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Indonesia welcomes Greenpeace ship 3 years after eviction

Indonesia has welcomed Greenpeace’s ship, the Rainbow Warrior, back into its waters for the first time since deporting the vessel in October 2010.

The Rainbow Warrior arrived today in Jayapura, a major port in Indonesian New Guinea, as the first leg of a tour to raise environmental awareness across the archipelago, according to the activist group.

“The Rainbow Warrior is here to raise awareness of Indonesia’s rich yet fragile environment, and to support President SBY’s commitment to protect the country’s forests and to restore our living oceans back to health,” said Greenpeace Indonesia’s Country Director, Longgena Ginting, in a statement.

“Indonesia is home to some of the richest biodiversity spots on earth, but continued land clearance to make way for industrial plantations and overfishing of our country’s oceans are putting this all at risk. We hope our visit will support the political will needed to save this precious part of the world and to add to growing momentum to have the forests moratorium strengthened.”

Papuan Traditional dancers poses onboard the Rainbow Warrior in Jayapura, Papua, Indoneisa, 09th May 2013. © Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

The itinerary will take the Rainbow Warrior from Papua to Jakarta over the next month. The voyage aims to highlight the degradation of Indonesia’s natural resources in recent decades due to overfishing, pollution, deforestation, and peatlands degradation. Indonesia, which is arguably the most biodiverse country on Earth, has lost nearly half of its forest cover since 1950.

The Rainbow Warrior is back in the country less than three years after it was escorted out of Indonesia’s territorial waters by the navy. At the time, it was widely believed that Indonesian forestry interests were behind the move, which came as Greenpeace ratcheted up its campaigns again palm oil companies and pulp and paper producers. Greenpeace’s Indonesian office was subsequently the target of police raids and rent-a-mobs intended to intimidate the group. In October 2011, Greenpeace director John Sauven was denied entry to Indonesia despite having an official business visa, raising questions about the integrity of Indonesia’s immigration agency.

However in recent months, Greenpeace has seen warming relations in Indonesia. In June 2012, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono accepted an invitation from Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo to visit the ship when it returned to the country.

The Rainbow Warrior arrives in Jayapura, Papua, Indonesia, 09th May 2013. © Paul Hilton / Greenpeace

The Rainbow Warrior is the third iteration of Greenpeace’s iconic campaigning ship. The current vessel was christened in October 2011.

Greenpeace Indonesia’s Longgena said the new ship will carry on the legacy established by its predecessors.

“The Rainbow Warrior has been the heart and soul of Greenpeace global campaigning for over 30 years. She’s been raided, rammed, shot at and bombed, but the spirit of the Rainbow Warrior is as strong as ever.”

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