The Greenpeace St Andrews group have participated in ‘a global day of action’ to protest against the arrest of activists in Russia.
The group are speaking out against the detainment of 28 Greenpeace activists and 2 freelance journalists (the Arctic 30) who were arrested after a peaceful protest against Arctic oil-drilling, on a Gazprom oil rig in Russia. The activists have been denied bail and charged with hooliganism and piracy and could face up to 15 years in prison.
Greenpeace supporters across the world, including in St Andrews, held the ‘global day of action’ on 16 November at Shell petrol stations, as part of the campaign to free these activists. Shell and Gazprom are involved in an Arctic oil-drilling deal that could be worth half a trillion dollars and Greenpeace feels that Shell could be influential in securing the release of the Arctic 30.
Greenpeace coordinator Margaret Welsh explained: “We are here to protest the detainment of the Arctic 30, who are 28 Greenpeace activists and 2 freelance journalists, who have been detained for 50 days now in Russia for doing a peaceful protest on an oil rig. They have been charged with piracy and hooliganism, which Greenpeace thinks are both highly trumped-up charges.
“The connection with Shell and the reason we are here is that Shell and Gazprom are doing a deal to go into the Arctic to conduct oil drilling, which is what the activists were originally protesting against. Gazprom are the one who are attempting to get them prosecuted in Russia and Shell have the potential to be a real game changer if they speak out.
“The point of the protest is to show Shell that allying with an oil company that crushes peaceful protest is not going to be very good for their image or their brand.”
The group encouraged others to get involved and show their support for the Arctic 30. Ms Welsh continued: “Go online and express your support for ‘Free the Arctic 30’. If you go to greenpeace.org.uk, you can write a letter to the Russian ambassador asking him to help the campaign.”
The detained activists were arrested after their boat, the Arctic Sunrise, was boarded by armed Coast Guards and was towed to the shore. The group had been trying to stop drilling for oil in the waters of the Arctic- an issue which Greenpeace remains committed to fighting against.
A spokesperson for Greenpeace UK said: “The Greenpeace icebreaker the Arctic Sunrise went to the Arctic to expose Gazprom’s reckless Arctic joint venture with Shell. Gazprom had 827 oil spills in 2012, and they are not equipped for Arctic drilling.
Greenpeace are being warned off the Gazprom/Shell drilling programme. We will not be silenced. The Arctic, the climate and the right to peaceful protest must be protected.”