Greenpeace redfaced over calendar

18:39, Sep 04 2014
Greenpeace USA
TOP LEFT: A Greenpeace USA wildlife calendar featured an image of a watering-hole in southern Africa, taken by Rainbow Warrior bomber Alain Mafart.

The Kiwi deckhand who lost a comrade in the 1985 Rainbow Warrior bombing is aghast that one of the French agents responsible for the act has had a wildlife photograph published in an international Greenpeace calendar.

"You couldn't make it up," said Bunny McDiarmid. "And he's got a different name now. Who thinks about what spies do in their second life?"

In a statement posted on its website, Greenpeace USA said that during the production of its 2015 calendar, the calendar's publisher, Workman Publishing, sourced an image from a nature photographer, Alain Mafart-Renodier.

Alain Mafart
FRENCH SECRET AGENT: Alain Mafart was charged with manslaughter in relation to the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.

"It was later discovered that Mafart-Renodier is also Alain Mafart, one of the French military operatives who was involved in the bombing of the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, in New Zealand in 1985."

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Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira died in the explosion which has been dubbed the only act of international terrorism on New Zealand soil.


The ship was destroyed by French bombs in Auckland Harbour on July 10, 1985, just before it was due to sail for Mururoa Atoll to protest against French nuclear testing.

McDiarmid, who is now Greenpeace New Zealand's executive director said "it's one of the completely unresolved cases really where no justice was served, at least for Fernando and his family, and it's kind of upsetting that someone like that ends up being in a Greenpeace commissioned calendar."

The image, of giraffes and zebras in Namibia, was shot by Mafart-Renodier, who is described on the Biosphoto agency website as a photographer who "travels the world for several months every year in search of images of wildlife, flora and landscapes".

"It's kind of tragically ironic - or something," said McDiarmid. "It's wrong and it's upsetting that a picture from someone like this would ever, ever, have anything to do with a Greenpeace publication or anything that's got Greenpeace's name on it."

McDiarmid said contact had been made with Pereira's family, who were mostly Netherlands-based.

"They have been told what our plans are and what we're doing and they're comfortable with how we're responding to it."

She said the error had been noticed by someone outside the US office, "an old hand, someone who is one of the historians. He didn't know if it could possibly be the same person."

Internet research and contact with other photographers confirmed Greenpeace's fears, McDiarmid said.

Greenpeace USA said it "deeply regretted" the error. It had ordered the recycling of the 14,000 calendars in its possession. Workman had distributed a further 19,000 to retailers and had refused a request to recall the calendars, unless Greenpeace paid out US$250,000 ($300,387) for costs and lost profits.

"There was no way to guarantee a complete recall because retailers would not have to comply and some of the calendars would likely have been sold before a recall could take effect," Greenpeace USA said. "We determined that this was not the best use of our donors' money."

The organisation confirmed it had returned all royalty payments, and ended its relationship with Workman.

Greenpeace New Zealand produces its own calendar, independent of the US effort. Its 2015 version, available now, features a tribute to Pereira, marking the 30th anniversary of the bombing.

At the time of the bombing, Alain Mafart was a commander with the French secret service. He and captain Dominique Prieur were the only agents arrested.

They pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and spent eight months in jail before being sent to the French atoll of Hao, where they served 17 months of a three year sentence.

In a later book, Mafart revealed agents had originally tried to plant poison bacteria on the ship in order to make its crew ill. He said they had designed the explosives and placed them in such a way that nobody would be killed and were shocked to discover that somebody was.