common good, and certainly at odds with the global mindset.

Thirty years ago, it was a different time and the exploding of nuclear bombs beneath the Pacific Ocean was routine. But it was even then not acceptable, and it did not go unchallenged.

On this day three decades ago, a dozen courageous people were preparing to sail from Auckland in the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior. They planned to put themselves in the test zone at Mororoa Atoll, in opposition to the planned detonation. They carried with them the hopes and voices of many more people from around the world.

The ship had already been working in the Pacific before arriving in New Zealand. The crew had been evacuating the entire community of 350 people from the island of Rongelap to a less contaminated island — effectively making them nuclear refugees from the US nuclear test program that had gone on there during the 1950s. The Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira's powerful images of the horrific impact of previous tests on their bodies and homes had been seen around the world.

The Rainbow Warrior never left Auckland. French secret service agents detonated two bombs below the water line, close to midnight, sinking the ship at the dock and killing Fernando. He was 35 years old and had two small children.

State-sponsored terrorism stopped that voyage, but it did not stop the protests. One supporter coined the slogan: "You can't sink a rainbow" and that spirit, and the memory of Fernando, is now as much a part of the Greenpeace DNA as is non-violence and civil disobedience.

In the last thirty years, individual and collective acts of courage have been the hallmark of peaceful protests around the world, by environmentalists as well as human rights and social justice campaigners. And it has come at too high a price for many. Last year 166 people died defending the environment. Since 2002, 900 defenders of humanity's common heritage have been killed.

These are the people we know, the names we can count — but what of others? The global threat we all face today is climate change. It is driven by coal and oil, and is already reshaping our lands and seas, with stronger and more frequent droughts, storms, floods, and bushfires; warming seas and coral bleaching. It is creating climate refugees and it is killing people. According to the Pentagon, it is a national security threat greater than terrorism.

Australia is exporting and fuelling that climate change. While even the worst emitters are finally conceding that action needs to be taken, the Abbott government wants to build Australia's biggest carbon bomb — the Carmichael mega-mine — and Abbot Point port expansion along the Great Barrier Reef. It is tragically ironic that the government's own scientists say the Reef's greatest threat is climate change, and that we can have coal expansion or a healthy Reef, but we can't have both.

But the Abbott government has signalled that speaking out on any issues is not welcome in Australia. Health workers in Nauru can now be jailed for reporting child sex abuse at the detention centres. Within the environment movement, a federal parliamentary enquiry is being mounted into how environmental organisations use tax-deductible income, but no such enquiry is being held into the coal companies who do the same, despite repeated requests. The Environment Minister has created a wind ombudsman to manage complaints about this form of renewable energy, but no coal ombudsman has been, or will be, appointed. Peaceful environmentalists in Australia have been vilified and condemned for simply daring to dissent.

It takes courage to speak out, to make a stand. And it comes in many forms — from peaceful direct action to writing letters; making phone calls; even talking to neighbours about your beliefs. But when those acts of courage multiply and become one global voice — that is when change comes.

And what can be more Australian than having a strong opinion and making sure it is heard?

Almost without fail governments and corporations have underestimated ordinary people and the power they wield. No one believed that people taking to the street, to boats, to pen and paper and even the payphone on the corner back in 1985, could change the global policy on nuclear testing. But they did.

So, what will we say thirty years from now? Will the idea of cooking our planet be as insane as it was to nuke it? Will the voices of the millions of people worldwide have got through? I believe it will. Not because the politicians acted, but because the people will decide.

David Ritter is the CEO of Greenpeace Australia Pacific.

Rainbow Warrior bomb apology not enough, captain - Asia-Pacific

Rainbow Warrior bomb apology not enough, captain

By RFI Issued on 07-09-2015 Modified 07-09-2015 to 10:57

The captain the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior said on Monday that an apology from a French secret service frogman who helped blow up in 1985 does not absolve him and then-president François Mitterrand of "cold-blooded murder".

Former military diver Jean-Luc Kister on Sunday broke his 30-year silence and said sorry for his part in the bombing on 10 July 1985, which killed Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira and destroyed Greenpeace's converted trawler.

The Rainbow Warrior was docked in Auckland ahead of a protest against French nuclear testing at Mururoa Atoll, about 1,200 kilometres southeast of Tahiti.

The Greenpeace flagship's captain Pete Willcox told Radio New Zealand he accepted Kister's apology was genuine but said it should not obscure the harsh truth about the attack.

"I accept the apology, I think it was sincere. I hope that it allows him to sleep better and live his life out.

"But it doesn't change the fact he and his friends - president Mitterrand and everybody that was part of that team, who planned the operation and carried it out, are murderers -- that should be part of the story."

Willcox rejected Kister's suggestion the photographer's death was accidental, saying he did not believe an elite military dive squad with explosives training could bungle an operation so badly.

Two of the agents who took part, Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur, were arrested in New Zealand shortly after the bombing but spent only a short time in jail under a deal reached with France.

Willcox said most of those responsible, including Kister, had never faced justice for their actions.

"Two people that were part of the team spent a year in jail. No, I don't think justice was ever done. I think that's a ridiculous notion."

France has officially apologised for the incident, paid compensation and stopped its nuclear testing in 1996.

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