Aug 17 2005

We who have been protesting…

Saving Iceland

We who have been protesting against heavy industry and the devastating destruction of Iceland’s natural environment at Kárahnjúkar in the Eastern highlands of Iceland and in other parts of the country in recent months would like to take the opportunity to make the following statement:

During our protests we have used methods which may not have a long tradition in Iceland but which do not constitute a breach of the law. We are a broad-based group of Icelanders and people of many other nationalities united by our respect for the natural environment and our intolerance of repression, the misuse of power and the violation of human rights.

We have expressed our opposition to the large-scale destruction of areas of outstanding natural beauty in the Icelandic highlands in the following ways:

– by disseminating information about the heavy-industry madness of the Icelandic government, which is reflected in the proposed construction of hydroelectric plants by the National Power Company (Landsvirkjun) and other power companies at sites such as Thjórsárver, Langisjór, Skjálfandafljót and Skagafjördur.

– by hanging a banner displaying a crack on the Karahnjukar dam.

– by locking ourselves on to construction machinery and climbing up cranes.

– by writing slogans on workmen’s huts at the Kárahnjúkar dam construction site

– by holding protest walks at the Kárahnjúkar dam site.

People from Impregilo, the Italian construction group building dams and tunnels at Kárahnjúkar, have displayed threatening behaviour such as driving motorcycles through the protest camp at night (with children in the tents) and by vandalizing the property of the camp.

The workers of Impregilo live under squalid conditions, have been put in life threatening situations and violated in various other ways. Icelandic unionists have repeatedly complained that Impregilo have been allowed to break laws, for months at a time. G. Gunnarsson, leader of the Icelandic Electrician’s Union has pointed out in the Icelandic press that neither the police nor the government act when worker’s rights are violated but resources are always on hand during protests against dam. Impregilo has got away with repeatedly breaking the law which the government has chosen to ignore. Sabotage of machinery by disaffected Impregilo workers has been frequent at the Kárahnjúkar dam site.

By encouraging the use of cheap international migratory labour for building the dams and building and working in the Alcoa aluminium smelter the Icelandic authorities are deliberately trying to break down the achievements of a century long struggle for the rights of Icelandic workers. This also exposes as completely false the claims of the Icelandic government that the Kárahnjúkar project is to create jobs for the Icelandic people of the East.

We consider our protest as being clearly within Icelandic law and so regard as illegal the deportation of people who have taken part in our protest, given that no charges have been brought against them. Deporting people from Iceland and barring them from returning to the country simply because they have expressed their opposition to the hydroelectric developments at Kárahnjúkar, which is a very controversial decision by the Icelandic government, is not in accordance with the democratic rule of law due to the undeniable fact that so much of the information to push this through parliament was systematically falsified.

We would also like to point out that some of the people on the Directorate of Immigration’s list for deportation have already left the country and most of the rest will have left by the time the decision about their deportation is obtained. Their deportation therefore has no other purpose than to exclude foreign environmentalists from Iceland in the coming years, thereby isolating Icelandic protesters from the outside world.

There is no question that we will test the legality of deporting foreign nationals simply for expressing their opinion of the government’s hydroelectric policy.

Those of us who have organized the protests have experienced treatment at the hands of the Icelandic police that is wholly inconsistent with a democratic society that should respect human rights. We have been treated as if we were terrorists. Many of us have been followed by uniformed and plain-clothes police officers for up to twenty-four hours a day. The police have broken into our homes without search warrants, on the pretext of serving us with papers from the Directorate of Immigration, laid hands on those of us who were at home and treated us in a degrading manner. Our cars have been impounded without authority.

Some of us have been arrested on no charge by plain-clothes officers and taken to police cells where we have been detained without food or water. The Icelandic police have repeatedly abused their power by violating our fundamental rights such as the right to enjoy our homes in peace.

We will be lodging a complaint with the State Prosecutor in which we will demand that the actions of the police are subjected to a public inquiry.

The reason for the presence in Iceland this summer of a large group of protesters from the international community should be obvious in the light of globalisation. After all, the government has invited multinational corporations to the country to take part in the feeding frenzy of heavy industry that now has Icelandic society and nature in its grip.

Companies like Alcoa, Bechtel and Impregilo have a long history of convictions for crimes against nature and still have judgements pending on charges of serious environmental damage or corruption. In addition, as mentioned above, they currently have a large number of foreign nationals working for them in Iceland.

