People's message of peace illuminated

Press release - 21 February, 2003

Greenpeace volunteers project peace messages on to the bow of the USS Blue Ridge, command ship of the US 7th Fleet, as part of the global campaign against the possible war in Iraq.

Last night, Greenpeace reminded the US of the overwhelming wish of Chinese people for 'Peace' by delivering the message to a potent symbol of US military might in Hong Kong harbour.

Two 100 square metre projections were shone onto the bow of the USS Blue Ridge; first, the internationally recognised peace symbol and then a dove of peace with a missile tail, carrying the message "No War". The USS Blue Ridge is the command ship for the US 7th fleet in the western Pacific. The ship arrived in Hong Kong February 17th, on what was described as a routine visit. There is no information about the next destination of the Blue Ridge.

The 7th Fleet area of responsibility for US Navy operations encompasses 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. On average, there are 50 ships, 200 aircraft and approximately 20,000 sailors operating in the area.

During the course of the projections, Greenpeace volunteers operating the projector had a rifle levelled at them by a crewmember on one of the two private security boats, which were attempting to disrupt the protest. The volunteers were then threatened with being shot if they did not move away from the USS Blue Ridge. Greenpeace volunteers immediately informed the police of the threat and a police launch arrived shortly afterwards.

"We came here carrying a message of peace from the Chinese people but were met with a completely disproportionate and irresponsible level of force," said Greenpeace Action Campaigner, Alice Yeung.

Marine Police are investigating the incident and may bring charges. In addition, Legco member James Tao has called on the Hong Kong government to register its disapproval of this irresponsible action with the US Consul General.

Chinese people have joined their voices to millions of others around the world in saying "no" to war. Recent opinion polls in both Hong Kong and Mainland China have indicated that a majority of Chinese people are against military intervention in Iraq. Almost 60,000 people took part in a web poll on one of China's largest websites which asked the question "Do you think that the Iraq problem should be solved by War?" - with 71% answering "No". In a separate poll, around 80% of Hong Kong people said they were against the possible war in Iraq. In addition, over 500 prominent Mainland intellectuals signed a statement against the possible war that was delivered to the US Embassy in Beijing earlier this week.

"President Jiang Zemin has given his support to the Franco-Russian-German proposal for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq problem. Chinese people have also expressed their wishes for peace not war. Our message to the sailors on board the USS Blue Ridge is that you are welcome in peace but not in war. In addition, we call upon the Hong Kong government to not give any support, financial or otherwise, to the US military build up for the possible war in Iraq." said Sze Ping Lo, Campaigns Director for Greenpeace in China.

Greenpeace has been protesting around the globe against the possible war in Iraq, so far having taken action in UK, Belgium, Australia, Turkey, Austria, France, Hong Kong, Spain, Slovakia and Hungary, amongst other countries. As an organisation based on principles of peace and non-violence, we strongly believe that violence cannot resolve conflict.