Greenpeace set up peace camp on military supply ship heading for the Gulf

Press release - 30 January, 2003

A Greenpeace volunteer is sprayed by a water canon from the MV LYRA as he sets up a peace camp on the UK military supply ship bound for the Gulf today.

A team of Greenpeace volunteers today boarded and set up a peace camp on a UK military supply ship bound for the Gulf. The five volunteers climbed on to the MV Lyra, which has been commandeered by the British forces, as it was leaving the UK this morning loaded with a cargo of military hardware. The five volunteers equipped with food supplies and protective gear set up camp on the Lyra's stern ramp.

Other activists in inflatable boats have painted No War on the side of the ship. Crew from the MV Lyra have been soaking the boat crews with high pressure water hoses. The vessel came from Southampton's Marchwood port which Greenpeace's flagship the Rainbow Warrior successfully blockaded on Monday. This morning the Rainbow Warrior took up position anchored near the MV Lyra.

The peace camp is part of the Greenpeace campaign to prevent a military attack on Iraq that could kill thousands of civilians and increase the chances of weapons of mass destruction being used.

Greenpeace campaigner John Sauven, speaking from the Rainbow Warrior said, "Greenpeace will stay on this ship as far as the Gulf if necessary. War is the wrong way to stop the spread of nuclear and chemical weapons. The only safe way to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction is through peaceful, global agreements. This means not just singling out Iraq but all states including the US and Britain.

Greenpeace is 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.

US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony 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. The five nuclear powers are Britain, the US, China, France and Russia. Other states known to have nuclear weapons include India, Pakistan and Israel. The Bush administration has stated that at least 13 countries are pursuing biological weapons research.

The war is also clearly largely motivated by oil. The same forces that are backing the war are also supporting the US administration's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which would begin to combat climate change. 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.

VVPR info: Video available through Greenpeace UK - Photos available from John Novis at Greenpeace International: +31 20 524 9580

Notes: Four of the activists on board the Lyra are from the UK, the fifth is from Germany.