Monday, September 23, 2013

Ambassador Morozov, please free 30 activists held by Russian authorities

Open letter to Russian Ambassador to Australia, Morozov

On the morning of Wednesday 18 September two activists from Greenpeace International were arrested as they took peaceful action towards Gazprom’s off-shore oil platform Prirazlomnaya, to stop the company conducting oil drilling operations in the Arctic waters of the Pechora Sea. The following day, September 19, the Russian Coast Guard illegally boarded the Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise while in international waters and arrested 30 activists on board at gunpoint. We are demanding the immediate release of all the activists detained and an end to the Coast Guard’s unwarranted aggression against our ship and peaceful protest.

Greenpeace International is in the Russian Arctic to bear witness and express non-violent opposition towards oil companies’ destructive and reckless oil drilling plans. Our peaceful protest was met with extreme and disproportionate force from the Russian Coast Guard, who fired 11 warning shots at our ship, the MY Arctic Sunrise, and threatened our activists with knives and guns. Now 30 of our activists are being held by the Russian Coast Guard against their will and without legal representation.

Today we are conducting a peaceful solidarity protest outside this embassy in support of our activists to demand that they are freed by the Russian authorities. We urge you to transfer our requests to the Russian government without delay.

We ask that you:

- Free the 30 activists who have been detained on board the Arctic Sunrise, and order the Russian Coast Guard to holster their guns and withdraw immediately from our ship.

- Prioritise investigation into the destructive activities of oil companies in the Arctic, and not aggressive intimidation of peaceful protesters.

- Ban offshore oil drilling in the Arctic for good.

The real threat to the Arctic comes not from Greenpeace International but from oil companies like Gazprom. In contempt of the urgent need to protect the Arctic for all life on earth, Gazprom is determined to drill in its remote, frozen seas for more fossil fuels that are warming our planet and melting the ice. In the Arctic an oil spill would be irrecoverable. Such an event would devastate the local environment.

We urge you to transfer these requests to the Russian government in Moscow immediately to assist us in the swift release of our activists from the custody of the Russian authorities, and put a end to the unwarranted aggression and repression of our peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Campbell