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Greenpeace Activists Charged With Piracy In Russia For Protesting Against Oil Drilling In The Arctic

By Greenpeace India

04 October, 2013

Twenty eight Greenpeace activists and a freelance video journalist and a photographer were formally charged with piracy under Article 227 of the Russian Criminal Code on October 2nd and 3rd, 2013. The maximum sentence they might face is 15 years in a Russian jail. They are currently being held in a prison in the city of Murmansk in North West Russia while Greenpeace International lawyers have lodged formal appeals in the Murmansk court against their continued detention.

The 28 Greenpeace activists and the two journalists, now known as the Arctic 30, protested against oil drilling in the Arctic on September 18, 2013 in Russia’s Pechora Sea. Two Greenpeace International activists attempted to climb the side of an oil platform operated by Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom to hang a banner, when they were stopped at gunpoint by the Russian Coast Guard. The activists were protesting against Gazprom becoming the first company to produce oil from the fragile Arctic region. Subsequently, all 28 activists and the two freelance journalists were arrested by the Russian authorities and they have all now been charged with piracy.

Greenpeace International activist Faiza Oulahsen (from the Netherlands) at the Leninsky District Court Of Murmansk

Greenpeace International Executive Director, Kumi Naidoo says, “Our activists have been charged with a crime that did not happen, they are accused of an imaginary offence. There can be no doubt about why the charge of piracy has been brought and the legal hammer wielded. This is an outrage and represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest. An effort is underway to intimidate us, but our peaceful passionate campaign against Gazprom and all other Arctic drillers will not be silenced. A profound injustice is right now being perpetrated against our friends, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters who sit in jail. I call on people across the world to stand with us against Gazprom and all oil companies who want to drill in the Arctic, join us in this fight against bullies of the very worst kind.”

Groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders have called for the release of the activists. Greenpeace has also released a letter written by Faiza Oulahsen, 26, one of the Arctic 30, a Dutch environmentalist currently detained in Murmansk. In the letter, penned shortly before she was charged on October 3, she says: “I have no idea how this is going to end, or how long it’s going to take.” She describes the experience of sitting through hearings in a cage and living in a prison cell that is “ice cold” and where the lights are never turned off. “I started to lose the calmness and self-control I had been using the past couple of days, slowly but surely. Two months in a cell is one thing, but what comes after that? A sentence of a few months or a few years in a case based on lies?”

A Russian Coast guard officer points a gun at a Greenpeace International activist
as two activists attempted to climb a Gazprom oil platform to hang a banner

Greenpeace strongly rejects this extreme and disproportionate charge of piracy against its activists and the journalists. The organisation has been protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic because it destroys people’s livelihoods and the wildlife such as polar bears, narwhals, walruses and other species in this pristine region. The Arctic ice is melting rapidly due to climate change, caused by burning fossil fuels in the first place and it is absurd to drill for more oil here and risk an oil spill that can devastate the entire region.

Currently, over 60 different NGOs have issued statements of concern and support for the Arctic 30, while almost 10,00,000 people have written letters to Russian Embassies worldwide demanding their release. On Saturday October 5th, tens of thousands of people will take part in a global day of solidarity with the Arctic 30. Peaceful events are planned on every continent in well over 80 cities in 50 countries. In India, protests are planned in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore among other cities.

For more information and to show your support for the activists visit,


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