Saturday, July 10, 2010

Time flies

I told my daughter that today is the 25th anniversary of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland harbour by French secret agents when we were on the way to Moruroa to protest against nuclear weapon testing. And she told me: "you're going to put something in your blog?" So here it is.

I found a well written op'ed in The New York Times by the current Executive Director of Greenpeace International Kumi Naidoo, in which he describes his perception of the bombing as a young South African then living in a township outside Durban. On this anniversary I also visited Greenpeace International's website, and I saw that a third Rainbow Warrior is now under construction in Gdansk.

Twenty-five years is a long time, and the world has changed so much. The temptation is to say that it hasn't changed for the better. But let's be optimistic this week-end.

Kumi Naidoo's account reminds us that the transformation of South Africa is a true civil society success story affecting millions of people for the better (despite all the difficulties they still face of course, and will continue to face when the World Cup is over).

And in 1985 the construction of a Greenpeace ship in Gdansk would have been unconceivable. Before Gorbatchev's Perestroika, the few times we visited Eastern Europe and even the Soviet Union on Greenpeace ships or balloons, it only lasted a few hours or a few days each time. The time necessary to get us arrested and expelled from the country.

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