Every act of peaceful rebellion adds up

by Kumi Naidoo

September 19, 2013

Kumi Naidoo (pictured here), Executive Director of Greenpeace International, is part of a team of 6 Greenpeace activists who have boarded energy giant Gazproms Arctic oil platform Prirazlomnaya off the North-eastern coast of Russia in the Pechora Sea. The activists have supplies that will last for several days. Gazprom looks set to begin full commercial drilling operations by early next year, becoming the first ever company to start commercial oil production in the offshore Arctic.

© Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning with my stomach in knots as I scrambled to check my twitter feed and email.

It was five a.m. but I was wide awake; physically in Amsterdam but my heart in Russia where I knew that five of my fellow activists were launching into action at a giant oil rig in the Russian Arctic a rig that Im all too familiar with.

As I scoured through thefirst imagesand read the tweets from theArctic Sunrise, it all came flooding back the crisp, salty morning air on my face as the inflatable zipped along towards Gazprom’s giant rig; the roughness of the rope against my hands as I hung on for dear life; the mean red face of the massivePrirazlomnayatowering over us, the David vs. Goliath metaphor more real than ever before; next to me, Sini’s eyes peering out through the gap between her helmet and scarf, calm and clear and beaming positivity at me.

Watch video footage andview photos of the activity in the Russian Arctic.

Sini is an Greenpeace activist from Finland, and her commitment to the cause runs deep. She is from the Arctic. That was not her first rodeo, and I was grateful for her calm; I found my strength in hers. No surprise then that she was the one to go back today, for round two.

Last August, when Sini and our fellow activists were there in the Russian Arctic, we had nearly two million people fighting alongside us for a sanctuary in the unclaimed area around the North Pole, and a ban on oil drilling and industrial fishing in the wider Arctic. That was just two months after our campaign launched. As I write this, one year later,our movement is just under four million strong.

Thats four million people from every corner of this planet who have come together to say enough; four million people who know that what is at stake here is far too valuable to risk. Who know that an oil spill in this fragile region is all but inevitable.

Having spent 15 hours camped out on the side of that monstrosity a year ago, I can assure you that thePrirazlomnayais hardly an example of modern engineering. This ancient rig was cobbled together from rusting pieces of decommissioned North Sea rigs, which then sat rusting in Russian shipyards for years before being dragged, construction uncompleted, to where it now sits. Even now it remains in disrepair, as shown invideo footageshot by rig workers and uncovered by Greenpeace last week.

Action Against Gazprom's Arctic Drilling. 08/24/2012  Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

Yet in spite of this mounting evidence and its legacy ofdisasters,Gazprom, and this very rig, is soon set to produce the first offshore Arctic oil in the world. Last year the company boasted the same thing, but shortly after our protest, they announced a delay.

That delay and the “pauses” and cancellations bycountless other companieswith similar Arctic ambitions are proof that protest works. Proof that our movement is powerful, that Arctic oil isnotinevitable and that these companies can be stopped.

Right now Sini is on the Russian Coast Guard ship again. She’s a long way from home. She’s probably cold and wet and tired. But she knows, just as I did when I was on that rig, that she is not alone. Everywhere I look, from Istanbul to Indiana, the tradition of civil disobedience is beingreignited.Something is happening. There is a shift in consciousness, the one we hoped would come, where ordinary people everywhere are realising our collective power and acting on it. We’re all part of it.

We can’t all scale a rig. We can’t allchain ourselves in front of a coal trainorlead a revolution.

But wecanall do something.

Wherever you are, you can help Sini and the team and be part of this action by joining the movement, by sharing the photos, or by tweeting your support.

Every act of peaceful rebellion no matter how seemingly insignificant adds up.

Tell the Russian to release our peaceful activists!

Join us.Join Sini, Marco, Camila, Phillip, Tomasz and Anthony. Join me and millions of others around the world. Together we will stop Arctic oil drilling in its tracks.

Kumi Naidoo

By Kumi Naidoo

Kumi Naidoo has served as executive director of Greenpeace International since November 2009.

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