Alexandra Harris, activist aboard the Arctic Sunrise and member of the Arctic 30, has been in a cell in Murmansk for more than a month on charges first of piracy, and now of "hooliganism" in response to their non-violent protest against Arctic oil drilling. In an emotive letter to her parents quoted in The Guardian she wrote that "Being in prison is like slowly dying. You literally wish your life away and mark off the days." The following is a letter from her friend and colleague, Amrekha Sharma.
I'd emailed you about three weeks ago to see if you wanted to catch up at the Opera Bar when I got back to Sydney, and thought it was really unlike you not to reply right away. Two days later, the news came that you were aboard the Arctic Sunrise, and it was seized by the Russian Coast Guard. It knocked the breath out of me. Not knowing if you were alright for those days while the ship was towed to Murmansk was nerve wracking; I was checking Twitter like some kind of addict.
I cannot imagine how surreal, scary and difficult the past few weeks have been for you. Seeing your face on placards from Argentina to London and Delhi on the global day of action was when it hit me that you were there, in jail, and that this could drag on for some time. And at the same time, it gave me hope. I wanted to hug every one of those people.
I'm thinking about you everyday. You know what comes to my mind lately? It seems like another era now, but a few months ago, on one of those typically clear and beautiful Sydney evenings, we were sitting on the patio at the Opera Bar, sharing a bowl of their decadent potato wedges, people-watching, chatting away.
And somehow we got onto the topic of how we each managed to get to Greenpeace of all places. I remember you telling me about your year of backpacking around the globe, seeing South America, the Middle East,South East Asia, and the way it changed you. The way, the more you travelled, the more you saw of the planet, in all its beauty and fragility, the more precious it became, and the more important it seemed to protect it against those who would harm it.
We both found our way to Greenpeace along similar paths; the more we travelled, the more the entire world became home. And it's crazy to destroy your home, whether it's your favorite beach, or the Arctic.
We were accidental activists before we felt comfortable owning the title; surprised, leaning into it, and humbled that we got to do this with whatever talents we could bring and with other passionate, intelligent and inspiring colleagues who felt the same way.
I'm still checking Twitter for news first thing every morning. Please know that over a million people all around the planet, people you've never met, in many of the places you have visited and loved, are calling for your and the rest of the crew's release. You won't believe how hard our colleagues in offices all over the world are pulling together, marshalling all their efforts so you can all come home as soon as possible. You'd be proud.
If I know anything about you, I know you're stronger than you think.
Stay warm, take care of yourself, and I will see you soon.