Greenpeace stands by peaceful resolution of conflict as activists face court
Sydney, Wednesday April 30, 2003: Greenpeace today stood by its actions surrounding the departure of the HMAS Sydney on April 8, as eight activists from the organisation were fined in relation to the incident, in a hearing at Sydney’s Downing Centre local courts.
The Greenpeace action was in protest at the decision of the federal government to risk Australian lives fighting an illegal war in Iraq, and at the loss of all human life through conflict.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific CEO Peter Mullins said Greenpeace does not believe it is possible to reach long- term solutions to conflict by violent means. “We advocate international law, not war,” he said.
“We proudly stand here today, having accepted the court’s judgement of our deeds, believing we were right to voice our opposition to the war in a non-violent way. In a true democracy, all opinions have a right to expression.”
“In the current global climate, non-violent direct action such as Greenpeace undertakes assumes an even more important position than in more peaceful times. Now is not the time to be silent. All voices must speak and be heard.”
New Zealand activists Logan Petley of Whakatane and Phil Woollam of Auckland, pleaded guilty via a barrister to the summary charge of wilfully preventing the passage of a vessel. All eight activists charged were each fined $440.
“There is an alternative course of action to address the root causes of the war against Iraq and all the other nations on George Bush’s hit list,” Mullins said.
“All nations must return to the path of multilateralism and respect the introduction of common rules for all. With the commencement this week in Geneva of a new round of negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the global call of ‘no nukes for all’ has never been stronger. The nuclear weapons states including the US must immediately disarm their weapons of mass destruction.” Mullins concluded, “If Greenpeace can change the course of a warship using just a piece of nylon rope and a dozen individuals in kayaks, just think what the global community acting together might achieve. This is the power of the vision behind Greenpeace.”
NOTE: On 2GB radio last week Australian Prime Minister John Howard effectively acknowledged Greenpeace’s actions did not risk damage to property by concluding that there was no grounds for a charge of sabotage to be laid.