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Date: Thu, 18 Feb 1999 23:35:44 -0600 (CST)
From: Mark Graffis <ab758@virgin.usvi.net>
Article: 55336
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.2384.19990219121616@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

Inuit chief fears whaling war with Greenpeace

By Peter Starck, Reuters, 18 February 1999

NUUK - The indigenous Inuit people living in the Arctic might soon face yet another fight with environment group Greenpeace, the leader of an Inuit lobby said early this week.

Aqqaluk Lynge, President of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) grouping indigenous people in Greenland, the United States, Canada and Russia, told Reuters he feared a possible Greenpeace initiative could destroy non-commercial whaling, an important source of food for many Inuits.

The ICC has obtained what it calls a confidential Greenpeace memorandum, which indicates that the green lobby may aim to portray whaling nations as environmental criminals before the newly established world court.

Such a campaign could bring the whale issue to a new level of world concern and completely destroy all scientific and indigenous whaling, the document said.

If it (the memorandum) is authentic, another fight is going to be started. We are afraid of a new war against us, Lynge said in an interview.

He recalled how campaigns in the early 1980s by Greenpeace and animal rights groups had nearly wiped out the Inuit seal hunting tradition.

Enrolling famous figureheads such as former French actress Brigitte Bardot, the lobbies managed to convince the United States and European Union governments to impose still existing bans on seal product imports.

Lynge said the Inuit had never used the cruel seal hunting methods employed by settlers in Newfoundland.

Our economy that was dependent on using the living resources, our possibilities to develop our own production and using the animals that are actually not threatened by extinction were completely destroyed, he said.

Greenpeace visited the Arctic later in the 1980s and expressed regret over the impact of its campaign, Lynge noted.

But that does not help when a traditional hunter has lost his skills and cannot feed his family any more, he said.

Environment policies in the Arctic should not be dictated by far-away governments lending their ear to influential green terrorists and extremists, but instead draw on the experience of the indigenous people, Lynge said.

We have lived here for thousands of years as guardians of the environment. We don't need city people to tell us how to live up here and what to do with our environment, how to use our living resources, he said.