Archbishop Tutu’s letter asking Russia to free Greenpeace activists – 16 October 2013

Mr Mikhael Ivanovich Petrakov
Ambassador of Russia to South Africa
PO Box 36034
16 October 2012

Dear Mr Petrakov

The detention of Greenpeace activists

I write to you with regard to the group of Greenpeace activists and freelance journalists – collectively known as the Arctic 30 – who have been detained in Russia after a protest against plans to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Greenpeace has a proud record of engaging in critical and courageous actions to highlight areas where human greed and recklessness are at odds with the sustainability of the earth we share.

As global warming causes Arctic ice to vanish at unprecedented rates, oil companies are venturing into ever more northerly waters, prospecting for more of the fossil fuels that are the cause of the melt in the first place. The consequences of an oil spill in these fragile seas, home to rare animals and vital to the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples that have lived here for millennia, would be catastrophic. The threat the Arctic faces demands that urgent action is taken to protect it.

This is not just an Arctic or a Russian issue. The impacts of global warming will be most keenly felt in the developing world, in relatively poor countries where the people will be unable to afford to mitigate the impacts of the change on their lives. I applaud Greenpeace for bringing the issue of the exploitation of Arctic resources to the attention of the world.

I add my voice to the many others calling for the immediate release of all detainees, as well as the Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise. I urge your government to seriously consider Greenpeace’s plea – made in the interests of all people across the world, including citizens of Russia – to ban oil drilling in the icy waters of the Arctic.

God bless you.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu