Greenpeace Sets Up Peace Camp In British Tanks
Greenpeace today (7.45 am 4/2/03) peacefully occupied British military vehicles en route to the Gulf as part of an ongoing global campaign against war in Iraq. In the latest action to stop a UK military attack, fourteen Greenpeace volunteers entered Southampton's Marchwood Military Port and occupied tanks and jeeps queued up to leave on the roll-on/roll-off ferry Stena Shipper. Four of the volunteers climbed into tanks and secured the hatches behind them.
Four of the volunteers had evaded Ministry of Defence speedboats to reach the tanks while ten volunteers cut a hole in the perimeter fence and reached the vehicles from the land.
Speaking from the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace campaigner Blake Lee Harwood said, "Greenpeace will use every peaceful means available to try and stop an attack on Iraq. The Government has already ordered the cutting of our anchor chain and attempted to have the Rainbow Warrior thrown out of Southampton but we will continue to find ways to oppose a war that will have disastrous consequences. An attack on Iraq would lead to massive civilian suffering and increase the chances that weapons of mass destruction will be used."
Greenpeace has now been trying to stop the build up of the UK military machine for over a week. On Monday 28th January Greenpeace's flagship the Rainbow Warrior blockaded the military port to prevent MOD chartered supply ships from leaving. On Wednesday 30th Greenpeace volunteers boarded the vessel the MV Lyra as it lay anchored in the Solent with a cargo of military vehicles. Both protests ended in the face of extreme weather conditions. On Saturday 2nd February the Rainbow Warrior resumed its peace blockade of the military docks until the ship was stormed by police who cut her anchor chain and used powerful tugs to force the ship away from the area.
This latest peaceful protest by Greenpeace is part of the global 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. An attack on Iraq is clearly a barely disguised desire to take control of Iraq's huge oil reserves.
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. According to military and health experts a conventional war could kill many thousands of people, mainly civilians, and many more could die from famine and disease.
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. The five nuclear powers are Britain, the US, China, France and Russia. Other states known to have nuclear weapons include India, Pakistan and Israel. North Korea is openly seeking to acquire them. The Bush administration has stated that at least 13 countries are pursuing biological weapons research.
Greenpeace believes 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 USA.
The war is also clearly motivated by oil. The same forces that are backing the war are also supporting the US's refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol, which would begin to combat climate change. The same US companies that maintain America's oil addiction and oppose the Kyoto Protocol are also backing the war against Iraq. 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.