This attack on Icelandic nature is not a private affair for the Icelanders; pollution knows no national borders. Ironically, the Icelanders boast of living in an unspoilt land and promote the country on this basis in the international marketplace. If the government’s policy of heavy industrialization is not stopped, such a promotion of Icelandic nature will cease to have any basis in truth.

We have not given up our opposition and will continue our battle as is our legal right. Our protest will take diverse forms, ranging from books, films, music, picnics, lectures, information booths, banners, placards, words and festivals to climbing construction cranes.

We will continue our protest summer after summer, winter after winter, until we have achieved our goal which is to galvanize the Icelandic people to take action against the destruction of their land and the curtailment of their freedom of speech.

Stop the outrage, stand up for our natural environment!

The Protestors

No Responses to “We who have been protesting…”

  1. vanaheim says:

    There was a meeting in manchester england tonight organised by one of the protesters who has been active in iceland.good things should come from this.just as the capitalists are global so is our resistance.

    earth liberation. Defend midgard!

  2. Adam Reed says:

    Down with corporate profiteering. Down with envirocidal fascism. If we don’t stop killing our planet soon, our planet will kill us. Touch the earth and she will tell you this. Listen to her screams, and you will hear her lament. I pray to all gods that someday soon the hearts of men will openly weep for the atrocities we have commited against our mother earth. I pray, and pray, and pray.

  3. Otto Sundar says:

    Iceland is one of the few places left in the world with what I consider unspoiled nature and a pollution-free environment. However, I’m alarmed by what I hear about the large-scale destruction of Iceland’s natural environment at Kárahnjúkar in the Eastern highlands of Iceland and in other parts of the country by greedy companies also bent on exploiting foreign workers. I strongly support the efforts of the Icelandic people to prevent this and preserve Iceland’s unspoiled nature for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations. I visit Iceland about twice a year and enjoy to the utmost Iceland’s wonderful outdoors, so it saddens me to realize that all this could be seriously threatened if we don’t take responsibility and act now.

  4. Cliff Taylor says:

    Plans should be made by Icelanders for Impeachment of their criminal government (if you can call it a proper government–for sure they have been paid off$$). The evil men of Alcoa are responsible for the rape of the planet in many parts of the world. All they want is cheap energy to fuel the war machine. Think of where this metal ends up– nuclear bombs, jet fighters (the list is endless), to the foil we wrap our food in. We need a whole new perspective on how we live (and how we are going to change the way we live).

    I am willing to travel to Iceland, play as many shows/concerts as possible, protest and even do jail time if need be to help save the island. A call to arms should go out to every environmentalist of every nation to stop this evil American company. A war on Environmental Terror. Not all Americans are bad. If you read about the war for “American” Independence (and many are fighting for the freedom of the USA again), the soldiers in 1776 went through hell and back, fighting for freedom; a model can be born again. Where is the George Washington for environmental freedom? Step up to the plate George the II, your planet and people love and need you. God Bless the Planet.

  5. Kim says:

    Hi – I would like to help with the effort to stop this and raise awareness in the UK – I attended the benefit gig this weekend and was pleased that so many different age groups and people were there…however you need help from the international community as well.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Your website helps me to focus a bit better then usual on the daunting problems of planet consiousness. I admire your plans already,I hope you get lots of support, but maybe you have the potential to draw ten times more support than you imagine.

    One idea I have is, could there be a grass roots demonstration-boycott of aluminum products….maybe a one-week moratorium to coincide with earth day or something like that….to let people participate and raise consiousness all over the planet if they can’t afford to fly to Iceland. I will work on some webpages for that idea myself as well as make some links from my site to yours.

    The other idea is, how about an alternate locality to make a protest at, someplace where your Icelandic directors who do not support you will be. They won’t be mucking around in rubber boots in the pouring rain, and there are probably lots of potential supporters to this cause who would rather not catch pneumonia or pee on an iceberg. Where does the president of Iceland have their summer home? Does ALCOA have an office in Iceland? How about their headquarters wherever they are? The address of all their headquarters might be good info to have on the website for further inspiration.

    AS I get more ideas or info, I will post it. Good luck.

