As you might remember, in Issue 7 of Grapevine we interviewed Ólafur Páll Sigurðsson, one of many people who protest the building of the Kárahnjúkar dam project. We gave him a forum to express himself, at length, to the public – something no one else in the Icelandic media had done. At the time, he was just another protestor on his way to a campsite situated in part of the vast area that will be flooded by the Kárahnjúkar dam project. All that changed last month when he, Arna Ösp Magnúsardóttir and British environmental activist Paul Gill were arrested for disrupting a meeting of industrialists at Hotel Nordica and splashing the attendees with green skyr. The two Icelanders were released within 24 hours, but Gill remained in custody for days afterward. On 1 July, Gill was sentenced to two months’ probation. He has since left the country.
The skyr-throwing incident got plenty of coverage, but no one, it seemed, bothered to ask Mr. Gill what the reasoning behind the action was. So we decided to give him the same opportunity to express his side of the story that we gave Mr. Sigurðsson. We sent Paul Gill an interview request, and here is the response he gave us:
“I must respectfully decline your invitation for an interview. I firmly believe that direct action should speak for itself- in fact its very definition is that it is action that achieves its own end, not that is a means. In relation to events at Hotel Nordica, the intention was to disrupt the aluminium conference and deliver an unequivocal message of “fuck off” to the gathered industry executives. As far as I am concerned: Mission Accomplished- I feel no need to explain myself further.”
In other words, creating a discussion on the issue surrounding the action, educating people on the different aspects involved in the issue and gaining the sympathy of the public are all unimportant, in Mr. Gill’s mind – the only thing that matters is the action. That might explain why the only thing anyone could talk about was the action, and not the reasons for it. Excluding the public from the discussion regarding the Kárahnjúkar dam project in much the same way Landsvirkjun would do, Paul Gill and the skyr-throwing incident have effectively held themselves back from achieving their own goals.
In related news, eighteen people were arrested last Tuesday at the Kárahnjúkar work site for preventing workers from returning to their jobs after their lunch break. A few of them chained themselves to work trucks. As we listened to the news report on the radio, the very first sentence from the reporter’s mouth was, “Eighteen people – most of them foreigners – were arrested today at the Kárahnjúkar work site.” Of course most of the people involved were foreigners. We all know only a handful of dairy-tossing nutjobs object to flooding vast swaths of Europe’s largest wilderness. Thank you, Mr. Gill.
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