Exactly 25 years ago yesterday, Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira died while launching one of the most ambitious protests planned in modern history.
Pereira, 35, who was a crew member on the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, was planning to go to the Moruroa atoll in the Pacific Ocean to photograph the nuclear tests that were being conducted by the French there and the resultant radioactive poisoning of the ocean. He was killed by two bomb blasts meant to stop the Rainbow Warrior.
While the preliminary evidence pointed to the French secret service’s involvement, it took the country two decades to reveal that its former president Francois Mitterrand had personally authorised the bombing. Meanwhile, under international pressure, the French government paid $8.16 million in damages to Greenpeace in 1987 and stopped nuclear tests in the Pacific for a decade.
Today, Rainbow Warrior II is all set to retire by July 2011 to give way for Rainbow Warrior III, which will primarily sail on wind energy and will include the latest in green technology.