Jun 14 2005

Alcoa and Bechtel Greenwashed!!

Saving Iceland
June 2005

Whitewashing efforts by multinational vandals Bechtel and Alcoa were thwarted when environmentalists decided to Greenwash THEM instead.

Update: Paul Gill was released Saturday morning. He is to be detained in the country for two weeks and has to report twice a day to the police station in Reykjavik, which is unprecedented!

Delegates at the 10th World Aluminium Conference on Tuesday 14th June in Reykjavik were happily nodding and snoozing their way through a hypocritical sermon enjoying the oxymoronic title ‘An Approach to Sustainability For A Greenfield Aluminium Smelter’ when they suddenly found themselves rudely awoken by a group of protesters who ran in and drenched the speakers – industry fat cats Joe Wahba (Bechtel) and Tomas Mar Sigurdsson (Alcoa)- in green skyr (a kind of Icelandic runny yoghurt). Numerous other delegates were also spattered with the stuff.

This non-violent action by a group consisting mainly of Icelanders was prompted by outrage and disbelief at the way the Icelandic government is smoothing the way for the heavy industrialization of one of the most beautiful places left on the planet. So keen are the authorities to get the bulldozers in to trash Iceland’s delicate nature that they don’t even bother with the most basic planning requirements – in the case of the Alcoa smelter there hasn’t even been an EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] and it doesn’t have valid planning permission! Last week the Icelandic High Court ruled that the construction of the ALCOA factory was in breach of Icelandic law without an EIA. Nevertheless construction is still going on!

The action at the aluminium conference is a new challenge for the authorities who are used to a passive public accepting everything – however outrageous – without demur. Naturally their response has been draconian and they have been eager to blame outside influences, even claiming ‘professional activists’ from abroad are responsible.

Three of the Greenwashing environmentalists (two Icelandic and one British) were physically assaulted by delegates, the fat cats briskly performed “citizens arrests” on them, hurting Arna Osp, a young woman of just 20 and Briton Paul Gill. The police detained the Icelanders for 25 hours but Gill has been remanded on custody until Monday. All three are facing two years in prison and damages of up to £50 000!

The Icelandic activists involved have released a statement pointing out the injustice of Paul Gill’s treatment. He has been transferred to Littla Hraun, Iceland’s top security prison and is being discriminated against as a foreign national while the government makes a scapegoat of him. A vegan, Gill was told when he refused to eat the processed chicken thrown into his cell that he should shut up and eat “human food”. All he had to eat the first day was three slices of cucumber and a little lettuce.

A demonstration was organized today, the 16th of June, outside the ministry of Justice to demand the immediate release of Gill. British citizen Gill does not belong to the Schengen border control to which Iceland belongs. There is no reason to keep him in prison while he awaits trial because he can’t leave the country without showing his passport. Gill is not only being made a scapegoat by the panicking Icelandic autocrats, they are also taking their crude revenge for the action he took part in at the Icelandic embassy in London last year. This they desperately hope will deter other foreign activists to join us in the protest camp at Karahnjukar. However, the government have slowly come to realise that if they will try to interrogate every backpacker that comes to the country this summer or use any other draconic measures against foreign visitors they will ruin their own tourist industry. Any fascist measures they will take against the camp will destabilize the political situation in Iceland and backfire into their faces with unforeseeable consequences.

For Olafur Pall, one of the environmentalists who were arrested for throwing green skyr, the action has made Icelandic society question even more the environmental policy of their own government. “People here are just beginning to realize what’s been going on right under their noses,” he says. “And they’re noticing this whole project stinks. The battle for the pristine nature of Iceland has started for real! ”

“Someone overheard a couple of the delegates talking in the toilets as they washed green skyr from their clothes,” adds Olafur Pall. “You know what they were saying? ‘Iceland isn’t safe for Aluminium any more.’ That’s exactly the message we wanted to deliver to the international aluminium industry and they are quite right. Iceland and her beautiful nature are not for sale and we intend to protect it in any non-violent way we can.”

A recent Gallup poll showed that around half the Icelandic nation think that the Karahnjukar dam project is a serious mistake. Another Gallup poll showed that 90% of the Icelandic nation doesn’t want to see more heavy industry in their country.

The message has been delivered loud and clear. Multinational corporations and heavy industry are NOT welcome in Iceland!

Free Paul

To support Paul Gill write to this address: icelandsupport@40trition.org.uk

See also:

Icelandic ‘skyr’ activists sentenced

Answers from those arrested at Hotel Nordica 14 June


3 Responses to “Alcoa and Bechtel Greenwashed!!”

  1. Anonymous says:

    last year i was in iceland and i left too soon. i wil come back as soon as possible because it’s the last remaining wilderness of europe and it is still possible to save it as a lot of other countries. only the mentality of the people has to change!!!!!!

  2. lorraine tillett says:

    all power to you, activists. I just e’d the icelandic embassy in UK re Paul Gill.