Tuesday, August 25, 2015

About rainbows, warriors and ship naming

The original Rainbow Warrior leaving London on her maiden voyage in early 1978
just months after being renamed from the Sir William Hardy. She was refitted as a sailing vessel
for her Pacific voyage in 1985. Photo: Greenpeace
WHEN the 30th anniversary edition of my book Eyes of Fire (Little Island Press) was published on the day last month marking the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior on 10 July 1985, Susi Newborn questioned my account of the naming of the Greenpeace environmental flagship. She was involved in the buying of the Aberdeen-built fishing trawler Sir William Hardy that was then renamed as the Rainbow Warrior

In the interests of historical accuracy, I have thus double-checked my sources for the book, including interviewing some of those involved at the time. I am quite satisfied there was no major inaccuracy in that section of my book comprising two paragraphs.

There was only a minor one which I am revising in future copies thanks to modern printing-on-demand technology. The decision to rename the rusty old ship Greenpeace UK had just bought was a collective one, taken in October or November 1977 at a small meeting on board the vessel in West India Dock, London, following a proposal made in writing a few weeks before by Rémi Parmentier to dub her Warrior of the Rainbow.

Those present at that meeting were Denise Bell, Charles Hutchinson, David McTaggart, Susi Newborn, Rémi Parmentier and Allan Thornton. Parmentier had first heard of the Rainbow Warrior Native American legend from a fellow called Georges Devez who had worked with him for some time in 1977-78.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

'TPPA - walk away' rally welcomes West Papuan leader Octo Mote

Visiting West Papuan leader Octo Mote at the Auckland rally against the controversial
Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade” negotiations. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC
WHILE New Zealand protesters were giving an emphatic thumbs down to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership corporate slap in the face of democracy at the weekend, a quietly spoken West Papuan in a yellow raincoat was offering solidarity at the Auckland march.

Octo Mote, a former journalist and now secretary-general of the United Liberation Front of West Papua, was in town to spread the good news of West Papuan strategic self-determination developments to activists and supporters.

He spoke at a packed public meeting in the Peace Place on Friday night less than 24 hours after talking to students at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji before taking part in the anti-TPP/TPPA rally.

Rally organiser Barry Coates introduced Mote to the crowd outside the US Consulate-General.

Apart from welcoming Vanuatu’s initiative to press for a United Nations special envoy on West Papua, and the Solomon Islands decision to appoint a special envoy, Mote was positively upbeat about the upsurge in Pacific regional support for the West Papuan human rights cause.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Rainbow Warrior ... launch of the new 'last voyage' and bombing book

DELAYED video of last month's launch of David Robie’s new Eyes of Fire edition about the last voyage and the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior, marking the 30th anniversary of the sabotage in New Zealand.

This fifth edition (following two others in New Zealand and one each in the United States and United Kingdom) tells the story of the voyage of the first Rainbow Warrior, a Greenpeace vessel protesting against nuclear testing in the South Pacific, to Rongelap Atoll and the Marshall Islands.

Coinciding with the anniversary of the bombing by French secret agents on 10 July 1985, the launch brought together many of those who had been involved with the vessel over the years, including chief engineer Davey Edward, now head of the Greenpeace global fleet, who travelled out from the Netherlands for the reunion.

The 'sanitised narrative' of Hiroshima's atomic bombing

Reproduction of The Hiroshima Panels (原爆の図) by Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi,
displayed at Higashi Honganji Temple Gallery, Kyoto. Photo: Nevin Thompson.
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of BBC News

The United States has always insisted that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary to end World War Two. But it is a narrative that has little emphasis on the terrible human cost.

I met a remarkable young man in Hiroshima the other day. His name is Jamal Maddox and he is a student at Princeton University in America. Jamal had just toured the peace museum and met with an elderly hibakusha, a survivor of the bombing.

One of the few structures left standing in Hiroshima,
the Prefectural Industry Promotion Building.
It is now the A-Bomb Dome memorial. Photo: BBC
Standing near the famous A-Bomb Dome, I asked Jamal whether his visit to Hiroshima had changed the way he views America's use of the atom bomb on the city 70 years ago. He considered the question for a long time.

"It's a difficult question," he finally said. "I think we as a society need to revisit this point in history and ask ourselves how America came to a point where it was okay to destroy entire cities, to firebomb entire cities.

"I think that's what's really necessary if we are going to really make sense of what happened on that day."

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