Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior retires, but will continue to serve humanity

SALEEM SAMAD

AFTER 52 years, the current Rainbow Warrior, which once patrolled the high seas restraining environmental crimes worldwide is heading for a new life.

The Greenpeace flagship formally retired on Tuesday at a Singapore harbor has been rechristened as The Rongdhonu (meaning Rainbow) and handed was handed over to the organization Friendship, a Bangladesh based NGO which specializes in medical care and emergency relief.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace said it hoped that the charity, Friendship, would continue to use the ship as a beacon of hope.

The iconic protest vessel the Rainbow Warrior II for 22 years will be converted into a floating hospital and will serve the Bangladesh coasts of the Bay of Bengal, delivering primary and secondary medical assistance to some of the most vulnerable communities of the world, Greenpeace press release says.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Mike Fincken, Captain of the Rainbow Warrior II, quoted the Cree Indian prophecy from which the ship got its name: “There will come a time when the Earth grows sick and when it does a tribe will gather from all the cultures of the world who believe in deeds and not words. They will work to heal it...they will be known as the "Warriors of the Rainbow.”

The Rongdhonu will also serve as an emergency medical ship around the Bangladesh coasts, bringing medical aid to areas which are already experiencing the effects of climate change, Greenpeace Captain said.

The ship confronted environmental crimes and nuclear testing, provided disaster relief to victims of the 2004 Tsunami in southeast Asia, and blocked shipments of illegal timber from the world's rainforests, Greenpeace said.

French intelligence agents in 1985 sunk Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand in a bid to stop activists from protesting against France's nuclear tests in the Pacific Ocean.

The guests and volunteers at Singapore cheered when Fincken announced that the ship will join the Greenpeace fleet in October when the organization marks its 40th anniversary.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com

For details logon to Greenpeace website: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/Farewell-to-the-Rainbow-Warrior-II--/

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