Activists climb Montreal’s Biosphère in support of Arctic 30

Feature story - November 20, 2013
Greenpeace Canada hung a banner high on Montreal’s Biosphère early this morning as Nicole Paul, mother of one of the two Canadian activists jailed in Russia for protesting Arctic drilling, encouraged them from below.

"I'm inspired by these activists, their courage and their support for my son," said Paul, referring to her son Alexandre Paul of Montreal. "I see people taking peaceful action, shining a light on injustice, just as Alex did in the Arctic before he was illegally detained."

The three climbers, Andreanne Lalonde, Philippe Dumont and David Major, scaled the globe-like structure associated with the Biosphère environmental museum to unfurl a 15 x 10 metre banner calling on Russia to free the Arctic 30, 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists. It reads "Libérez nos activistes #FreetheArctic30.”

Detained on charges of piracy and hooliganism since their arrest on 19 September, 17 of the Arctic 30 were granted bail this week, including Paul Ruzycki of Port Colborne, Ontario. Bail hearings continue for the remaining activists. Alexandre Paul will find out if he is granted bail at a hearing at the Primorskiy court tomorrow, or if his pre-trial detention will be extended three months as it was for Australian Colin Russell on Monday.

“Some of the activists have been granted bail, but this does not mean they are free. From a legal perspective, this is only a lull in the storm,” said Greenpeace Canada Arctic Campaign Coordinator Christy Ferguson. “As long as piracy and hooliganism charges still stand, the Arctic 30 are facing the possibility of long jail terms.”

On Friday the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the Hamburg-based international body responsible for adjudicating disputes arising out of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, will render its decision on the Netherland’s demand for the immediate release of the prisoners and the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.

Ferguson is calling on Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to add his voice to the growing chorus of support for the Arctic 30: “World leaders, Nobel laureates, and human rights leaders are among the two million people calling for an end to the disproportionate and illegal detention of the Arctic 30. The Canadian government needs to break its silence and emphatically support the rights and freedom of Alexandre Paul and Paul Ruzycki."

Ask John Baird to help bring home Paul Ruzycki and Alexandre Paul.