October 18 marks one month - 30 days - since the Arctic 30 were arrested for a peaceful protest in Russia against oil drilling in the Arctic. All 30 individuals were charged with piracy - a very serious crime in Russia that carries a prison term of up to 15 years. The bail appeals for 10 activists have been rejected in the last few days by the court in Murmansk, where the activists are being held in prison.
Today marks “30 days of injustice” for the Arctic 30 and Greenpeace is holding solidarity actions across the globe together with partner NGOs, celebrities and supporters. In Bangalore, supporters gathered at Freedom Park, formerly the Central Jail, for a demonstration to free the Arctic 30.
Support has been pouring in from around the world with thousands of people taking part in protests and signing petitions to free the Arctic 30. Almost 15 lakh people have sent emails to Russian embassies across the globe asking for freedom for the Arctic 30. Last week, the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff ordered her top diplomat to probe Russia over the fate of Brazilian Greenpeace activist Ana Paula Maciel, one among the Arctic 30. Hillary Clinton expressed her concern about the fate of the Arctic 30 and said that here should be “a real outcry” over this case. Even President Putin’s Human Rights Advisor, Mikhail Fedotov, urged prosecutors to drop the piracy charges. On October 11, he said to the media in Moscow, “These charges are laughable because there isn’t the slightest justification for accusing the crew of the Arctic Sunrise of piracy.”
October 17, 11 Nobel Peace Prize laureates including Archbishop Desmond Tutu wrote a joint letter to President Putin supporting the Arctic 30. In their letter, they urged President Putin “to do all you can to ensure that the excessive charges of piracy against the 28 Greenpeace activists, freelance photographer and freelance videographer are dropped, and that any charges brought are consistent with international and Russian law.” Describing the Arctic as a “precious treasure of humanity,” the signatories are all supporting efforts to protect the High North from oil exploration and climate change.
The Arctic 30, who are from 18 different countries, have been detained in Russia since September 18 and 19 after two activists attempted to climb the side of an oil platform, operated by Russian energy giant Gazprom, to hang a banner. They were stopped at gunpoint by Russian Coast Guards and soon all activists and crew from the Arctic Sunrise were also arrested, that too from outside Russia’s territorial waters.
Greenpeace, a 40-year-old environmental organisation, has been campaigning against drilling for oil in the Arctic for a number of years and is now exploring all avenues to secure the release of the Arctic defenders. On their continued incarceration, Greenpeace International Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo says, “Those 30 brave men and women are in jail on trumped up charges, they are prisoners of conscience. They are there not because of what they did but because of what they represent. They are there not because of Russian law but because they made a stand against vested interests. Greenpeace does not think it is above the law, but those campaigners are not pirates, even President Putin says so, and every day they remain behind bars is an affront to the basic principles of justice.”
Take a look at what oil drilling can do to the fragile Arctic region and why Greenpeace has been demanding that a global sanctuary be created around the North Pole where offshore drilling and destructive industry is banned. To help free the Arctic 30 and support Greenpeace's Arctic campaign visit the website
Images and text courtesy of Greenpeace India