Target: Russian President Vladimir Putin
Goal: Ensure the release of peaceful protesters, who are being illegally held by Russian authorities
On September 19th, 25 Greenpeace activists were peacefully protesting oil giant Gazprom’s attempt to drill for oil in the Barents Sea, when they were met with a violent, illegal crackdown by authorities. Members of the Russian Coast Guard approached a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, with weapons drawn. Coast Guard members illegally boarded the vessel, and the crew of 25 was taken captive. Reports indicate the activists are now being held at gunpoint.
Greenpeace has a long history of peacefully protesting environmental abuses at sea, and this month Greenpeace activists set out in the Arctic Sunrise to build on that legacy by protesting Gazprom’s drilling plans. Gazprom is one of the first oil companies in the world to attempt to drill for oil in the ecologically sensitive waters of the Arctic Ocean, and the company has never before drilled in the Barents Sea. This highly productive marine region, which is nestled between Russia’s northern islands and the Scandinavian Peninsula, is home to productive cod fisheries that help sustain the economies of Russia and Norway. An oil spill from a drilling operation in the Barents Sea would be extremely difficult to clean up, and could wipe out areas of vast ecological importance.
On September 18th, Greenpeace protesters attempted to climb a Gazprom oil drilling platform as part of a peaceful protest against drilling activity. Two protesters were arrested, held overnight, and denied access to legal counsel. The next day, Russian Coast Guard boats approached the Arctic Sunrise with guns drawn, fired shots over the ship, and stormed the vessel. Two crew members locked themselves in the ship’s radio room so they could communicate what was happening to Greenpeace offices back on shore. Coast Guard members eventually broke down the radio room door, and arrested these two along with all the other activists.
The entire crew of the Arctic Sunrise is being detained and held by Russian authorities, who are treating crew members like violent criminals rather than the peaceful protesters they are. Sign below to demand Russia release the crew and respect the right to protest at sea.
Dear President Putin,
We are shocked and appalled to hear how Russian authorities have treated the crew of the Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise. Treating nonviolent protesters like criminals and threatening them with violence is no way for a country that values human rights to behave, and firing shots at an unarmed vessel is never appropriate. We, the undersigned, call on you to immediately release the crew of the Arctic Sunrise, and respect the right to protest at sea.
On September 18th and 19th, Arctic Sunrise crew members were conducting a nonviolent protest against Gazprom’s dangerous plans to drill for oil in the ecologically sensitive Barents Sea, a marine environment of international ecological importance. Whether or not you agree with the position of the protesters, this kind of Arctic drilling project is clearly controversial, and it should not be surprising that Gazprom’s activities are being met with acts of protest. Responding to such protests with the threat of violence is simply unacceptable.
The world has been shocked by Russia’s treatment of the Arctic Sunrise crew, and the actions of the Coast Guard do not speak well of Russia’s respect for human rights. Please act swiftly to remedy this situation by releasing the crew members, and affirming Russia’s respect for the right to protest.
[Your name here]
Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr