Greenpeace tank girls occupy war machine

Feature story - 4 February, 2003
Despite growing public opposition to a war with Iraq, day and night British tanks, helicopters and jeeps are streaming though Southampton as part of the build up of the war machine. For over a week we have tried to stop the supplies from loading and leaving the Uk and today 14 volunteers entered the military port occupying tanks and jeeps ready to roll on the ferry Stena Shipper bound for the Gulf.

Fourteen of Greenpeace volunteers entered Southampton's Marchwood Military Port and occupied tanks and jeeps queued up to be loaded on the roll-on/roll-off ferry Stena Shipper bound for the Gulf.

At 08:00 am this morning, 14 of our volunteers entered Southampton's Marchwood Military Port and occupied tanks and jeeps queued up to be loaded on the roll-on/roll-off ferry Stena Shipper bound for the Gulf. Four of our volunteers, all women, evaded Ministry of Defence speedboats to reach the tanks via the quayside, while ten others cut a hole in the perimeter fence and reached the vehicles from the land.

Some activists are chained to the exterior of the vehicles, while others have climbed into tanks and secured the hatches behind them. We've also started to paint the 'No War' message down the sides of the military vehicles. Seven activists have already been arrested, four are still locked inside the tanks and two others are chained to them. Police are on the scene.

American activist Ashby sends this image back from inside the British tank she is occupying in Southampton An American activist, Ashby 24, who climbed inside one of the tanks and secured the hatch says "It's great to be able to do something directly against the war, something I've been waiting to do since I first heard about it."

Speaking from the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace campaigner Blake Lee Harwood said, "We will use every peaceful means available to try and stop an attack on Iraq. The government has already ordered the cutting of our anchor chain and attempted to have the Rainbow Warrior thrown out of Southampton but we will continue to find ways to oppose this war which will have disastrous consequences. An attack on Iraq would lead to massive civilian suffering and increase the chances that weapons of mass destruction will be used."

Protests against the war with Iraq were also held in Australia and France today. Greenpeace volunteers in Toulouse, France are in the water trying to stop the impending departure of the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier that's scheduled to go to Turkey for an unknown purpose. The activists are asking President Chirac "If you're not supporting the war on Iraq, why are you sending this carrier to Turkey?" In Australia activists inflated a hot air balloon outside Parliament House in Canberra with a message demanding that the Australian government stop sending troops to Iraq and to 'give peace a chance'.

We are opposed to war in Iraq, whether or not an attack is sanctioned by the United Nations, because it would have devastating human and environmental consequences. According to military and health experts a conventional war could kill many thousands of people mainly civilians and many more could die from famine and disease.

Bush and Blair have cited Saddam Hussein's desire to acquire weapons of mass destruction as justification for an invasion. However, pre-emptive military strikes against states possessing or suspected of possessing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons do not provide a stable basis for controlling them.

We believe the solution to weapons of mass destruction is collective international arms control and disarmament. The framework already exists, in the form of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. But rather than being strengthened, these global treaties are being undermined, especially by the US.

The war is also clearly motivated by oil. The same forces that are backing the war are also supporting the US's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which would begin to combat climate change. The same US companies that maintain America's oil addiction and oppose the Kyoto Protocol are also backing the war against Iraq. The British government has recently announced that one of the top five priorities for foreign policy is securing access to energy supplies. Yet Blair still denies that an attack on Iraq has anything to do with oil.

What you can do

If you believe that George Bush's war stance is based on hypocritical arms policies and sticky oil connections, make your voice heard.

Write to the UN ambassadors that sit on the Security Council and ask them to uphold international law and refuse to approve a war in Iraq.

Write to 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.