Arctic 30: Colin Russell's Release is Wonderful But the Ordeal is Not Over

  • Rate this Story
  • 0
  • 0

By Sara Ayech | December 3, 2013 1:47 AM EST

Arctic 30 activist Colin Russell during a hearing in St Petersburg [Reuters].

The release of Colin Russell on bail last week was the news that many around the world had been waiting for. Colin was thrilled to be released with the other 27 activists and two journalists who were detained by the Russian authorities for over two months. His wife and daughter have now arrived in St Petersburg, and obviously they're delighted to be reunited with him.

But this is a long way from being over. The activists are in comfortable conditions; Greenpeace have hired rooms in a comfortable family hotel for all of them, and there's space for them to relax, talk, and be with visiting family. But it goes without saying that they'd prefer to be able to leave Russia and return home to their lives.

We don't know how long they'll be forced to stay in St Petersburg. There is not yet clarity on bail conditions. We hope soon they will be allowed to leave Russia, and also hope that the hooligan charges against the Arctic 30 will be dropped, although there is no guarantee of this.

Our stance is rooted in the firm conviction that these activists, and journalists, were there to shine a spotlight on dangerous oil drilling which would jeopardise the environment and people who live there. We feel their stance demands applause, not prosecution. The Arctic Sunrise, our ship, was in international waters, and we believe it was boarded illegally by armed security forces.

Given these conditions, we believe the charges of hooliganism - a violent crime - are ludicrous. Greenpeace are not violent; none of the Arctic 30 behaved violently. We have a 41-year-old history of non-violence. The language of the hooliganism charge is of disrespect to society, yet the Arctic 30 is not against society; the protesters' desire to protect the Arctic was rooted in their concern for society and for the planet we live on.

We have sent a petition to Russian embassies around the world asking for freedom for the Arctic 30, and so far close to 2.5 million people have signed it. We're hoping that Russia listens to so many people around the world, and also that they abide by the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, which last week decreed that Russia should release the vessel and all the detainees on it.

People around the world are supporting our cause. They understand the Arctic 30 were peaceful activists and journalists, standing up to protect the planet. They realise the pristine Arctic needs urgent protection from oil drilling which would destroy it, endangering the wildlife and people who live there. They are shocked and appalled at the response by the Russian authorities, which could mean seven years in jail for a peaceful protest.

Greenpeace respects the law. We are prepared to face proportionate, reasonable charges. But the charges against the Arctic 30 are trumped up and disproportionate.

With this in mind, we will keep campaigning to get our people home. To ensure they are reunited with their family and friends, and the ludicrous charges against them are dropped. Quite simply, nothing short of this outcome will suffice.

Sara Ayech is a climate & oil campaigner at Greenpeace UK and an active reporter in her own right. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Greenpeace strives to defend the natural world and promote peace by investigating, exposing and confronting environmental abuse, and championing environmentally responsible solutions. To find out more about the group and its work, click here.

To contact the editor, e-mail:

  • Rate this Story
  • 0
  • 0
This article is copyrighted by IBTimes.co.uk, the business news leader

Join the Conversation

IBTimes TV
E-Newsletters

We value your privacy. Your email address will not be shared.