Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior confronts US war preparations in Europe

Press release - 14 February, 2003

Greenpeace activists from the Greenpeace vessels, Rainbow Warrior and Argus display a peace symbol on the side of two of the transport vessels -CATHERINE and REPUBLICA DE ROMA which are shipping helicopters, tanks, trucks and other military vehicles to the Gulf.

Greenpeace continued its global protest against preparations for war on Iraq today. At 10.00 GMT, activists from the Greenpeace vessels, Rainbow Warrior and Argus, used life rafts and canoes to build a floating peace camp long the quayside in the Belgium port of Antwerp, where US military materials, including helicopters, tanks, trucks and other vehicles are being loaded onto transport ships.

The protestors painted 'no war' on the side of two of the transport vessels, Catherine and Republica di Roma. Two activists occupied the bow of the Catherine and another attached himself to the hull. American soldiers used fire hoses on the activists to try to and stop the protest.

The activists include people from around the world - including Hungary, Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands, Turkey, Germany, France, New Zealand, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Russia, Mexico, Denmark, Czech Republic, Finland and Italy.

"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 any war unless it's a preventative 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 rid of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction but how we're going rid the world of all weapons of mass destruction," he added.

Global disarmament is the only solution to this crisis. Thirty years ago, world governments agreed to an international treaty under the UN auspices, to get rid of nuclear weapons but the US and the UK have violated it ever since by increasing their nuclear arsenals rather than disarming. Now, for the first time, they say they are prepared to use these weapons against non-nuclear countries, including Iraq, even though the International Court of Justice has ruled that threatening nuclear war is illegal.

"The US and the UK's attitude towards weapons of mass destruction is hypocritical and inconsistent. While talking about the dangers of Iraq possessing such weapons, the US and the UK, along with the three other members of the UN Security Council - France, China and Russia - control the world's biggest arsenals of these weapons. The only way to get rid of them is through negotiations, and those countries with the most weapons, such as the Unites States, should lead the way," said Vande Putte.

"The people of the world do not want this war, do not believe the rhetoric and are demanding a peaceful solution. Tomorrow, millions of people will be on the streets around the world protesting against this war. George W. Bush, Tony Blair and their allies ignore the growing tide of dissent at their peril."

VVPR info: Photos and video available from Greenpeace International + 31 20 524 9545

Notes: Greenpeace has been taking non-violent direct action worldwide in protest against an impending war with Iraq. Earlier this month, the Rainbow Warrior occupied Marchwood Military port in the UK to prevent military equipment being loaded and protestors sealed themselves inside tanks. In Turkey and Chile, protestors took to the streets. Greenpeace activists climbed Prague Castle two weeks ago and hung a banner saying 'war?'. Other activists hung an anti war banner on St Michael's Gate in Bratslavia, Slovakia. In China, Spain and Canada, Greenpeace 'inspectors' have visited US embassies in search of US weapons of mass destruction. Yesterday, protestors projected peace messages on the Sydney Opera House and harbour.