I was hoping we’d make the anchor chain occupation last for at least 24 hours and earlier this morning it was looking like we’d make it. However, we lost out by about 40 minutes because at 12.45pm our climber was removed from the Gran Couva and has been taken away by the police. Never the less, our actions prevented the departure of the Gran Couva and it’s cargo of palm oil, plus we’ve made a big noise in the local, national and international media coverage about the link between the palm oil trade and deforestation.
According to our logistics co-ordinator Ric who was on the scene, police boats gathered during the morning until about 60 police were waiting at the bottom of the anchor chain. The main police boat had an embarrassing mishap on the way in, colliding with the Gran Couva before retreating to a safe distance. Adding to the crowd were pompong boats selling pineapples, jack fruit, onions and other essentials, like little floating shops, as well as various spectators watching the drama.
Bustar also went from the Esperanza to negotiate, and was treated like a minor celebrity by the police – they remember him from the Rainbow Warrior’s visit last year and many wanted to have their pictures taken with him. Apparently, there was even a spot of saluting going on.
But with terms like, “Your climber comes down in 15 minutes or we get him down,” there’s not much room to negotiate, and in the end, it was the climber’s decision to stay put.
An attempt was made to lower the anchor chain and deliver our climber into the hands of the police, but he just shifted further up. Finally, one policeman climbed up the chain until he was above our activist, gradually pushing down until his colleagues could cut the climber free. He’s now been taken away by the police but I’m told he’s fine and well.
The Gran Couva didn’t hang around and has already left Dumai to deliver 27,000 metric tonnes of palm oil to Rotterdam in about three weeks. We’ve been asked to leave the port but while our climber is still in custody we’ll be sticking around for a while longer.
In the meantime, here’s the conversation between our captain Madeleine and the harbour master when she was asked if the man on the anchor chain would kindly move to a different ship.
posted by Jamie on board the Esperanza