Arctic 30 – 50 days of injustice in their own words

As we reach 50 days of detention of the Arctic 30, here is a collection of their tweets and letters, telling their story in their own words.

Russian Security Services Seize Arctic Sunrise. 09/19/2013 © Greenpeace

“BREAKING: Helicopter hovering above Arctic Sunrise, rope dropping down. We think the Coast Guard is boarding us. #SaveTheArctic” — @gp_sunrise, 19 September

“Russian authorities onboard with guns. They are breaking into the comms room now. #savethearctic” — @gp_sunrise, 19 September

“Latest from the deck: Crew are sitting on their knees on the helipad with guns pointed at them. #Savethearctic” — @gp_sunrise, 19 September

“This is pretty terrifying. Loud banging. Screaming in Russian. They’re still trying to kick in the door #savethearctic” — @gp_sunrise, 19 September

Arctic Sunrise Deckhand Alexandre Paul. 08/28/2011 © Nick Cobbing / Greenpeace

“It’s been over a month now that the “special forces” dropped by helicopter took over our ship at gunpoint. Quite a terrifying moment I must admit, surreal, out of an action movie.” — Alexandre Paul, 27th October to Greenpeace supporters

Frank Hewetson Bail Hearing At Murmansk Court. 10/15/2013 © Dmitri Sharomov / Greenpeace

“Murmansk, being the final destination of the heroic Arctic convoys in WWII does not seem to have cleared the harbour of sunken wrecks, abandoned submarines and decomposed nuclear ice breakers. All this was observed by planting my face against a porthole on the Arctic Sunrise as we were towed into port under armed guard.” — Frank Hewetson, 27th October to Independent on Sunday

“When we were taken off the ship to be arrested we were escorted by the coast guard ship and then by a bus. It felt like a scene from the cold war. It was dark. The bus was old and smelt of metal – I could taste it in my mouth. We were driven through a series of derelict buildings. There were more guards than there were of us. I was scared.” — Alexandra Harris, 10th October to James Lorenz

“The hardest moment was the first night in prison – none of us knew where we were or what conditions the detention held, or whether we would be separated, left to navigate the unknown alone. Being shown to my cell and introduced to a couple of strangers was frightening, to say the least.” — Kieron Bryan, 27th October to Sunday Times

“The only sky I can see is out of my cell window, which is placed in the northern wall of the building. This means no sun at all.” — Marco Weber, 8th October to everyone

Marco Paolo Weber Bail Hearing At Murmansk Court. 10/21/2013 © Igor Podgorny / Greenpeace

“The cell is about 8m long, 4m wide and 6m high. I spend 23 hours a day in here with nothing but the occasional book and my thoughts.” — Kieron Bryan, 27th October to Sunday Times

“We’re allowed to leave our cell and walk for one hour each day. We’re locked in what can be described as an outdoor chicken pen. It’s horrible. But yesterday I saw that someone had scratched ‘Save the Arctic’ into the wall. It made me laugh.” — Alexandra Harris, 10th October to James Lorenz

“The highlights are weekly visits of my lawyer and consul. And yesterday I got the first bunch of email from the outside! Yehaa…” — Marco Weber, 8th October to everyone

“It’s very cold now. It snowed last night. The blizzard blew my very poorly insulated window open and I had to sleep wearing my hat. I’m nervous about spending winter here. I have a radiator in my cell but it’s the Arctic breeze that makes the place very cold. I heard that from December Murmansk is dark for six weeks. God, I hope I’m out by then.” — Alexandra Harris, 13th October to family

“There’s a bit of excitement tonight as we have kindly been provided with what I think is a chess set. My two colleagues were only too keen to get started and casually asked how many traveller’s cheques I normally travel with.” — Frank Hewetson, 27th October to Independent on Sunday

Faiza Oulahsen Bail Hearing At Murmansk Court. 10/18/2013 © Dmitri Sharomov / Greenpeace

“Considering the circumstances I am doing well at the moment. Once in a while a rat crawls across the floor. Lost weight and don’t sleep too well, but I am still holding my head high.” — Faiza Oulahsen, 18th October to Dutch journalist

“I finally saw a few of the letters people have sent me. It was so nice I cried.” — Alexandra Harris, 13th October to family

“It was good to have a conversation in English face to face today, the Embassy guy told me Spurs drew with Chelsea. 10 points from 15, that’s not a bad start! It’s odd because I had tickets for that game.” — Kieron Bryan, 3rd October to brother

“Once it was clear we weren’t in physical danger you adapt to the [blank] regime and its [blank] severe limitations. Now, the difficulty is the silence and ignorance imposed by our detention – there isn’t a moment I don’t think about my family, how they’re coping or what the world thinks of our situation. Any shred of news, or kind message that filters through the layers of bureaucracy is clung to – knowing my friends and family are fighting for me, doing whatever they can to help, is my source of strength and comfort. I owe them all so much.” — Kieron Bryan, 27th October to Sunday Times

“Life is settling down to a daily grind where the merest opening of the peep hole from outside causes a ripple of excitement from within. One of my cell mates has been transferred to another which means only one chain smoker.” — Frank Hewetson, 8th October to Greenpeace UK

“Sundays also mean it’s revolting meatball night! Yuk! The girls laughed that I knew the food schedule already. But we got a shower today so that’s good. The shower is like a waterfall. It’s nice.” — Alexandra Harris, 13th October to family

