Greenpeace Activists Chain themselves to Ship

Published July 5th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Six Greenpeace activists who boarded a Russian freighter and chained themselves to its cargo of wood said Wednesday they will remain there until Japan promises to reduce imports of timber illegally cut from ancient forests, reported The Associated Press.  

The activists - three Russians, one Japanese, one Israeli and one Briton - also urged the Group of Eight industrial nations, who will hold a summit in Japan later this month, to take steps to enforce a program it adopted three years ago to stop illegal lumbering, said the agency.  

"We are determined to stay on board this Russian ship until we get more results," said Michelle Sheather of Britain said by cell phone as she sat chained to logs aboard the Byisk in Toyama, 160 miles northwest of Tokyo.  

"Our goal is for Japan to say it will not accept any more illegal logging imports," she told the AP. 

Japan's central government and the Russian Embassy refused to comment on the standoff. Japanese Coast Guard officials who boarded the Byisk did not try to unchain the activists, Sheather said.  

Alongside the Byisk was a Greenpeace vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, which the activists had used to follow the Russian ship since it left the Russian Far East on Sunday with a large cargo of timber.  

On Monday and Tuesday, the activists jumped aboard the 2,360-ton Byisk in international waters, and Russian crewmen threw them back into the Sea of Japan, Sheather said. No one was seriously injured and a new group boarded Tuesday night after the Toyama arrived in port, she said.  

Sheather said Greenpeace began following the Russian ship after investigating logging being done in Primorsky, a region near the Russian, Chinese and North Korean borders.  

She said loggers routinely violate Russian forestry laws by operating without required permits or with forged ones as they cut down oak, ash, Korean pine and spruce trees in ancient forests. She said at least 20 percent of the lumber that is exported from the region was illegally chopped down.  

The Toyama port relies heavily on trade with Russia. Often, Russian ships that deliver wood there return home carrying exported secondhand Japanese cars, the AP said – Albawaba.com  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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