My name is Christine Clinckx and I'm living in Belgium.
I went on board of the MV Enif on Thursday, the 20 th of June 2000, knowing there was 1700 tons of illegal logged plywood from the Brazilian rain forest on board, for the building market of England, Germany and Belgium. Because the wood on board was illegally taken from the forest we wanted to persuade the captain to bring the wood back to the local cooperatives in Brazil for them to use. That's why I let myself down at the bow of the ship, to prevent the tugboats to lead the ship into the harbour, after I secured my rope 2 times, with two different anchors with rope protectors, etc....
I have been climbing for almost 10 years now, so I know what I was doing, since I know all the equipment and the safety instructions for climbing.
By means of a friendly protest I introduced myself to the crew, while hanging down on a rope at the bow of the ship. My first contact was with a white male in a uniform. He lend over the railing and started yelling at me that I was a pirate, that I had to leave the ship immediately. So I introduced myself: "Hello, my name is Christine I'm a volunteer from Greenpeace, I'm not a pirate and the reason why I'm here is because I'm making a friendly protest because you have 1700 tons of illegal logged timber on board. We would like the captain to take the lumber back to Brazil and give it to the natives, whom the lumber was taken from". Then the man in uniform started threatening me, saying Greenpeace was mistaken, that there was no wood on board from Brazil, that I was a pirate and that he could cut my rope, because I was a pirate and he didn't care. So I explained him that, If he would cut my rope, I would probably die. Because there was a big metal piece (the bow) of about 5 meters sticking out under the water surface. I said that I would probably fall on this metal, get injured, drown and get into the ship's propellor. So he left and soon an other crew member came (one of the deck hands).
I introduced myself to him as well, to get personal and prevent him from getting aggressive or cutting my rope. I had a nice conversation with him and he was telling me about his family at home, so I also told him about mine.
After a while, when I heard on the radio the ship was not going to unload the cargo, I decided to go up, so the tugboats could safely bring the ship into the harbour. From the beginning there was a good contact through the radio with all the authorities involved, so we fully cooperated for the safety for everyone including the ship and the crew, to find solutions. Because I consider myself as a professional climber for 10 years now, knowing what I was doing, I would never bring the ship nor myself or the crew in any dangerous situation. Therefore I went up the rope and before I got up to the crane, I past a rope from one crane to the other, to prevent them from unloading the ship after all. The ship was brought in by the tugboats safely into an old cruise terminal at Tilbury. I could see a lot of policemen getting them selfes into position. At that time I was on the mast with Ian, a Medical Doctor, and Eduardo, whom is the forest campaigner from Brazil. We secured the mast with ropes, were we were attached for 24 hours, day and night, for our safety, also all the bags with food and water were attached to this ropes for the safety of all the people walking down beneath us.
After a few hours there was a huge police force, consisting of climbing police, water police and land police. I thought they were there to investigate the illegal logged wood on the ship. But after a while I saw that they were not interested in the illegal timber at all and they didn't search nor investigated this at that time. Which is strange certainly when you know that the Malaysian multinational and their holding Amaplak were the cargo was from, have been convicted in court several times together with there third party log suppliers for illegal logging, and this not only in Brazil, but also in Cameroon and Papua New Guinea. So WE turned up to be the criminals instead of WTK Holdings. The police was watching us day and night, with camera's and binoculars. We had from the first moment a very friendly and good contact with the climbing police. They came very late that day in the afternoon and went up the other crane were Chris (genetic engineer), Richard (carpenter) and Jeroen (social worker) were and asked them to get across the other crane where we were sitting, which they did. I think they asked this because the night was falling soon and for the police it was probably easier to have all of us on one spot, for different reasons, like communication etc...
The first night we constructed a shelter from the banners because it started to rain and the wind was very cold and strong. The only thing we had to eat where muesli bars, some cookies and a tiny bit of cheese, since we were not equipped to stay longer than 1 day. There were no sleeping bags, there was only 2 litres of water per person...We had to hold each other to be able to sleep because it was so cold, still we would wake up every 10 minutes, shivering. Everybody was attached to the ropes, so we were safe. The Brazilian press called Eduardo all night long, (because it was morning in Brazil) for interviews. In the morning the climbing police asked us if they could bring a telephone up, for the good communication, which we agreed. They gave us hot tea, which we were very grateful for, considered the cold rainy weather. We also had long conversations with the police about our situation on the crane; we explained them that safety always comes first, that we were attached to ropes day and night. They explained us what would happen if we got down from the crane, how and why we would get arrested. And they were very friendly.
