Five Greenpeace activists from the United Kingdom are finally home from Russia. They had been held in a Russian jail for over 100 days.
Phil Ball, Alexandra Harris, Anthony Perrett, Iain Rogers and Kieron Bryan were all given amnesty from charges they received over protesting an Arctic oil drilling. All of the activists were met by family members at a rail station in London and there were emotional reunions.
These five individuals were among 30 people which were held on charges of hooliganism but were then released under a new Russian amnesty law.
The Greenpeace members flew from St Petersburg, Russia to Paris, and then they travelled on to London. At the rail station, Perrett told the press that it felt good to be back and he was looking forward to taking a walk the woods, once he had returned to Wales.
As they stood at the London rail station, the Greenpeace protesters walked from the arrival gates and were met by their families and dozens of reporters with microphones and cameras.
Perplexed travelers watched as the Greenpeace activists swapped between clinging to their loved ones and giving answers about their arrests, what conditions they had to endure, and the strange conditions surrounding their respective releases, similar to the release of the punk rock group Pussy Riot.
Mr. Perrett confessed that he found it hard to believe it was actually happening until the wheels of the aircraft they were flying in hit ground in France. He stated that he might return to Russia but would perhaps alter his demonstrating maneuvers.
Mr. Bryan received a tight hug from his mother who said that Christmas was now back on for their family.
Bryan stated that the prison environment, where they were, was extremely difficult. He talked about being held inside a jail cell for almost 24 hours a day and having to have one toilet without a stall with three other people. He explained how the past few months had been very strange but at least they were over now and it was good to be back home and able to hear and also speak English.
The Greenpeace advocates were asked if what they went through was worth it. They all answered with they are attempting to spread the word about saving the Arctic and with all the news press that showed up here today, they felt they were at least on their way.
Ms. Harris declared that holding the Greenpeace activists in detention was totally obscene. It was a complete over-reaction on Russia’s part.
She added that even though she experienced no physical violence, but they all still endured torture. They had to spend two months in a jail cell in Russia for 100 days for a crime they never even committed. She said that she firmly believes that Russia only allowed them to go to elude global condemnation before the 2014 Winter Olympics being held there in Sochi, Russia.
It is really no coincidence that the Greenpeace activists were released the very same week as Pussy Riot was. The former Russian tycoon and prominent Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky was also let out of prison.
These are all human rights issues and it is hoped that with the Winter Olympics coming up, they will allow the world to put their media lights a bit brighter on Russia.
Greenpeace activist Frank Hewetson, who is also British, was also released and is travelling to another country. Canadian Greenpeace protester Alexandre Paul was expected to arrive in Montreal, Canada later Friday evening. Now eight of the “Arctic 30” group, which was taken into custody in September, has left Russia now.
They were arrested after Russian authorities came on board their ship, named the Arctic Sunrise, while the Greenpeace protesters were holding an anti-drilling rally against an offshore oil rig which was owned by a Russian company.
Greenpeace stated that every member except four Russian members is expected to be out of the country over the next few days. It is good news that the five Greenpeace activists from the United Kingdom have finally made it home safe and sound.
By Kimberly Ruble