New Delhi, 5 October 2013 – More than 350 people across India took part in a peaceful protest as part of a day of emergency solidarity protests around the world demanding the release of 28 Greenpeace activists, a videographer and a photographer. The thirty have been imprisoned in Russia after they were arrested aboard a Greenpeace ship in the Arctic. The activists at Gyarah Murti in New Delhi also unfurled a banner with the message, 'Gandhi stood for peaceful protest - #FreeTheArctic30'
Today's events, across India are just a few of the planned protests that will take place on every continent, in more than 135 cities across 47 countries, from New Zealand to Mexico, from Thailand to Finland and the United States. There are also protests planned across Russia, where there are already protests outside Gazprom's HQ every working day.
In response to the arrest and detention of the Arctic 30 Mahatma Gandhi's great grandson, Tushar Gandhi Founder President Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, said, "On the same day that we celebrated the birthday of my Great Grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi, piracy charges were laid against 30 peaceful protesters from Greenpeace. They are held in jail in Northern Russia and face a potential sentence of 15 years for carrying out a non-violent peaceful protest in the classic Gandhi tradition, against oil drilling in the Arctic. I stand today in solidarity with these peaceful protesters defending justice like my Great Grandfather did and I join in the call for their immediate release. The fragile Arctic is a fragile global commons and should be protected from the destruction caused by oil companies."
On Wednesday and Thursday this week, 28 Greenpeace activists, a freelance photographer and a freelance 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.
Since the illegal boarding of the Arctic Sunrise in international waters two weeks ago, nearly one million people have sent letters to Russian embassies demanding their immediate release. Greenpeace's international executive director, Kumi Naidoo, has described the events in Russia as the most serious assault on the group's environmental activism since the bombing of the organisation's flagship, Rainbow Warrior, in 1985.