Those last days on the Arctic Sunrise in September 2013, gave me one of my most precious memories. That might sound odd to you: armed men with balaclavas abseiling down from a helicopter and holding some of the crew at gunpoint; unable to communicate with the outside world, our movements limited to a few rooms of the ship; unaware of the emotional rollercoaster that was lying ahead of us. The towing to Murmansk would take a couple of days, and the Russian Coast Guard had full control over the Arctic Sunrise.
With plenty of time on our hands, forced to do nothing, I tried to make the most of it. I decided to kill time by reading books, playing card games, talking and making jokes with the others. Then one of us got a brilliant idea: ‘let’s make a home-made banner!’.
We’d sailed to Gazprom’s first offshore platform in the Arctic to take action, to protect the Arctic and not to be pulled out of there for 36 hours. Our mission wasn’t over yet.
Stripped from all action and campaign materials, everybody started to gather stuff to make the banner: towels, sheets, scissors and needles. A big banner and small hand banner were made. And to my surprise, despite the limitations, it was the most beautiful Save the Arctic banner I’d ever seen. Before we could actually hang it for the arrival in the Murmansk harbour, the coastguard officers confiscated it. I hope to find it back on the Arctic Sunrise when we welcome it in Amsterdam.
The return of the Arctic Sunrise is the last chapter of the Arctic 30 saga.
But its not the end of the story for the Arctic. Oil companies like Shell are pressing ahead with their reckless drilling, along with a particularly shameless brand of PR, and quite frankly it makes me furious. You’ve probably seen our Lego campaign these last few weeks. The Arctic 30 went out to protect the Arctic for future generations; now here’s Shell trying to poison young people’s minds.
I’m so grateful for all the people that marched and protested for our release, including for the 31st detainee, the Arctic Sunrise. Now I hope you’ll continue to stand by the Arctic until this fragile eco-system is properly protected.
Faiza Oulahsen is a Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace Netherlands.
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