Greenpeace says Rainbow Warrior denied entry to Indonesia

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Oct 14 2010 05:46 PM | Updated as of Oct 15 2010 01:46 AM

JAKARTA - Global environmental pressure group Greenpeace said Thursday its Rainbow Warrior flagship had been denied access to Indonesian waters, and insisted the government had no grounds to have turned it back.

"We are saddened by this unfortunate turn of events," Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said.

Greenpeace said it had tried to negotiate with Indonesia's foreign ministry to gain entry for the ship, which is on a two-and-a-half month voyage across Southeast Asia to promote awareness of climate change.

"The Indonesian government has no plausible grounds for Rainbow Warrior's entry denial here," Greenpeace Southeast Asia media campaigner Hikmat Soeriatanuwijaya told Agence France-Presse.

The ship, which has entered Indonesian waters several times in the past, began its current journey in Thailand on September 17 and is due to wrap up the voyage in the Philippines on November 30.

It had been due to enter Indonesian waters on Wednesday and to stay for around a month. On Thursday, it was in international waters north of Indonesia's main island of Java.

The Indonesian foreign ministry said it was seeking clarification regarding the purpose of the ship's visit, according to spokesman Teuku Faizasyah.

"There is a difference in the ship's visit intention in Indonesia submitted by their agent, which asked for entry permission, and from Greenpeace," he said.

Greenpeace has previously criticized Indonesia for the massive destruction of its forests to make way for palm oil and acacia plantations.

The destruction of rainforests and peatlands is the major reason Indonesia is considered the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

The original Rainbow Warrior was sunk by French agents in a bomb attack in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1985, where it was undergoing a refit amid an ongoing anti-nuclear campaign in the Pacific.

Greenpeace is expected to unveil the third incarnation of the ship next year.