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article imageGreenpeace take Barcelona's Sagrada Familia for Arctic 30

By Anne Sewell     Nov 9, 2013 in World
Barcelona - In their latest protest demanding the release of 30 activists arrested on the Gazprom oil rig in the Russian Arctic, Greenpeace has taken Barcelona's iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral hostage.
Greenpeace, the environmental group who got into trouble for protesting oil exploration in the Arctic recently, have taken to yet more heights to demand the release of their 30 activists, imprisoned in Russia.
On October 26, Digital Journal reported on the Greenpeace activist who scaled the Eiffel Tower in Paris and then staged a solo, two-hour protest by hanging from a tent suspended from the iconic tower.
Now they have taken the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, Spain. On Friday at 9:30 a.m. they reached the passion façade of the building designed by Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí, 90 metres (300 ft) above ground.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona s Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace
They hung posters displaying photos of the 30 Greenpeace members (two journalists and 28 activists) who were arrested by Russian police 50 days ago, when they attempted to chain themselves up to a Gazprom oil rig in the Pechora Sea.
The posters read "freedom" in English, Spanish and Catalan and include pictures of the captured activists, now known as the Arctic 30.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona s Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace
Due to the dangers of the protest, Barcelona fire fighters and police arrived on the scene with inflatable platforms below the activists in case someone was to fall.
At around 11 a.m. several more protesters attempted to enter the cathedral, but were arrested by security personnel. However, it is not thought that any charges will be laid against them.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona s Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral.
YouTube
Vice interviewed Greenpeace spokesperson Luis Ferreirim and asked him why the Sagrada Familia, to which he replied:
"Well, we decided on the Sagrada Família as it’s a really iconic building, and a good opportunity to send out a message about the activists who are being held in Russia. Ten climbers got to display banners with photos of the detained activists and the word "freedom" in various languages."
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona s Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace
When asked how easy it was to get on to the building, Ferreirim said:
"It was surprisingly easy getting out there. We just walked in like normal visitors, and then climbed from there. Unfortunately not all the activists could unfurl their banners. We had planned for 30 protesters—one for each of the detainees. We also took care not to damage the building, as we’re aware of its historic status."
When asked what the response has been like generally to their Arctic 30 campaign, he said:
"It’s been great. Two million letters of protest have been sent to Russian embassies around the world, and we’ve got the support of 12 Nobel Prize winners and some heads of state, such as Angela Merkel."
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona s Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace
The Arctic 30 consists of people from 18 countries, and they were initially charged with piracy for boarding the Gazprom oil rig. They were placed in pre-trial detention in Russia until November 24.
Reportedly several of the activists have complained about the conditions under which they are being kept saying that they are in isolation with a lack of adequate food and clothing in cold prison cells.
Last month Russian investigations reduced the piracy charge, which would have carried a maximum 15-year prison term, down to hooliganism. However, this is the same charge levied against the Pussy Riot punk band for their protest against Putin, which landed them in prison for two years.
According to Greenpeace the activists have never received official papers, formally lifting the piracy charge.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona s Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace
When Ferreirim was asked of all this international pressure is likely to make a difference, he responded:
"We know it’s difficult. At the end of the day, it’s a different country, but we’re optimistic. We expect the charges to be brought on November 24. That’s the date the Russian authorities have announced. And really, the only criminal offense they’ve committed is to stage a peaceful protest, and to care for the world’s future."
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona s Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Greenpeace activists protested on behalf of the Arctic 30 on Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral.
YouTube
Below is a recently released video of the arrest of the activists on the oil rig:
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