'We don't test bombs in France'

Wednesday, July 3, 1991

Story and photo by Steve Painter

SYDNEY — Paddler for peace Sharon Gibson spent an anxious hour trapped between a French warship and the pier at Garden Island dockyard on June 24.

Sharon exchanged friendly banter with the crew after her kayak got stuck during a protest by about 40 paddlers against a visit by the frigates Balny and Commandant Birot. She eventually climbed up onto the pier, where she was arrested and verbally abused by naval police before being removed from the premises and released.

The protest was against French nuclear testing in the Pacific. "We don't test bombs in France and they shouldn't do it in the Pacific", said Sharon at another protest outside the dockyard on June 26.

The protesters were angry that crew on the French ships turned fire hoses on them during the June 24 protest. The protest on June 26 forced authorities to change plans to throw the ships open to the public. Instead, only invited guests were allowed on board. United States ships now visit Hobart instead of Sydney following an open day at which protesters went on board and had discussions with US sailors.

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