My name is Ana Paula, and I’m one of the so-called Arctic 30 currently held in a Russian jail. Today is one month since they took us from our beloved ship the Arctic Sunrise. I first spent two days in one jail, then three days in another, and now I am seating in this prison where they brought us on September 29th. All of this after a peaceful protest, where we wanted to draw the world’s attention to the risks and environmental harm of drilling for oil in the Arctic.
One month ago our lives stopped - we’re now alone and I have had time to pause and think. And I’d like to ask you, dear reader, how many products made from oil have you been using this month? Oil products are used to make lots of things, and those ‘things’ follow the law of supply and demand. People are eager to consume them. They buy them, use them, and dispose of them – it goes really fast these days. Our planet, the one we call home, the only one that we know has life on it, is at a crisis point, and we need to take action, individually, every day. I believe that they would not be trying to drill in the Arctic if no one used that oil. If we worried more about “being” and not about “owning”, we would use less oil, and the environment will be less at risk. The peaceful protests would not be necessary, and I would not be, unfairly, in jail.
I don’t have words to thank all the people who care about us and are calling for our freedom. I would like to thank especially the Brazilian government, who have shown tireless support in trying to get me my freedom back. Clara Solon from the Brasilian embassy in Russia is almost a second mom for me. She’s been an incredible support in her visits and with her presence in court, providing psychological help and doing everything she could.
I want to tell the world and those who care:
SAVE THE ARCTIC, use less to be more, use reusable bags, turn off the light when you’re not using it, use products with less packaging, use your legs more and your car less. Your mobile phone is not you, it doesn’t say anything about your values, you don´t need the latest, more fashionable one. Recycle, fix what’s broken instead of buying it new, inform yourself. There are so thousands little actions that can be taken every day to save the Arctic, the Amazon, coral reefs, and all the rest. It´s about choosing well what we buy. We are all responsible for make this change happen!!
Promise me you will try. And I will know that this month in jail wasn´t in vain.
With love, Ana.
Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, 23 October to everyone
How are you going? It must be hard for you as much as it is for me? I just hope I get holidays for all this extra time away. We will see! I hope to call you soon to hear your voice – I read your messages all the time honey and they do wrap my heart with warmth and hope. I love you honey as always and it won’t be long and I will be beside you again together and one. I have got myself into a bit of a routine now and it’s sure strange how the time seems to move on. I got some sudokus and I have done them, then because I am old and forgetful I can then copy the numbers into a hand-drawn grid and do them over again – still manage to stuff it up. I asked David to see if I can get heaps more puzzles. They work well for me and as I said the time seems to pass.
It is Sunday afternoon here as I’m writing to you and the snow is falling all the time these days and the days are getting very short. I don’t think I have ever suffered miserable weather like what it can be like here. One day at a time!
Well honey, I have no idea what is going to happen with this situation. There’s a lot of talk, a lot of back and forth and nothing makes sense. All I can say honey is keep the light on in the window because Elvis is coming home tonight! I am getting a good supply of tucker coming in. Plenty of fruit and now I have some egg noodles to add to the soups they serve. It pads it out and I am not sure but I hope adds a bit of protein. It is a high carbohydrate diet and I cannot stomach the fish so that is off the menu for me. I have some sultanas and I brought some milk and tea bags and other stuff from the canteen – I have heard that the pate is good so will get some of that as well. The kettle thing I was given has stuffed up so I have ordered 2 more in case they don’t last long. They are less than 10E so not that expensive. I will get some canned peasant corn as well. I’ll be your strapping young greyhound when I get home. OK my lovely I will close this chapter to you and I do miss you and love you. It’s breaking my heart not to be able to at least hear your voice- won’t be long.
Love you heaps
Xxxoooo – on the nose
Colin Russell, to his wife Christine
What was your reaction to the news that the Russian authorities charged you with piracy?
Utter shock. After we were detained by Russian special forces on Sept 19th I think we all realized the situation was serious: sending armed men in a military helicopter tends to have sobering effects. But the suggestion of piracy made no sense to anyone – Greenpeace is an international organization known for peaceful protest! It was ludicrous. So, to hear in court that’s what we were all being charged with just seemed like a bad joke, totally surreal.
