WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Armed and masked Polish border guards boarded a Greenpeace ship as it was trying to block a delivery of coal to the port in Gdansk, arresting activists and seizing the vessel, the environmental group said Tuesday.
Greenpeace said its activists had been holding a “climate emergency protest” to push Poland to phase out its heavy dependence on coal, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming.
Marek Jozefiak, a campaigner with the group, said that the ship’s captain and one activist remained detained, along with the tall ship, the Rainbow Warrior. He told The Associated Press the border guards were armed and broke a window to get inside. Video footage from Greenpeace shows the armed men breaking a window to get into the captain’s bridge and shouting that everyone should drop to the floor.
Jozefiak expressed “surprise” at the scope of the border guards’ action against what he called a “peaceful action in defense of the environment.”
Jozefiak, who is coordinator of Greenpeace’s Climate and Energy campaign, said that for several hours the activists on board the Rainbow Warrior and in smaller boats had blocked a shipment of coal from Mozambique from entering the Gdansk port. They had painted “Stop Coal,” as well as “Poland Beyond Coal 2030,” and “No Future in Coal’ on the cargo ship’s side.
Polish border authorities said that eighteen activists were brought to their local headquarters on Monday night. They said 22 people in all had had their documents checked and that two – the captain, a Spaniard, and an Austrian activist – remain detained on allegations of having violated safe seafaring regulations. Prosecutors will decide whether they can be released.
The statement said the action was held after the captain repeatedly refused requests to let border guard controllers aboard.