Peaceful protest against Arctic drilling unlawfully ended by Norwegian authorities

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Press release - 17 August, 2017

Korpfjell, Barents Sea, Norway 17 August 2017 – Norwegian authorities have arrested the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, following a peaceful protest in the Barents Sea. The authorities unlawfully ended the activists’ peaceful protest against drilling in the Arctic with seizure of the ship and arrests of all 35 activists and crew members on board. The Arctic Sunrise is currently being towed away from the drilling site, to the mainland in Tromsö, Northern Norway.

Early Thursday, activists on inflatable boats and kayaks entered the exclusion zone of Statoil’s Korpfjell well, Norway’s most northern oil drilling site to date, and attached a giant globe to the rig Songa Enabler. The globe carried written statements from people from all over the world, with a message to the Norwegian government to stop the oil drilling.

The activists halted the operation of the rig, and after several hours of demanding an end to the drilling in the Arctic, the Norwegian Coast Guard interfered with the peaceful protest.

Truls Gulowsen, Head of Greenpeace Norway, said:

“The Norwegian coast guard doesn’t have the right to board or remove our ship. Protest at sea is an internationally recognized lawful use of the sea, related to the freedom of navigation. We are taking action against Arctic drilling in an area where our rights to protest are protected under international law. The Norwegian government cannot unjustifiably interfere with that right.”

“The Norwegian government seems more interested in protecting the reckless Arctic oil drilling operation carried out by state-owned Statoil, than listening to the concerns voiced by people from all over the world and protecting the right to protest against the opening of a new, aggressive oil frontier in the Arctic. This is a violation of Norway’s duty under its own Constitution and its commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

Greenpeace has monitored Statoil's oil drilling program in the Barents Sea for the last month.This is a part of Greenpeace’s global campaign to protect the climate and the Arctic. In Norway, Greenpeace Nordic and Nature and Youth have challenged the licensing of these Arctic oil fields in court, and the climate lawsuit will be heard in the Oslo District Court in November. The organization invites activists from all over the world to sign the People’s Witness Statement, that will be presented to the court.

356,000 people have joined the call to the the Norwegian government to respect the Norwegian Constitution and The Paris Agreement.

ENDS

 

Notes

Protest at sea is an internationally recognized lawful use of the sea related to the freedom of navigation. This freedom exists within the Extended Continental Shelf under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Article 87.

In exploiting the non-living resources in the extended continental shelf, Norway must not infringe or unjustifiably interfere with our freedom of navigation and our rights, including our right to protest (UNCLOS Articles 76, 78, 80).

While Greenpeace recognizes that Norway has the right to establish a safety zone around a fixed offshore installation, there should also be room to exercise the right to protest in a safe and peaceful manner.

Images can be found here.

The full collection from The People vs. Arctic Oil ship tour can be seen here.

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