The Honourable John Baird, P.C., M.P., Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs
2249 Carling Ave, Suite 418
I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.
Over 4 million people globally have joined together to protect the Arctic. On September 19th, 30 of those people were illegally imprisoned by Russian authorities following a peaceful protest in international waters to highlight the potentially devastating impacts of Arctic drilling. Despite never voluntarily entering Russian territory, these brave women and men - the Arctic 30 - were held in Russia for over two months without trial before being released on bail.
Two Canadians, Paul Ruzycki and Alexandre Paul, are among those still trapped in Russia facing trumped up charges and the possibility of seven years in prison. The Dutch, German, British, Finnish, American, Brazilian, Ontario and Quebec governments have all spoken out about the Arctic 30.
Yet, despite pleas from Paul and Alexandre's families and letters from civil society groups, political parties, and tens of thousands of Canadians urging action, the Canadian government remains silent. The ongoing presence of Canadian diplomats in Russia has been invaluable to Paul, Alexandre, and their families. The government of Canada also has a responsibility to work on a political level to ensure their safe return home.
We urge the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs to:
- Call publicly for Paul and Alexandre to be allowed to return home to Canada, and for the charges against them to be dropped.
- Raise this issue at the highest possible levels with his contacts in the Russian Federation.
- Urge the Russian Federation to adhere to the ruling from the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, which orders the Russian Federation to release the Arctic 30 and the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.
We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.
This statement was originally published on 17 December 2013 on cjfe.org.