30 days of injustice: a wall of solidarity in South Africa to free the Arctic as part of the worldwide protest

Press release - October 18, 2013
Johannesburg, 18th of October 2013 — Over 300 people in Johannesburg, today stood in solidarity with the Arctic 30 as they face their 30th day of detention by Russian authorities. This event is part of a global day of solidarity with nearly 10,000 people taking to the streets at more than 100 events in 36 countries to call for their immediate release.

Hundreds of protesters, students and others Joburgers signed a petition in support of the Arctic 30 and added their painted handprint onto a banner, as a symbol of solidarity for the detainees, standing against injustice and for the right to peaceful protests.

“It is now 30 days since our ship was seized and our 30 friends and colleagues were arrested. They now face a charge of piracy — an absurd charge that carries a maximum 15 year jail sentence.

“The Arctic 30 were standing up for all of us, defending a fragile environment and a climate in crisis, and now we must stand with them. Their detention is an attack against every single person who has ever been willing to raise their voice to demand a better future for themselves and their children. Now these 30 people are prisoners of conscience and we are all responsible for their fate.” Said Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director.

A wide range of international figures from politics and civil society have now voiced concerns about the Arctic 30, including President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil who spoke out last week demanding their release, and German chancellor Angela Merkel who spoke directly to President Putin.

In South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has personally called for the release of all detainees. “I add my voice to the many others calling for the immediate release of all detainees, as well as the Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise. I urge your government to seriously consider Greenpeace's plea - made in the interests of all people across the world, including citizens of Russia – to ban oil drilling in the icy waters of the Arctic.” Tutu is one of eleven Nobel Peace Prize winners to take a stand behind the Arctic 30 [1]

A letter sent to the African Ministerial Conference of the Environment, yesterday by Michael O’Brien Onyeka, Greenpeace Africa Executive Director, urged the participating states to call for “the piracy charges to be dropped and for the immediate release of the 28 activists and two freelancers who have been detained by Russian authorities in Murmansk”[2]

Last month, 28 Greenpeace activists, and a freelance photographer and a videographer, were charged with piracy by a Russian court following a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling at a Gazprom oil platform in the Pechora Sea. If convicted, the offence carries a maximum 15 year jail term. The Murmansk Lenin District Court ordered that the ‘Arctic 30’ could be detained up until at least November 24th whilst allegations against them are investigated by the country’s authorities. Lawyers acting to defend the thirty have appealed against their detention.

 

For more information, please contact:

Najia BOUNAIM, Greenpeace Africa: +27 799 304 743,

Notes to the Editor

[1] Archbishop Desmond Tutu

[2] The Letter:http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/Global/africa/publications/AMCEN_October%202013.pdf

[3]For photos http://www.greenpeace.org/africa/en/Multimedia/slideshows/Jozi-stands-for-peaceful-protest-and-to-free-the-Arctic-30/