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Queens Park man charged with piracy

Frank Hewetson - #FreeTheArctic30
 
Frank Hewetson, charged with piracy, which carries the maximum penalty of 15yrs. 
 
You and I would probably associate the term “piracy” with the practice of attacking and robbing ships at sea or a similar practice in other contexts, such as hijacking.
 
However the Russian authorities see it differently: in a blatant and absurd attempt to silence any dissent and protesting against drilling in the Arctic, they've seized the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise whilst in International waters. 
 
Greenpeace took action on September 18 at the giant Prirazlomnaya oil rig, where Gazprom intends to become the first company to pump oil from icy Arctic waters. Over a day later the ship was illegally boarded by armed special forces, before being towed to Murmansk with its 30 crew members. The Arctic 30  - as they are now known - have all been charged with piracy, which carries the maximum penalty of 15yrs.
 
These men and women were acting on their belief that what they were doing was for the common good and the environment. Amongst them is Frank Hewetson who lives in Queens Park and is the father of 2. Frank is presently in a Russian jail having been arrested as one of the crew.
 
Frank Hewetson has been an active member of Greenpeace for several years and has been jailed before for actions such as breaking twice into nuclear power plant Sizewell B - once to oppose nuclear power, the other to show how vulnerable it was to terrorist attack. This time however he is jailed in a state where respect for human rights is more often ignored in favour of  powerful interests such as  Gazprom. 
 
He is described in the Greenpeace own website as having worked for them “in the UK and Australia since 1989. His commitment to environmental activism is tireless, and he has taken part in many Greenpeace campaigns over the years. “
 
Lawyers acting on behalf of Greenpeace International have now lodged formal appeals in the Murmansk Lenin district court against the continued detention of the Arctic 30. 
 
Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said: “Our activists have been charged with a crime that did not happen, they are accused of an imaginary offence. There can be no doubt about why the charge of piracy has been brought and the legal hammer wielded. An effort is underway to intimidate us, but our peaceful passionate campaign against Gazprom and all other Arctic drillers will not be silenced. A profound injustice is right now being perpetrated against our friends, our brothers and sisters, our sons and daughters who sit in jail. I call on people across the world to stand with us against Gazprom and all oil companies who want to drill in the Arctic, join us in this fight against bullies of the very worst kind.”
 
Amnesty International has demanded that the Russian authorities drop the “absurd and damaging” piracy charges. Over 60 other NGOs have issued statements of concern and support including Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, WWF International, Friends of the Earth International, 350, Sierra Club, Reporters Without Borders, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and Global Witness.  
 
Actor Jude Law, musician Damon Albarn, designer Vivienne Westwood, Downton Abbey actor Jim Carter and actress Imelda Staunton are some of the many who joined the campaign to free these environment activists. 
 
As Greenpeace International puts it: "The Arctic is melting before our eyes, and these brave activists stand in defiance of those who wish to exploit this unfolding crisis to drill for more oil." We agree with them. 
 
You can find out more at http://www.greenpeace.org/ 
 
 
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