Ten Greenpeace activists climbed onto the harbour's lock gates and sealed it shut to prevent four ships loaded with US military equipment bound for the Gulf leaving the harbour and a US navy vessel entering it to be loaded.
The sun was just setting as we got into the boats. Five small
inflatables heading out for a rendez-vous with a massive military
ship. The Rainbow Warrior was following close behind. It was our
latest attempt to stop the build up to war, we wanted to prevent
four ships loaded with US military equipment bound for the Gulf
from leaving the harbour and a US navy vessel from entering it to
Already 10 activists were at the locks that the ships must pass
through into the harbour to load. The activists climbed onto one of
the harbour's lock gates and sealed it shut. We approached from the
opposite side and attempted to block the entrance to the locks.
As we arrived the sun had set and a bright yellow full moon was
reaching into the sky. The police were already at the locks.
We maneuvered around the
entrance in our boats for a short period trying to find the right
spot and time to enter, and at last I heard those words that always
make my heart jump: "Go, go, go!" We raced towards the lock
entrance and one of the climbers attempted to climb up to the lock
bridge, but police were already waiting at the top of the wall.
Other activists set to painting "No War" on the walls of the
We were not there long when I heard someone say over the radio
that the US military ship was approaching the locks. At first we
could barely see it through the thick darkness and numerous small
lights that dotted the opposite side of the canal, but as it moved
closer it revealed itself to be a monster of a ship being moved
into place by two large tug boats. All that stood between the giant
military ship and the locks were five small Greenpeace inflatable
We stayed at the entrance to the lock as the military ship was
slowly maneuvered into position. Our small boat got quite close to
the ship and it wasn't long before we had a large police boat in
our path and a helicopter buzzing above us with their spot light on
Shortly a different police boat, another inflatable, came to us
and said we better get out of the way, the military ship would not
stop for anything, and they quickly vacated the area. This is when
I began to worry. But the rest of the activists in my boat seemed
calm and confident, or perhaps it was just too dark to see if they
were worried as well.
As the tug boats moved the ship swiftly and expertly into the
locks, the unimaginably large hull of the ship sweep by us and all
five of our inflatable made it safely out of the way. But the stand
off was not over.
As soon as the military ship was in the lock and had come to a
stop, we raced forward into the locks with them and zoomed in front
of the large steel doors that slide across to close the lock. We
were not going to let this military ship move on and load up for
war without a fight.
Shortly the police were back on the scene and working hard to
get us out of the lock.
We take safety so seriously that it sometimes shocks us a bit
the way police behave in these situations. The large police boat
repeatedly rammed into the small inflatable boats. Once, as it came
close to our boat, a man with a hook on the end of a pole jabbed
the sharp end into our inflatable. Luckily no damage was done and
no one was injured.
Eventually the policed turned the water hoses on our boats to
try to move us out of the path of the lock doors. One of our
inflatables did not budge from the spot. But eventually the large
police boat and inflatable were able to push our inflatables out of
the lock and the gates began to close. We got out of the way. A
small Greenpeace inflatable is no match for a giant steel lock
We stopped the military ship from loading tonight, but there
will be more. There is a constant stream of military equipment
going out of Antwerp harbour despite the Belgian government's claim
that they do not support the war. Yet I remain hopeful. Millions of
people marched around the world this past weekend against a war on
Iraq, and although there were only about 30 of us out against the
military ship tonight, we know we're in good company in opposing
Our toes may now be numb from the cold, but are hearts are warm
and our spirits restless - let's all keep the pressure on for
Read the press release.
What you can do
the UN ambassadors that sit on the Security Council and ask them to
uphold international law and refuse to approve a war in
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and ask him to oppose war in Iraq and
to refuse to allow UK troops to be used in such a war.
If you live in the US, consider calling on your city council to
pass a resolution against a war with Iraq. Twenty cities across the
US have already passed similar resolutions and efforts are underway
in dozens more communities. For more information, visit, www.citiesforpeace.org.
Join our campaign against ExxonMobil/ Esso, the world's biggest
oil company. For more information, visit www.stopesso.org.
Get more ideas for getting involved from www.moveon.org , www.protest.net and www.targetoil.com.