  7. Anonymous says:

    … um aðgerðir mótmælenda við Kárahnjúka,aðgerðir lögreglu, og að sjálfsögðu framvæmdirnar sjálfar og orð og gjörðir þeirra sem að þeim standa.
    Ég var ekki staddur þarna þegar virðist hafa skorist í odda milli lögreglu og mótmælenda og veit því ekki hvor átti upptökin eða hvernig þetta fór beinlínis fram, enda stendur vissulega nokkuð orð mórti orði.
    Ég veit hins vegar að fréttaflutningur af mótmælunum hefur einkennst af miklu háði í garð mótmælenda og mótmæla. Alltaf talað um hve fáir þeir séu, ef þeir mótmæla friðsamlega er litið á þá sem sauðmeinlaus grey og kjánalega en um leið og þeir taka sig til og beita beinum aðgerðum, þá er talað um þá eins og verstu hryðjuverkamenn, þá fyrst fá þeir einhverja meiri athygli. Ég þekki það af eigin raun hvernig lögregla getur beitt valdi sínu gagnvart friðsömum mótmælendum, ef þeir gera ekki eins og valdstjórnin býður þeim. Ef lögreglan veitist að mér er hún að vinna vinnuna sína, en ef ég verst henni þá er ég að ráðast á laganna vörð. Upphæðirnar sem fyrirtækin nefna og hið gífurlega tjón er líka áhugavert að skoða. Eftir skyrslettuhryðjuverkin ógurlegu var talað um 5 milljóna eignatjón, hvorki meira né minna. Svo var upphæðin einhverja hluta vegna minnkuð, uns hætt var við að krefjast skaðabóta. Af þremur mótmælendum var einungis einn kærður. Það var auðvitað „helvítis útlendingurinn“, Paul Gill. „Atvinnumótmælandinn”, „málaliðinn” „náttúru-hryðjuverkamaðurinn“. Hvað þið viljið kalla hann. Nú var málað á skilti, brotin rúða í bíl og spreyjað á vinnuskúr. Að sögn er ekki hægt að ná því af. Nú veit ég ekkert um það. En það er talað um tjón frá tugum þúsunda upp í hundruðir þúsunda. Finnst mér einum vera dálítill munur á hvort það eru tugir eða hundruð? Hef ég einn á tilfinningunni að þeir nefni einhverja tölu út í loftið og reyni að gera sem mest úr tjóninu sem þeir geta? Stóriðjuhöldar vilja kæra mótmælendurna og vísa „helvítis útlendingunum“ úr landi. Hvað sem aðgerðum líður styð ég málstað mótmælenda. Finnst mér einum þetta tjón smámunalegt miðað við þau gífurlegu náttúruspjöll sem þessir menn eru að vinna landinu okkar með þessari virkjun og vilja auka með frekari stóriðju? Hvað sem mönnum kann að finnast um eignatjón þá er ljóst að orðræðan dugði ekki til. Skýrslur, rannsóknir, greinar, umræða, það var ekki hlustað á neitt af þessu. Rök skiptu engu máli fyrir stóriðjuhölda. Mér fannst flott hjá mótmælendum að hlekkja sig við vélarnar. Slíkt skemmir ekkert, tefur framkvæmdir og sýnir að mótmælendur eru ekki bara meinlausir kjúklingar sem hægt er að hunsa. Að ætla mótmælendum einn dag til að taka niður búðirnar er svívirðilegt. Þetta er aðeins stærra batterý en svo að það verði gert si svona. „Hafa þessir menn ekkert betra að gera?” spyr Jón Kaldal í Fréttablaðinu í gær. Þá spyr ég: Hafa fréttamenn ekkert betra að gera en að hæðast að mótmælendum sem vilja ekki sjá landinu rústað, gríðarlegu fé er eitt í þetta dæmi, kapítalið fer aðallega út úr landinu, útlendingar verða mest að vinna þarna, við þrælakjör. Þessu eru mótmælendur tilbúnir að berjast gegn og munu vonandi halda áfram af efldum krafti. Á sama tíma hæðast menn að þeim, sömu menn og hafa ekki hreyft litlafingri til að sporna gegn eyðingu náttúrunnar, og er eflaust skítsama um hana. Auðvitað var varla séns á að geta stöðvað aðgerðirnar við Kárahnjúka, og varla margir sem bjuggust við því. Þetta var fremur fordæmi, til að láta áljöfra finna að þeir eru ekki velkomnir og við munum ekki láta þá komast upp með áframhaldandi framkvæmdir án baráttu.

    29. júlí 2005