22 april 1933 Nuuk – 4 april 2014 Qaqortoq
Finn Lynge passed away in the South of Greenland aged eighty. We not only lost an extraordinary man. He was an exceptional Greenlandic world citizen, advocate for the environment and the indigenous rights and a man who saw the big picture.
He visited the Netherlands many times to participate in sessions of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Inter-national Whaling Commission, to give lectures, and in the last years in relation to the Earth Charter in which he actively participated. He tried to get other Greenlanders involved in the Earth Charter and brought in Narsaq Agenda 21 in practice.
He made the Greenlandic government aware of the exhibition of human remains in the West-Frisian Museum in Hoorn, The Netherlands which claimed these belong to a Greenlander. Do to investigation by the Greenlandic government it became clear that the remains are not from a Greenlander.
Since we met in Echternach, Luxembourg, in the nineteen eighties, he has learned me a lot. We often discussed the developments around the so called seal issue. The last years he got tired fighting against the import ban on skins of seals (now even a ban on all products of seals). This ban has enormous impact on Inuit in the Arctic who depend on the hunt on seals. But in the EU there is little understanding. Everyone who fights for animal rights should read his book Arctic Wars, Animal Rights, Endangered Peoples (1992).
Finn was a teller of many anecdotes. Once a friend and I met him in the streets of Helsingør and visited him. Finn showed my friend his bone of a walrus penis. My friend earned one point by recognizing this. After that came an auditory ossicle of a whale. Another point. Then came a hair of a mammoth …
Then there was the repeated anecdote about kasuutta (cheers) and op je gezondheid (to your health), which are pronounced in a similar way, which is perhaps explained by the Dutch roots of whalers and traders visiting the west coast of Greenland in the seventeen century before priest Hans Egede landed near Nuuk on a “Dutch” vessel in 1721.
Besides The Hague and Brussels we met mostly in København, the last time in 2010 during the presentation of a new book. In 2008, when he became 75, I was present at his symposium in Narsaq. From there, he went to København and we travelled together, but no place to sit together. So during the whole flight from Narsarssuaq to Kastrup we stood in the isle in the middle of the plane discussing as Finn wrote: “our common efforts to understand our own time”.
I will miss his inspiring talks and hope that his legacy will live on. I wish a great deal of strength to Rie, family, friends and the Greenlandic community.
Govert de Groot, Arctic Peoples Alert