This is not my normal type of post but it is a really, really important cause so I hope you'll read it. You may have vaguely heard about the 'Artic 30' in the news... It was only when I saw my friends posting on Facebook about it I realised that I had a personal link. One of the detainees is Kieron Bryan who is the son of my English teacher and his wife (Andy and Ann Bryan) who both worked at my secondary school in Devon.
Kieron is not even an activist. He is a freelance journalist videographer who was employed by Greenpeace to document a protest against an oil rig in the Arctic. On the 18th of September two of the activists were attempting to scale the Prirazlomnaya oil rig (in a protest similar to this). At some point after this Russian authorities boarded the ship and all 30 of the crew were towed to land and at taken to a detention facility.
By the 29th all had been charged with piracy which carries a minimum ten year sentence in Russia. There was obvious outrage at this sentence: "Pirates do not carry banners and sail around with rainbows painted on their ships. They have guns and explosives."1 This charge has now been reduced to 'hooliganism'. This seems to be pretty unrelated to the previous charge and still carries a five year sentence. Kieron is currently residing in a freezing cold dark prison cell for 23 hours a day only having been able to exchange a few letters with his family and friends.
In one of these few letters home Kieron wrote; "In many ways I'm lucky I don't have children who depend on me, but the fear of losing years of my life and the opportunity to perhaps start a family is terrifying."
Protest (Source: Huffington Post)
A large protest was held outside the Russian embassy directly following the piracy charges which gathered support from celebrities like Dame Vivienne Westwood (above), Jude Law and Blur frontman Damon Albarn.
Following this The National Union of Journalists gathered a petition of journalist's signatures and organised a silent protest last Saturday with the tagline 'Free Kieron, Free Speech: Journalism is not a crime'. As someone working towards a journalism degree this has made me aware of the other issues that this case raises.
Regardless of your views on Greenpeace and their peaceful protests, Kieron was just a hired journalist and not a pirate or a hooligan. If you would like to get involved and spread the word about this injustice I've put links to the various campaign pages and the petition below.
Please get liking, sharing, tweeting and signing. ♥