The news this past week for the Arctic 30--the 30 people aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise when it was illegally seized in international waters by armed Russian authorities--has been grim. All 30 have been charged with piracy, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years under Russian law. This despite the fact that the charge has no basis in Russian or international law. Even Russian president Vladimir Putin has said “it’s completely obvious they’re not pirates."
Among the Arctic 30 are two Canadians: Paul Ruzycki from Port Colborne, Ontario, and Alexandre Paul from Montreal, Quebec. They, along with the rest of the Arctic 30, have been refused bail. Appeals have been filed against this decision, but for now Russian authorities seem set on holding them until their next trial date, two months from now. As you can imagine, friends and family have been reacting with shock and deep concern for their loved ones.
In response Greenpeace is organizing a global day of action for tomorrow, Saturday October 5, to protest the continued detention of the Arctic 30 and the completely unwarranted and irresponsible charges of piracy that have been laid against them. There are more than 140 vigils and other peaceful events happening around the world tomorrow, including four in Canada (see below for details!).
One positive note though, amidst the harsh and disturbing repression of peaceful protest, has been that we have not lost sight of what the Arctic Sunrise was protesting when it was seized: offshore Arctic oil drilling. Oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean is an extremely dangerous activity because it will lead to increased global warming and risks catastrophic oil spills. Paul, Alexandre, and all the activists on board the Arctic Sunrise were there fighting for a green and peaceful future for us, our children, and all future generations.
I urge you to do what you can to support the Arctic 30, and attend a vigil tomorrow if one is happening in your area. As Kumi Naidoo said, "they made their stand in the interests of us all. Now we must come together and stand with them." Below is a photo of Paul’s neighbor. We should all follow her lead. The Arctic 30 stood up for her and for us. Now it’s time we stand up for them.
Join us to #FreeTheArctic30:
In Toronto at Nuit Blanche on Saturday, October 5th from 8PM - 11PM for a peaceful vigil in solidarity with the Arctic 30. RSVP here
In Montreal at the MEGAPHONE event on Saturday, October 5th at 7PM to talk about the consequences of our dependence on oil as well as pass on a message of solidarity to the Arctic 30. RSVP here
In Port Colborne, Ontario on Saturday, October 5 at Lock 8 Park Pavilion, located in the park at Port Colborne, 12-12:30PM.
In Wolfsville, Nova Scotia on Saturday, October 5 at the Post Office on Main Street, 12-1PM.
If you're not in a city with a vigil:
- Send the Russian embassy an email.
- Share the petition on Facebook.
- Write a message of support for the Arctic 30 (or print one), take a picture of yourself with the message, and post it on Twitter using the hashtag #FreeTheArctic30.