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Dramatic Footage of Russian forces storming Arctic Sunrise

Greenpeace video shows 'Arctic 30' being arrested after activists’ attempt to board Gazprom oil rig

The scene could have been from a fast-paced action flick — a helicopter hovers over a ship out at sea, a rope is flung down to the deck, masked gunmen drop down...  Except, the gun-battle or violent action sequence that should have followed, doesn’t. The protestors standing on the deck simply stand around with their hands up in the air, waiting to be arrested.

Greenpeace International today released dramatic, previously unseen footage of the Russian security forces boarding and seizing control of the environmental outift's ship, Arctic Sunrise, following a group of Greenpeace activists’ direct action protest attempt.

The activists had tried to board the massive oil platform, the Prirazlomnaya, in the Russian Arctic, in the early hours of September 19, in order to hang a banner from the platform protesting oil drilling in the ecologically fragile Arctic region. (Read Greenpeace-USA executive director Phil Radford’s account of the incident here.)

Nations like Russia and Iceland, and oil giants like Shell Oil, are pushing to scale up oil drilling in the Arctic, while the climate scientists are going blue in the face trying to convince governments and people that we need to scale back our fossil fuel use.

The footage of the Russian forces’ takeover, shot on 19 September, also shows the ship being towed towards Murmansk, Russia where the 30 people on board are still being detained. The activists were charged with “piracy,” though charges against them have now been scaled down to “hooliganism.” As of today, they’ve spent 52 days in captivity.

Arctic Sunrise Photo © Will Rose/Greenpeace The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise entering the Northern Sea Route off Russia's coastline on
its way to protest against Arctic oil drilling.

"As you can see on the video, it appears to us that the Greenpeace International crew are clearly displaying non-resistance. They are doing their utmost to signal their peaceful intention and the best way to do that is to show yourself in full, with raised arms. They are not the actions of hooligans or pirates, as the authorities allege," Vladimir Chuprov, senior campaigner at Greenpeace Russia said in a statement accompanying the video’s release.
Russia has so far snubbed calls to set the activists free. Yesterday Russian officials failed to show up at a hearing on the issue by the  International Tribunal of the Law of Sea, a UN-mandated court based in Hamburg, Germany, becoming the first state in history to ignore the Tribunal outright.

More than two million people have written to the Russian government asking the activists be released. You can add your voice to the demand here

Maureen Nandini Mitra, Managing Editor, Earth Island Journal.Maureen Nandini Mitra photo
In addition to her work at the Journal, Maureen writes for several other magazines and online publications in the US and India. A journalism graduate from Columbia University, her work has appeared in the San Francisco Public Press, The New Internationalist, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, The Caravan and Down to Earth.

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