“After 3 weeks you learn which of the meals you can stomach and which go down the toilet, as soon as they’re slopped into your stainless steel bowl. The lunch soups (apart from the fish) are ok, I make the effort to eat them. So, with some surprise, I saw my cell mate take a generous portion of chicken from his bowl and throw it in the bin. I looked at him and made a quizzical face – he smiled and asked ‘What?’ I said ‘Koora (chicken), good Kharosho [presumably the cell mate’s name?]!’ He laughed, pointed at the discarded carcass, steaming in the bin, and said ‘Nyet koora… coo coo.’ As he cooed, he flapped his arms like a bird. I didn’t understand until he pointed to the window sill, where a group of pigeons were always gathered. When I looked back at him, he was holding an imaginary rifle towards the rodent with wings, making firing noises. Laughing, he pointed to the birds and then to my bow[l]… ‘Niet koora!’ No, not chicken, needless to say, the pigeon soup is now firmly in the in the ‘down the toilet’ category.” — Kieron Bryan, 27th October to Sunday Times

“I’m worried about what’s going to happen. I have moments of feeling panicky, but then I try to tell myself that there’s nothing I can do from in here and what will be will be so it’s pointless worrying. But it’s hard. Surely my future isn’t rotting in prison in Murmansk?! Well, I really hope it isn’t.” — Alexandra Harris, 13th October to family

“Being in prison is like slowly dying. You literally wish your life away and mark off the days. It’s such a waste of two months and I really hope it’s no longer. Saying that, I am getting used to it. I’m doing a bit of yoga. I find it hard to meditate, though – too many worries on my mind as I’m sure you can understand.” — Alexandra Harris, 13th October to family

Sini Saarela, At The Leninsky District Court Of Murmansk. 09/26/2013 © Igor Podgorny / Greenpeace

“I spend a lot of time looking out through the window when the sun shines, it makes me think of all of you supporting us, it makes me happy and makes me smile. When it is snowing, I think about the Arctic, the sea ice, the beautiful nature up here, and it gives me strength, it gives this all a meaning.” — Sini Saarela, 15th October to Greenpeace

“We still manage to have a giggle, which is quite good under the circumstances. We all received this metal device to heat water – for days I thought it was curling tongs. When I complained to the girls that the support team could have sent me something more practical than curling tongs, they laughed so much.” — Alexandra Harris, 13th October to family

“I dance every day in my cell and am already familiar to the Russian pop music. During our ‘walks’ I jump around the concrete box and the guards laugh at me. I stretch and sing (luckily the walls are thick). (…)” — Sini Saarela, 15th October to Greenpeace

“My friend Camila [Speziale, 21 years old, Argentinean] is in the cell next door so we tap on the wall in beat with the music. We’ve just been tapping to ‘everything’s gonna be alright’ in Bob Marley’s no woman, no cry. I really hope it will be alright. As Ana Paula told me, ‘you can’t give up hope – it’s the only thing we’ve got’.” — Alexandra Harris, 10th October to James Lorenz

“I still have hope, I have to, that keeps me going.” — Faiza Oulahsen, 18th October to Dutch journalist

“I heard the Arctic sunrise mentioned on the radio the other day. It was in Russian so I couldn’t understand it but it’s great to know the world is talking about us. On a good day I get to see my lawyer and hear news of protests all over the world. You wouldn’t believe the difference the news makes. It really makes me feel better and I thank every single person who has joined a protest or sent an email. If there’s one good thing to come of this horrible situation it’s just that – the world is talking about Arctic oil and I’ve played a role in that. That’s why the 30 of us are here.” — Alexandra Harris, 10th October to James Lorenz

“It is only because of questions from media that I have to grapple with the question whether I regret the action. The exciting question for me is ‘Why don’t I regret it?’ It is my conviction that protecting the Arctic and reducing our CO2 emissions is very necessary for preserving the livelihood of future generations. I believe that we as a global collective can succeed in making these measures happen, it doesn’t leave any room for doubt or regret.” — Marco Weber, 28th October to Swiss paper

“Let’s save the Arctic and with it also the chance of future for mankind. Your support and the knowledge that we have done the right thing keeps me above water.” — Marco Weber, 8th October to everyone

David Haussmann Bail Hearing At Murmansk Court. 10/14/2013 © Dmitri Sharomov / Greenpeace

“I can’t put it anymore simply than “thanks”. Some of you I know, some I’ve heard of, some I’ll never even meet. Your kind thoughts, support and humor mean a lot to me right now, it is the simple things in life. Definitely time to stand up, speak up and be heard.” — David Haussmann, 13th October to everyone

“Of course there are always moments of powerlessness, loneliness or doubt, at times like these I have to watch out not to lose my way. But I do feel all the support that is there for us. This support from family, friends and Greenpeace and all other supporters gives me the chance to relax and takes away the feeling of needing to be on my watch all the time.” — Marco Weber, 28th October to Swiss paper

“I’m a different person now; stronger. I cry less, which is a good thing. And I’m so appreciative of life. I will not take anything for granted now.” — Alexandra Harris, 13th Oct to family

“We need you. We need people to write to their governments, to the Russian embassies. Tell them this imprisonment is unfair and illegal. [Tell them we are not pirates.] Ask your leaders to support Holland’s legal action on Russia, demanding the release of our ship and crew. Inform yourself at your local Greenpeace offices and groups about upcoming protests/marches. Sign petitions and get your friends and family to sign them too. Greenpeace is only but a word, the people behind it that is our strength. Always remember to do so in a peaceful way. We have nothing against Russia, as a matter of fact; we did this for them and their children.

“And me, I’ll do my part. I’ll stay strong, I won’t despair. I will keep the Faith. For a better world.” — Alexandre Paul, 27th October to Greenpeace supporters

Esther Freeman is a campaigner at Greenpeace UK.

via Greenpeace news http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/arctic30-50-days-of-injustice/blog/47268/

One thought on “Arctic 30 – 50 days of injustice in their own words

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