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by GreenpeaceTake action to protect tropical rainforest

After giving the Isola Corallo a farewell paint-job, we've finally taken our leave of Dumai. We did everything we set out to do (and perhaps a bit more), and we've reminded people both nationally and internationally about the problems associated with palm oil production in Indonesia. And as I mentioned in my last post, palm oil giant Sinar Mas has been rattled by our actions and, even though Greenpeace campaigners are now due to meet with their representatives next week in Bali, we're not going to stop exposing the wanton destruction at their hands (and the hands of other companies) of the forests and peatlands here.

This afternoon, we arrived in Singapore which is to be our final destination. This expedition is winding up but don't go anywhere just yet - we have one last task to perform but you'll have to wait for Monday to find out what that is.

In the meantime, remember that poll the Jakarta Post was running about whether our actions were justified? They've published some of the response on their website and apart from one or two negative comments, everyone thinks we did the right thing. Thank you very much if you emailed or texted in - you can go one better and write to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of Indonesia, demanding an immediate end to deforestation in his country.

Tug of war

The Esperanza attempts to slip past a tug as the Isola Corallo comes in to dock © Greenpeace/Rante

I had thought that, after the Esperanza nipped into the berth reserved for the Isola Corallo this morning, we'd have some time to rest (and, in my case, a long shower) and prepare for the inevitable visit by the authorities. It didn't quite work out like that and by mid-morning, events were moving rapidly.

The other ship alongside the dock had departed and was replaced by a big barge which was brought right up to the Esperanza's stern to hem us in. With the Corallo preparing to come in (the request for a pilot to guide the ship in had been picked up over the radio), it became clear that the port authorities were preventing us from moving up the berth.

Standing on the mooring line © Greenpeace/Novis

There was little option but to pull in the mooring lines and attempt to move the Esperanza around the barge. A sizeable crowd had gathered on the dock and one angry man performed a little direct action of his own by standing on the last mooring line. A couple of the crew tried to persuade him to move but he wasn't going anywhere. The only solution was to cut the line and the ship was free.

However, two tugs were waiting for us and the three ships entered a bizarre, slow-motion ballet - the Esperanza trying to move back alongside, and the tugs pushing us in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, the Corallo was steaming towards the dock and it became a race against time for the captain to evade the tugs and place the Esperanza in the way of the incoming tanker. Nail-biting isn't really the word.

But we were outnumbered and although the Esperanza and the Corallo passed within a few tens of metres of each other, the tugs wouldn't let the ship go and forced us back out into the harbour. So, disappointing that we were unable to continue the blockade for longer, but we achieved an awful lot in the time that we had.

Not least because, apart from all the national and international coverage we've had this week, there has been a sudden eagerness on the part of Sinar Mas, the agribusiness company behind the palm oil shipment we've just been blocking, to talk to our campaigners. Last night, Bustar spoke to Daud Dharsono, president director of Sinar Mas: when challenged about the deforestation his company is perpetrating, his response was, "It's only a small area."

However, Dharsono has agreed to a meeting at next week's meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, but he has been promised that we won't halt our exposes and actions until Sinar Mas publically backs a moratorium on deforestation in Indonesia. (Don't forget, you can write to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, president of Indonesia, to demand a moratorium as well.)

Cutting the mooring lines © Greenpeace/Novis Speaking of which, two inflatables laden with paint recently left the Esperanza, bound for the Corallo. I just checked through the binoculars from the bridge and the water is raining down from hoses on the Corallo's deck, but the hull has 'Forest Crime' and 'Climate Crime' written across it.

See original blog item: Greenpeace blog, Nov-15-2008  
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