Here are half a dozen photos and a short video piece from today’s vigil and rally in Ljubljana, Slovenia, demanding the release of the so-called Arctic 30, 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists, who been detained by Russian authorities for the past 17 days. The gathering in the Slovenian capital today was one of at least 140 held in nearly fifty countries in support of the 30 detainees from 18 countries who were arrested after an attempted protest on a Russian oil rig on 18 September.
I had a train to catch so couldn’t stay long; I estimate that about 100 people — demonstrators and supporters milling about, observing or writing letters– were in the central Prešeren Square just before noon.
“It’s extremely important that our brave colleagues, who are currently behind bars in Russia, know that they’re not alone,” said Greenpeace Slovenia representative Dejan Savić in a statement. Members of other local citizens groups and non-governmental organizations —Amnesty International Slovenia and the environmental organizations Umanotera and Focus— also took part to show their support.
Pressure continues to mount on Russia since the incident on 18 September when two Greenpeace activists tried to climb the side of the Prirazlomnaya platform on the Pechora Sea (the southeastern part of the Barents Sea), to hang a banner to protest drilling in the Arctic. Russian coast guard commandos swept down to capture the pair and then took command of their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, the following day. They’ve since been held in custody in the northern city of Murmansk where all 30 have been charged with piracy. If convicted they face up to 15 years in prison.
The Prirazlomnaya platform, owned by the state energy giant Gazprom, is due to begin operations in early 2014 which would make the company the first to drill offshore in the Arctic.
Since the seizure of the ship more than one million people have sent letters to Russian embassies demanding the immediate release of the detainees. Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International‘s Executive Director Kumi Naidoo has called the incident the most serious assault against the organization since the group’s flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, was bombed by the DGSE, the French intelligence service, in 1985.
“The activists were taking a brave stand to protect all of us from climate change and the dangers of reckless oil drilling in the Arctic, Naidoo said in a statement published on the Geenpeace website. “Now it’s imperative that millions of us stand up with them to defend the Arctic and demand their immediate release. Gazprom, Shell and the other oil companies rushing to carve up the Arctic and destroy its fragile environment must see that we are millions and we will not be bullied and intimidated into silence.”
A few more photos:
And, using vimeo’s 5×5 project as a guide –piecing together five five-second segments– here’s a brief bit of video using seven.
Keep up with the hashtag #FreeTheArctic30.