Greenpeace activists block Spanish and Turkish military ports

Anti-war protests at Kremlin

Press release - 14 March, 2003

A helicopter from the Guardia Civil hovering over inflatables from the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior at the entry of Rota Naval Base.

This morning Greenpeace took non violent, direct action in Spain, Turkey and Russia in an urgent appeal to all world governments to find a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis.

At 0900 hours CET, the Greenpeace flagship 'Rainbow Warrior' blocked a section of the Rota naval base in Spain to prevent the US warship Cape Horn leaving for the Gulf. Two activists have been arrested but the Rainbow Warrior remains anchored at the port's entrance.

Meanwhile in Turkey, Greenpeace activists placed a truck painted with the message "No to war - US go home" across the entrance to Iskenderun Harbour to block a convoy of trucks carrying US military equipment, preventing them from leaving the port and heading into Turkey. Two activists chained themselves to the top of the truck and four others locked themselves between the wheels. The activists on top of the truck opened a banner saying "No to war". 15 activists, from Belgium, Australia, Lebanon, the UK and Turkey have been taken into custody.

"We're making an urgent demand to all the world's governments on behalf of the overwhelming majority of the population that is opposed to this looming against Iraq, to find a peaceful resolution to this conflict and to stop the military build up in the Gulf. Greenpeace is determined to do all it can to prevent this mobilisation and to stop a war that will only make the world a more volatile and dangerous place," said Greenpeace campaigner on board the Rainbow Warrior in Spain, Carlos Bravo.

US soldiers have already started to settle in nine regions in Turkey bringing in military equipment, vehicles and weapons through Iskenderun Harbour. Although the Turkish military and the government claim that this is being done as part of the process of modernisation of the bases in Turkey, in a letter to the President of the Turkish Republic last month (1), 28 lawyers of the Izmir Bar warned that this is illegal. Recently, the Head of Parliament, Bulent Arinc, also expressed "horror" at the US soldiers' illegal presence in Turkey.

"The U.S. military build up in Turkey is illegal, illegitimate and ill advised," said Greenpeace campaigner Banu Dokmecibasi, from the scene of the action in Iskenderun Harbour. "By continuing to move troops and military equipment through Turkey, the Bush Administration is overriding Turkish laws, wrecking international agreements, attempting to invalidate the UN and threatening democracy worldwide," she added.

Also today, three Greenpeace activists were arrested in Russia when they sent a direct demand to Russian President Vladimir Putin by displaying two banners in front the of the Kremlin saying "stop wars" and "veto war", urging him to stand firm in his opposition to a war in Iraq and to use his UN Security Council veto should a second resolution be tabled.

Greenpeace opposes war because of its devastating human and environmental consequences.The last Gulf war killed two hundred thousand people and left many of the survivors malnourished, diseased, and dying. Damage to ecosystems in the area continued for years after the war ended.

War is also not the way to dealing with weapons of mass destruction. There is a need for global disarmament from weapons of mass destruction but this must be achieved through peaceful diplomatic negotiations. Instead of blocking progress on disarmament and verification, the US and the UK should start by implementing their own commitments to abolish these weapons and, meanwhile, give the weapons inspectors the time they need to disarm Iraq.

Notes: (1) On 21 February 2003, 28 Lawyers from the Izmir Bar sent a letter of warning to the President of the Turkish Republic, the Head of Parliament, the Prime Minister, the leader of the main opposition party and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, saying that the government violated Articles 2, 6, 7, 87, 92 and 106 of the Turkish Constitution, by bringing the first motion to the Parliament prior to a declaration of war by the same Parliament. The lawyers demanded that the decision allowing the deployment for 3 months of US technical military personnel for the modernisation of the bases in Turkey be cancelled. They also warned that they would take legal action against all those involved.(2) http://nyc.indymedia.com provides a map (Terror Map) locating US sites holding biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.