Aug 10 2008

The Camp is Over – The Fight Goes on

Saving Iceland’s fourth action camp is now over but the fight goes on. This year we stayed on Hellisheiði for three weeks, where Reykjavík Energy is expanding their geothermal power plant, first of all to supply energy to aluminium smelters. We enjoyed the summer in this amazing environment which is now in danger because of the construction. This summer we put a special focus on the global impact of aluminium production, how it is does not only effect Iceland, but the whole world; it’s environment, humans and other species.

This summer’s actions and events were successful. Saturday, July 19th, we stopped construction in Helguvík for a whole day. Norðurál/Century Aluminum has started construction for an aluminium smelter, without all the permits needed. Two days later we blocked the road to Century’s already existing smelter and Elkem’s iron blending factory in Grundartangi. Both times we pointed out the unique geothermal areas which have to be destroyed because of energy production, Century’s corrupted business deals in D.R. Congo, and in Jamaica where the company has it’s bauxite mines. Photos and press release from July 19th can be seen here and from July 21st here.

Sunday, July 20th, we went up to the Þjórsá River to meet farmers who are fighting against Landsvirkjun’s (national energy company) plans to build three dams in the river. We walked around the area, looked at beautiful waterfalls and got to know about the farmers’ fight. Here you can see photos from the visit.

On Tuesday, July 22nd, we organized a open meeting with the Icelandic anti-war movement, where Samarendra Das, an Indian activist, author and film-maker, talked about the aluminium industry’s links to arms production and cultural genocides in the third world. The meeting was well attended, as well as Saving Iceland’s conference which took place in the Reykjavík Akademia the day after, where Samarendra and Andri Snær Magnason, the author of The Dreamland, spoke about the global impact of aluminium production. Thursday July 24th, Samarendra has his third open meetings, this time in Keflavík. Photos from the meetings can be seen here.

Friday July 25th, we woke Friðrik Sóphusson, the director of Landsvirkjun, up and gave him an eviction letter, where we announced that he would have to leave his house in few hours, for the benefit of the Icelandic nation. Landsvirkjun has gone again and again to Þjórsá and knocked on farmers doors, even though the farmers have announced that they will not take any part in further discussion about the dam constructions. By promising better mobile connections, better roads and money, Landsvirkjun has managed to get the district councils on it’s side, but luckily the farmers are strong enough and refuse to discuss any further. Photos and press release can be found here.

Later that morning Saving Iceland showed up in Landsvirkjun’s headquarters and stopped work, e.g. by setting on a fire alarm, while a group of people occupied the entrance, danced and sang. A banner saying ‘Illvirkjun’ (bad dam) was hanged over the company’s real logo on the house. Landsvirkjun’s links with Alcoa was our main focus point, where we specially put focus on Alcoa’s human rights abuse in it’s factory in Honduras. Click here to read the press release from both of the actions and see photos.

Monday, July 28th we stopped all work on a drill in Hellisheiði. A group of people turned off the power of the drill while others locked themselves to machinery and climbed on to the drill house. As well as the destruction of unique geothermal areas on Hellisheiði, we pointed out Reykjavík Energy’s corrupted business deals in Yemen. Click here to see photos and read our press release.

Our last action took place Friday, the 1st of August, when we stopped traffic to Rio Tinto-Alcan’s aluminum smelter in Hafnarfjörður. Activists locked themselves to gates and therefor stopped trucks from getting in to the smelter area. We pointed out the corruption which is taking place in Hafnarfjörður and Rio Tinto-Alcan’s links with arms production and warfare. Photos and press release are here.

During the week of July 21st – 28th, several international solidarity actions took place in Swiss and Italy, in front of Icelandic embassies and the headquarters of Alcoa, Glencore and Imregilo. Info and photos from Italy are here, Alcoa here, Glencore here and Icelandic consulates in Swiss here.

Aside the camp we released the 2nd issue of our magazine, The Voices of the Wilderness, which can be read here. The magazine has is full of photos and articles, written by Saving Iceland activists, our friends from all around the world and Icelandic farmers.

Our focus on the international process and impacts of aluminium production was really effective; brought a lot of media attention and discussion into the society. Saving Iceland is the only Icelandic environmental group which focuses on the global context and that fact was pointed out be several different environmentalists and MP’s this summer. Different medias wrote and spoke about bauxite mining, it’s impact and aluminium company’s links with human right abuse. This is a real success, but there is still a lot of work to do and therefore we keep up the fight against the development of heavy industry in Iceland and around the globe, wars and arms production, human right abuses and cultural genocides in the third world.

4 Responses to “The Camp is Over – The Fight Goes on”

  1. mmmm says:

    Hi…. I think i speak for all icelandic people when i say, we wont be missing you. Your not stopping any of the construction that is going on in iceland. Your slowing them down but by the end of the day the work gets done.

  2. Sigurður says:

    Yes it is hard to stop ongoing projects but we have to build up enough pressure to take future projects off of the drawing board. Many people are still not aware of the scale of the destruction and how many plans there still are, and also what is happening outside of Iceland with bauxite mining and refining which has a big impact on the natural environment and displaces many people from their land. So the actions have also highlighted that a lot. I think that is very important so I for one do not agree with you.

  3. Malcolm Hawkins says:

    Dear Saving Iceland,

    Well done for the protest camp and its media coverage.
    When I first submitted a comment to Saving Iceland about building dams I never thought the energy companies would try and repeat this again. But, to think that the home of possibly the oldest parliament system, (Althing), would become so corrupted as to allow these companies to destroy such a marvellous wilderness is heartbreaking. The use of Icelands geothermal energy should be used to the benefit of all Icelanders and not to line the pockets of industrialists.


  4. Magga Dorasdottir says:

    Hmmmm – remember the French Revolution? The American Revolution? These things take some time. Have patience and remember who you are.

    Bless, bless,
    Magga Dorasdottir