We decided to build a new, better shelter on the other side of the crane against the rain and the wind, because there was a storm coming. We heard good news on the radio, that 6 or 7 wood buyers from WTK Holdings ended there contract and they didn't want this wood either, so we were not sitting here for nothing. Also the Brazilian television appeared at the gates, and Eduardo had a interview with them on his telephone. It appeared to be a hot item in the Brazilian media. Our friendly protest was on every cover of the newspapers in Brazil. It was also a big issue because earlier that year Mr. Branco from IBAMA, the government whom give out the concessions to the wood companies, explained to the media that there was corruption, and that 80% of all the logging in Brazil is illegal, that there were concessions given to companies that didn't exist and that even his signature was forged a few times. Already an area as big as France has disappeared, every day an area as large as a football field is logged. Not only there are thousands of animals and (native) people living in this woods, they are also searching for medicines against Aids, Cancer and Leukemia. But the forest gets logged faster than the researchers can find medicines. Even Tony Blair during the G8 top had promised that the UK will tackle illegal logging and pursue the other big industrialised countries to do the same. Still the G8 countries remain the largest importers of wood products which come from areas were illegal logging is commonplace.
After the first night Eduardo and Ian decided that they couldn't stay anymore because of the cold and since Ian was following a course as a medical doctor and had exams on Monday, were he had to study for. Eduardo, not used to the cold weather in England went down in the afternoon of day 2. I was on the telephone with the police for safety guiding Eduardo and Ian down from the crane. When we wanted to get a supply bag up with blankets for another cold night and some food, the police cut the rope. I was upset about this. If they couldn't give us blankets to sleep under, (it was extremely cold) we didn't need the telephone neither. So we let it down again, after Eduardo and Ian were safely down.
In the afternoon I came to the terrible conclusion that I had my period one week to early. Normally I'm always on time, and I knew this protest was taking a lot of effort from my body, since I have lost 4 kilos one that crane. I was drinking as less as possible, because I was the only girl, and I always had to ask all the boys to go out of the shelter (also when it was raining, day and night), to have some privacy. When I discovered about my period, I cried, because this was the worst thing that could happen, and there were no tampons or anything. Richard asked me if I was ok, then I said I was not, and explained to him what had happened. He was going to ask on the radio for hygienically tissues or anything. There was a safety boat from Greenpeace into the water near the ship day and night and they went to get some. But when they returned with something that in my eyes is very needed, and essential for woman, the police said "no, she can't have it". It made me feel totally powerless, but it also gave me strength to not to fulfil their hopes of me coming down. I also had the strength to continue because I new that the Deni -Indians, a very traditional tribe whom are living in the forest, are going to be driven away from there houses soon, because WTK holdings is going to log the area were they live, and this was nothing compared with my little problem. Although, I'm very clean, always. I think denying a woman the most essential hygienic tools is a terribly rude thing to do.
So, another cold night came, without blankets and with a diet of muesli bars. We tried to invent all kind of things like toothbrushes, games etc... to make our lives easier and time go by. After the 3th day, everybody became very quite, and was sleeping most of the time, because of lack of food and sleep during the night. I taught myself to do aerobics every morning, weather or no weather, to prevent my muscles from getting stiff, tied with a rope to the side of the safety lines we made earlier. Chris and me were always singing and dancing , also attached to the safety rope to get warm or make the time pass by. We were still sleeping all curled up, in couples of 2, like spoons in a box because it was so cold. It was the third night that we were sleeping 10 minutes and then wake up because we were shivering from the cold. If we only could get this blankets up! I once asked the climbing police for blankets, but they refused again. It is amazing how well we got along, because everyone was getting exhausted, because of lack of sleep, food and warmth. I was glad there were wet-wipes, although everyone was laughing with them in the beginning of our stay. Everyone became more and more filthy, we were also using the banners as a cover for the night but later on also during the daytime. Because the temperature didn't raise during the daytime because of the strong, cold wind and the rain. The banners were painted with green water paint, that made that Jeroen and Chris, who were using them, were completely green. Then I chased them with the wet wipes, which became a joke afterwards.
The fourth day, there came a court injunction, so we had to pay a lot of money if we stayed any longer on the ship. Then we decided to come down, were we got arrested and brought 2 by 2 in different police vans. When we got in the police station I asked immediately for a shower, and I was so glad there was a bag with food and water, because I extremely hungry and thirsty. They were very friendly, and we fully cooperated with everything they needed, all the samples they wanted and everything else. After the examination the doctor said I was exhausted and dehydrated . Even two days after our relieve I was still shivering from the cold. Even now, while I write this, I still have problems to eat because my stomach shrunk, and I'm trying to eat to get the 4 kilos back. I didn't succeed so far but I'll keep on trying.
I would like the court to consider that the company WTK Holdings and Amaplak have been convicted many times in the past for illegal logging. That we made a friendly protest and we all gave a big human psychological and physical input to let the people now that these ancient forests should remain. photo's