‘Heaps of people’ are expected to attend the Wellington leg of a global day of activities this Saturday calling for 28 Greenpeace activists and two photojournalists to be released from Russian jail cells.
Thirteen Greenpeace activists and a freelance video journalist have now been charged with piracy under Article 227 of the Russian Criminal Code. The maximum sentence, if convicted, is 15 years in a Russian jail.
The remaining members of the Arctic 30, including New Zealanders Jonathan Beauchamp and David Haussmann, are expected to appear in front of the Russian Investigative Committee in the coming days.
The Wellington event will kick off at midday on Saturday outside the Russian Embassy in Karori. There will be live music and speeches from the detained activists’ families, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and others.
Amnesty International has demanded that the Russian authorities drop the “absurd and damaging” piracy charges (1). Over 60 other NGOs have issued statements of concern and support including Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, WWF International, Friends of the Earth International, 350, Sierra Club, Reporters Without Borders, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Global Witness.
Earlier today Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said: “A charge of piracy is being laid against men and women whose only crime is to be possessed of a conscience.
“This is an outrage and represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest. Any claim that these activists are pirates is as absurd as it is abominable. It is utterly irrational, it is designed to intimidate and silence us, but we will not be cowed.”
Bunny McDiarmid, head of Greenpeace New Zealand, said: “We’re hoping heaps of people come down to the Russian Embassy this Saturday. Bring the kids, bring a picnic, listen to some music, but also stand up for some brave Kiwis who were trying to protect the fragile and fast disappearing Arctic.”