This is an open letter to New Zealand from the family of David Haussmann, one of the ‘Arctic 30’ detained in Russia on charges of piracy following a peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic. It was originally published in the Nelson Mail on Sat 12 October 2013.
On September 18 2013 while performing his normal daily duties as an electrical engineer aboard the MV Arctic Sunrise, David was taken forcibly into custody by the Russian Coast Guard and is now detained under a charge of piracy. This action has left David’s partner and the Haussmann family devastated.
David is a kind, quiet natured guy who grew up in rural New Zealand, learning respect for the world around him as he grew up. David has an inner love for nature and prefers life in the slow lane rather than the fast. He completed an electrical apprenticeship with the local power board and went on to work for a number of companies, earning the respect of his peers in the electrical business.
In the 90s while living in Nelson he did some work on the Greenpeace ship flagship, Rainbow Warrior, and joined up soon after as one of the ship’s electrical engineers.
Believing in the right to peaceful protest, David saw this as a way of doing his bit to ensure a future for the fragile environment that Earth is.
It was on one of these campaigns that David met his partner Sarah and they developed a relationship that has seen them both settle in New Zealand and start a family together.
As a means of supporting his family David continued his work as an electrical engineer on the Greenpeace boats. David was doing a job that was important to him and one that he continued to enjoy.
The current trip on the Arctic Sunrise was to be David’s last for a while as Sarah is expecting their second child in February 2014. He was due home around the 21st of October to support Sarah through the final stages of pregnancy.
The act of force shown by the Russian Coast Guard was not the sort of thing that the family enjoyed watching. To see the courtroom and the detainees being held in cages while being processed raised concerns. The charge of piracy further knocked the family, this final act made the family determined to act in solidarity with the Beauchamp family and along with Greenpeace New Zealand to work on strategies to get our loved one’s plight acknowledged by our current Government officials.
Meetings were requested with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, but were not granted, a further meeting was then requested with the Russian Embassy staff. This meeting was granted. and on Friday the 4th of October the family met members of the Beauchamp family in Wellington and together conveyed their concerns to embassy staff, seeking reassurance that both David and Jon’s health and wellbeing were being looked after during the period of detention. We were assured of this and it was relief to both families to finally have some direct assurance from an official. Other governments have offered to act as guarantors for bail for their citizens and have shown support for the Dutch government which has invoked legal actions to get the release of its flagged ship the Arctic Sunrise and crew.
Days are moving on now and we head into a period of unknown where an investigation continues against internationally unfounded charges.
We ask the people of New Zealand to voice their own individual concerns regarding the detention of David, Jon and the others, and to show support for the actions taken in the bid to gain their release.
Contact Minister for Foreign Affairs Murray McCully and urge him to take stronger action to secure the release of David and Jon.
The Minister can be contacted either by phone (04) 817 6810, or