Antwerp: stopping the war machine

Feature story - 14 February, 2003
As the thunder of war continues to rumble, Greenpeace continues to roll -- at this moment blocking the movement of tanks and battle machinery toward Iraq.

Greenpeace activists use life rafts and canoes to build a floating peace camp along the quayside in the Belgium port of Antwerp. Military water cannon visible in background.

The Rainbow Warrior, which was last seen blocking movements of military hardware out of Southampton in the UK, today made a surprise appearance in the Belgian port of Antwerp, where US military materials, including helicopters, tanks, trucks and other vehicles are being loaded onto transport ships.

Activists from the Warrior and a second Greenpeace ship, the Argus, are using life rafts and canoes to build a floating peace camp along the quayside.

American soldiers are using fire hoses on the activists to try to and stop the protest, which was directed at two transport vessels, Catherine and Republica di Roma.

In contrast, when Belgian police divers inspecting the ships for bombs encountered Greenpeace protestors painting "No War" on the bow of the "Catherine," they politely asked them to stop so they could carry on their work. The activists were asked to come back later, so the incomplete message "No" remains on the ship at the moment, awaiting completion with "War." Belgium has been an outspoken critic of the war effort.

Activists from Hungary, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Turkey, Germany, France, New Zealand, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Russia, Mexico, Denmark, Czech Republic, Finland and Italy are on the scene now and continuing to oppose the movement of military machinery in preparation for war.

"This proposed war is illegal, ill conceived and illegitimate," said Jan Vande Putte, of Greenpeace, speaking in Antwerp on site of the protest. "It is illegal under the United Nations Charter to launch a pre-emptive war. If this war does go ahead, it would be disastrous for the people of Iraq, for the environment and for international security. And it is not only morally wrong, but will not solve the problem of weapons of mass destruction."

"Whatever conclusion Blix comes to today, the key issue is not how we're going to get of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction but how we're going rid the world of all weapons of mass destruction," he added.