To Hell and Back to Save the Arctic
by Meena Hussein
Camila Speziale is a Greenpeace activist from Argentina on the Arctic Oil Tour.
This morning at 4 a.m. I hugged my fellow climbers good luck before heading out to climb Gazprom's oil platform, the Prirazlomnaya, from the Arctic Sunrise.
It was a terrifying moment for me as I jumped into the inflatable boat in total darkness; I knew the Russian Coast Guard was waiting for us. They had been on our tail since Monday, watching our every move, and I could see the huge water cannons in the distance. But we had a mission and we were determined: to stop the worlds first oil from being produced from ice-filled Arctic waters.
It didn't take long to reach the platform and when I did, two of the climbers had already managed to get a line up so we could start our ascent. Before I had a chance to scale the platform, two boats headed towards us from the Coast Guard vessel, with people wearing military camouflage clothing and balaclavas. It felt like I was living through a horror movie as they rammed into us. My fellow climber, Sini, fell into the water. Sini looked scared but I know she's incredibly brave I admire her so much. We rescued her from the water but they made it extremely difficult for us by continuing to ram our boats.
[caption id="attachment_20232" align="aligncenter" width="600"]
The Russian Coast Guard threatens nonviolent Greenpeace activists.[/caption]
Amongst all the commotion I heard a gunshot. They were shouting at us in Russian so I couldn't understand what they were saying but they were pointing guns and knives at us so I knew they were threatening us. All we could do was raise our hands and explain that we were here to protest peacefully. Then I heard another shot. I was so scared for myself and everyone in the inflatables but I was particularly scared for my two friends on the line. Sini, who had managed to get back onto the rope was in a vulnerable position and Kruso who had made it up quite high was being pelted by the water cannons. I never imagined in all my life I'd be threatened with a gun, especially when doing a peaceful non-violent Greenpeace protest.
Half an hour on and the guns were still being fired into the air and water. Sini and Kruso were still taking the brunt of the water cannons it looked so heavy on their heads. After some time they decided they couldn't go on any longer and started their descent. But the workers on the platform didn't notice or didnt listen they carried on firing the water cannons at them and the coast guards started pulling their ropes so they'd land in their boat.
They took my friends without saying a word and headed back to the Coast Guard ship. My heart stopped for them. The gunshots continued and I wondered how far these people were willing to go to stop us from protesting against Arctic oil.
I'm back on the Arctic Sunrise where I am safe and warm. But my heart is with my friends and I won't be happy until we're all back together.
The Coast Guard has threatened to open fire on the Arctic Sunrise if we don't leave the area. I don't know what tonight or tomorrow will bring but I do know that we're here to stop Gazprom producing the world's first oil from the icy waters of the Arctic.
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