Eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates including Archbishop Desmond Tutu have written a joint letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin offering their support to twenty eight Greenpeace International activists, a freelance photographer and a freelance filmmaker who are being detained in a Russian prison whilst they are investigated for allegations of piracy.
In their letter, the award winners urge President Putin “to do all you can to ensure that the excessive charges of piracy against the 28 Greenpeace activists, freelance photographer and freelance videographer are dropped, and that any charges brought are consistent with international and Russian law.”
Describing the Arctic as a “precious treasure of humanity,” the signatories are all supporting efforts to protect the High North from oil exploration and climate change.
They write, “Arctic oil drilling is a dangerous, high-risk enterprise. An oil spill under these icy waters would have a catastrophic impact on one of the most pristine, unique and beautiful landscapes on Earth. The impact of a spill on communities living in the Arctic, and on already vulnerable animal species, would be devastating and long lasting. The risks of such an accident are ever present, and the oil industry’s response plans remain wholly inadequate.
Equally important is the contribution of Arctic oil drilling to climate change. Climate change in the Arctic and elsewhere threatens all of us, but it is the world’s most vulnerable who are paying the price for developed countries’ failure to act.”
The full list of peace laureates who signed the letter are:
- South African Bishop Desmond Tutu
- Northern Irish peace campaigner Betty Williams
- Former President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias Sanchez
- US peace campaigner Jody Williams
- Liberian peace campaigner Leymah Gbowee
- Yemeni peace campaigner Tawakkol Karman
- Guatemalan social reformist Rigoberta Menchu Tum
- Northern Irish peace activist Mairead Maguire
- Iranian lawyer and former judge Shirin Ebadi
- Former President of East Timor Jose Ramos Horta
- Argentine community organiser Adolpho Perez Esquivel
The twenty eight Greenpeace International activists, a freelance photographer and a freelance videographer, were detained following a peaceful protest against the Gazprom Arctic drilling platform Prirazlomnaya on September 18th. They were charged with piracy on October 2nd, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. The thirty are being detained in Murmansk, the largest city inside the Arctic circle.
President Putin himself has said of the thirty people in detention, "It is absolutely evident that they are, of course, not pirates."
The global campaign to free the Arctic 30 has seen 1.3 million people sign onto a petition, and a day of solidarity demonstrations in 250 locations in 49 countries around the world. Seperately, the International Federation of Journalists and the European Federation of Journalists have demanded the release of the two journalist among those in prison. (IFJ/EFJ Condemn Continued Detention of Journalists in Russia)