INDIA : PROTESTERS ARRESTED

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INDIA : PROTESTERS ARRESTED

 user 2006-05-16 at 11:26:00 am Views: 66
  • #15456

    India: Turtle protesters arrested
    New
    Delhi, India — Bearing witness to the mass murder of Olive Ridley
    turtles can cost you dearly in the strange world we inhabit. 12
    Greenpeace activists were arrested in New Delhi this morning, for
    having brought evidence of turtle mortality from Orissa to Delhi. In
    stark contrast, the person responsible for their deaths, Chief Minister
    Naveen Patnaik, was respectfully escorted to his vehicle by Delhi
    police, after he had made the appropriate sound bytes to news
    cameras.Three turtle carcasses lay on white sheets, surrounded by the
    sun-bleached bones and skulls of several others. Two large banners, in
    English and in Hindi, make it quite clear to passers-by that the Chief
    Accused for the death of the Olive Ridleys in Orissa is none other than
    the Chief Minister of the State.
    How much evidence do you need?
    We’ve
    camped at Orissa for four months at the Turtle Witness Camp, bearing
    witness to thousands of dead turtles washed ashore this season. We’ve
    seen, up close and personal, the maggot-infested carcasses of turtles,
    pregnant female turtles lying dead with their precious hoard of eggs
    laid open to predators and adult male turtles lying forlornly on shores
    that they usually never return to once they’ve left as hatchlings.
    We’ve
    gone to the Chief Wildlife Warden, and recreated a graveyard at his
    doorstep, asking him what he has done to prevent these deaths.
    Surprisingly, he responded by saying that his department had neither
    the expertise nor the infrastructure required to adequately protect the
    turtles.
    We’ve even put together the “I Witness Report” , personal
    testimonies by the many people who have visited our Turtle Witness
    Camp, interlaced with the shocking results of the monitoring and
    documentation we’ve carried out over the last few months.
    Raising a stink.
    Remember
    the scene from The Point Of No Return where Maggie stands over a human
    body dissolving in an acid bath and, unflinching, mutters “I never did
    mind about the little things.”
    That scene was re-enacted this morning.
    If
    facts and figures don’t rattle a Chief Minister, Greenpeace figured,
    perhaps the sight and smell of Olive Ridley turtles in various stages
    of decomposition would. For once, we were proven wrong. Naveen Patnaik
    was able to smile suavely at cameras, neatly sidestep both the
    carcasses and the uncomfortable questions posed by our activists, and
    mouth platitudes like, “The turtles are the pride of Orissa and over
    the past few years, we have sensitised the local community towards the
    need to protect them.”Unmentionable is the fact that it takes something
    more than a sensitised community to defend the turtles. Something like
    spending the Rs.1 Crore (Rupees ten million) that Naveen Patnaik’s
    government received towards actually protecting the turtles .”It’s time
    the Chief Minister woke up to the urgency of the situation. He can no
    longer evade his responsibility for the annual turtle genocide in
    Orissa,” said Ashish Fernandes, Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace India.
    “The evidence is before us – the state’s failure to protect this
    endangered species could well result in the total collapse of the
    turtle population. He needs to take action, and do so now!”
    Three Greenpeace activists booked under Wildlife Protection Act.
    Of
    the 12 Greenpeace activists arrested at this morning’s action outside
    the residence of Orissa Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, three have been
    booked under the Wildlife Protection Act, and will be held overnight at
    the Tughlaq Road Police Station. Activists have been accused of
    violating the Wildlife Protection Act by transporting carcasses of
    Olive Ridley turtles from Orissa to Delhi, while, as they pointed out,
    those responsible for the deaths of these turtles are allowed to go
    scot free.Greenpeace reacts strongly to the decision to book
    environmental activists under an act meant to protect the very
    interests that motivated the activists to confront the Chief Minister
    today.
    “Given that the Chief Minister has abdicated his
    responsibility to protect the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles, we
    consider him to be in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act,” said
    Ashish Fernandes. “It is shocking that officials of the law choose to
    prosecute those who take action to uphold the law, instead of those who
    flagrantly violate it, or those abusing their positions of
    responsibility.”Over 100,000 Olive Ridley turtles have died in the last
    one decade in Orissa, and as Greenpeace has pointed out, this is
    particularly ironical at a time when the United Nations marks 2006 as
    the International Year of the Turtle.