The outrage is huge. The worries about the crew of the "arctic sunrise" are even greater. The greenpeace ship was seized by russian security forces, the crew arrested under threat of armed force and the ship taken to murmansk.
"I know the now imprisoned greenpeace captain pete wilcox from my time on the rainbow warrior II", explains greenpeace activist helmut wesolek from gehulz. His worries are great, because the greenpeace activists are facing charges of piracy. Russian laws provide for up to 15 years imprisonment for that. 20 of the 30 activists are currently in pre-trial detention for two months. Greenpeace is demonstrating against the authorities’ actions in front of russian embassies around the world – including in berlin.
"That is already violent", wesolek is deeply touched by the events. Especially since it was an action in international waters. Of course wesolek knows that two greenpeace activists wanted to demonstrate for the protection of the arctic on the drilling rig. When they tried to climb up the platform, the russian coast guard had fired sharply past the activists into the sea, just beside the greenpeace inflatable boats, he said. "The environmentalists had only wanted to peacefully point out the danger of oil drilling in the ecologically sensitive arctic and the consequences of climate change", wesolek explains.
The gehulzer is currently in hamburg in the german greenpeace headquarters. In a conversation with timo liebe, who heads the arctic campaign for germany, he learned that of the 30 crew members, eight are russian citizens, while the others come from nine different countries, including france and the USA.
Highly sensitive area
the arctic is a highly sensitive area that is in danger, wesolek emphasizes. Two natural gas companies want to drill for oil in the icy waters. Greenpeace, however, is committed to the protection of the arctic. Possible oil accidents would have catastrophic consequences there. Because of the low temperatures, there are hardly any bacteria there that can break down oil. "In the arctic ocean, consequences would be truly incalculable."
Greenpeace activists are not doing any harm, they just want to demonstrate and set an example, wesolek defends the action: "so that the public can see what is happening there. If greenpeace didn’t care, natural gas companies like this could do whatever they want – and others would follow suit, wesolek is sure.
Antarctica, for example, has been declared an international protected area. For 50 years there is a guarantee not to lift any mineral resources. Greenpeace now wants to achieve the same for the arctic.
The russian reaction to greenpeace’s action is now completely disproportionate for wesolek. "This is probably an attempt to stifle any further possible protest." fear is stirred up that demonstrators could disappear behind bars for years.
Worldwide vigils are now being held in front of russian embassies. More than 150,000 people have already sent e-mails to russian ambassadors. Wesolek personally wrote to the russian ambassador to germany. He therefore asked the russian ambassador and the russian government to consider that he was not against russia, but strongly advocated international environmental protection.
Wesolek expects german and european politicians to work hard to ensure that this violation in international waters is condemned and that the activists do not end up in siberian prison camps. "We never know how we will be treated in such countries. I would not like to stick in their skin, explains the gehulzer. Wesolek recalls incidents in canada, for example, where completely exaggerated reactions are to be expected.
The activist is now asking people to sign the greenpeace petition. "The more people campaign for it, the more it will be acted upon", wesolek emphasizes.