This is only the beginning

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Feature Story - 19 December, 2013
After two months in jail, a new amnesty bill passed by the Russian government will halt legal proceedings against the Arctic 30.

Camila and Phil of the Arctic 30

Phil Ball and Camila Speziale of the Arctic 30 - © Dmitri Sharomov / Greenpeace

While this is a relief for the the Greenpeace activists, who spend two months in jail after a peaceful protest, this is not the end of their battle to save the Arctic. As Pete Willcox, the Captain of the Arctic Sunrise, said: “We may soon be truly free, but there’s no amnesty for the Arctic. We may soon be home, but the Arctic remains a fragile global treasure under assault by oil companies and the rising temperatures they’re driving.”

Tasmanian Colin Russell, who was the last of the thirty to receive bail, expressed relief at the news after three months of detention, saying: "I'm really relieved now. There's been no light at the end of the tunnel. I still feel as though I haven't done anything wrong and we were illegally taken in the high seas, international waters. So all that still stands as far as I'm concerned."

Colin Russell with his family

Australian Arctic 30 member Colin Russell and family - © Dmitri Sharomov / Greenpeace

Manly resident Alexandra Harris, who works with Greenpeace Australia Pacific in their Sydney office, said: "It’s strange that we are being forgiven a crime we didn't commit. But I am relieved and looking forward to moving on with my life. I will continue the battle to save the Arctic, I feel more committed than ever. This is not over yet, it’s only the beginning.”

Alex, Faiza and Camila of the Arctic 30

Alex Harris, Faiza Oulahsen and Camila Speziale of the Arctic 30 - © Dmitri Sharomov / Greenpeace

Although by accepting the amnesty the Arctic 30 are not admitting guilt for a crime they don’t believe they committed, the implications of the amnesty on the Russian members of the group are not clear.

Sini Saarela, an activist from Finland, said: “Of course I feel relieved, but I’m also worried about my Russian friends who might suffer consequences from this, if they get a criminal record for a crime which none of us committed. The Arctic is still facing the same threats, this decision will not give mercy to the Arctic or people suffering from the climate change.”

We cannot stop until dangerous Arctic oil drilling ends. If you haven’t yet signed on to our Save the Arctic petition, help honour the bravery of our Arctic 30 heroes by signing up today.