UK war machine defies courts and seizes the Rainbow Warrior

Feature story - 2 February, 2003
For the last six days Greenpeace activists have peacefully protested in a UK port where military supply vessels are preparing for departure to Iraq. A High Court ruling has recognised Greenpeace's right to protest and denied the Defense department's request for an injunction banning the Rainbow Warrior from the area. But under the cover of darkness early Sunday morning Ministry of Defense officials defied the high court decision forcibly removing the Greenpeace ship from the Southhampton docks.

Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior setting up peace blockade at Southampton's Marchwood military port stopping military hardware leaving for the Gulf.

The Rainbow Warrior was surrounded by six Ministry of Defense and police boats and up to twenty police boarded the ship just after 10:00 pm Saturday night. By 3:00 am they had cut the anchor chain and towed the ship out of the way.

Greenpeace's flagship the Rainbow Warrior had set up a peace blockade at Southampton's Marchwood military port stopping military hardware leaving for the Gulf. The Rainbow Warrior was anchored directly in front of the military port where supply vessel 'Dart 8' was loading with helicopters, tanks and jeeps.

The peace blockade began Saturday following Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon's failure to get a High Court injunction banning the Rainbow Warrior from the area. The High Court Judge granted an interim injunction stipulating that Greenpeace must not board or touch the Ministry of Defense chartered vessels.

A Greenpeace campaigner on the site, William Peden, says we have acted completely peacefully during the course of this anti-war protest and believes that the Secretary of State direction is unlawful and an abuse of power. "We believe the government is acting beyond its jurisdiction by going against the due process of law. Not content to breach international law by pursuing an illegitimate war in Iraq, they are now disregarding their own domestic courts."

Every hour Blair is dragging the UK closer towards a war that the British people don't want. Day and night tanks and helicopters are streaming though Marchwood as part of the build up of the military machine. We are determined to do everything we can to stop this headlong rush into a war that will only make the world a more volatile and dangerous place.

A military attack on Iraq that could kill thousands of civilians and increase the chances of weapons of mass destruction being used. An attack on Iraq is clearly a barely disguised desire to take control of Iraq's huge oil reserves.

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. It would require repeated armed interventions against numerous countries.

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 Bush administration.

We are opposed to war in Iraq, whether or not an attack is sanctioned by the United Nations.

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,

Join our campaign against ExxonMobil/ Esso, the world's biggest oil company. For more information, visit

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