How worried are you at the prospect of being put on trial?
Very worried – despite all the evidence against the notion of piracy, the authorities have continued their investigation without considering us as individuals or any contrary evidence whilst I would welcome the opportunity to defend myself, and to repeat that I am not a member of GP [Greenpeace] but a member of the press, working independently I fear that the arguments fall on deaf ears.
How seriously do you take the possibility of being found guilty?
Whilst I am confident of the group’s innocence, and am assured that I have acted as any member of the press would have done, (in similar situations), it’s asking a lot for us to put faith in the system at the moment. Obviously, if this goes to trial then we will have to trust our legal teams and the courts to judge the evidence. On a personal note; I have to trust that in a democratic country, the legal system will recognize the need to protect reporters, and to allow them to document and report on events neutrally, without fear of legal reprisal. It’s a fundamental tenet of any free society.
I have a good story about the food Mark, it deserves its own space, first a run through.
We get 3 meals a day and a half load of bread. Breakfast is a salty rice/porridge mix, that with an unhealthy spoon of sugar is actually very edible. It is the safest meal of the day.
Lunch is a soup – a rotation of options – a fish stew that tastes like an ashtray full of seawater, a borsch (with no veg), a beef and barley broth and a chicken broth. They all come with potatoes, and little other veg. The soup is followed by a rotation of mains – a macaroni that is clearly boiled from breakfast onwards. It has almost no flavour and even less nutritional value. There’s a porridge type thing made up of oats and a stock of some sort and a fish and tomato mess served with mashed potato. Of all the dishes the fish and tomato mix is the most offensive to the culinary world and taste buds.
Dinner is the same as lunch but without the soup, and occasionally a cold meat faggot (pork possibly) served with mash and beetroot. I know the lack of vegetarian options has been a real problem for some of the group, and if it weren’t for the care packages containing fresh fruit, and other staples, I think we’d all be struggling. No one is gaining weight, that’s for sure.
My story concerns one of the soups – the chicken and potato broth. 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 [Russian for good]!”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.
Currently I am in a cell on my own, though yesterday there were 2 others, and the day before 4. Both cell mates and staff are polite and I don’t feel physically threatened at all. The difficult thing is the total lack of communication – no one speaks English, reducing communication to basic phrases, pointing and drawing. I haven’t spoken to my family by phone in more than 3 weeks and rely on embassy visits and messages from my lawyer to hear any information at all. 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. We are granted an hour a day for exercise, which is held in a shed about 30m from my cell. If I’m lucky I might get to shout a quick hello to an English speaker. Things are looking up however, I received a small chess set and a tourist phrase book to aid me, only a few days ago.
What is your greatest fear at the moment?
There are lots of fears, doubts and worries – existence here is incredibly bi-polar, ranging from the serene, almost fatalistic mindset that I am totally out of control so shouldn’t worry, to blind panic that I will spend 15 years in a Russian prison cell, for a crime I didn’t commit, with people who can’t speak a word of English. 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.
What’s been the hardest thing/moment for you since you came to Russia?
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. Since then life has gotten better – once it was clear we weren’t in physical danger you adapt to the regime and its 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.
Is there a message you would wish to put out there to people around the world?
There are 30 people whose lives have been changed irrevocably, from 18 nations across the world. 28 of those people were standing up for what they believe and 2 journalists were there to report that story. Now, we have to hope the world will support their right to do so, and that Russia will listen.
Kieron Bryan, 27 October to The Sunday Times
Santiago, 10 years Old from Argentina, asking for the Freedom of Camila and Hernan. (and the other 28)
Phil Ball, drawing of cell
Japan’s biggest solar plant now on line: provides enough electricity for 22,000 homes: http://bit.ly/1a7v3i1
Also so they can haz tofu.
mstiffanyyen’s photo on Instagram
Mother of one Canadian activist of the Arctic 30 breaks down at news conference to call on Canadian gov’t to help free them: http://bit.ly/1aLIvr6
Fukushima: Tepco cleared to try scary plans to move spent nuke fuel; the most dangerous decommissioning operation so far in this disaster: http://ab.co/1dqUwo5
Infographic: How climate change will affect global water scarcity by 2100