Right to protest against war recognised by High Court
Greenpeace today welcomed the government's decision not to pursue an injunction to ban the Rainbow Warrior from the Southampton area. The Rainbow Warrior has been opposing military shipments to the Gulf from Marchwood Military Port, Southampton (1) for the past ten days.
At the High Court today Mr Justice Thomas extended a temporary injunction granted last Friday banning Greenpeace protestors from boarding or attaching themselves to British military supply ships bound for the Gulf. He also granted an injunction preventing the Rainbow Warrior from obstructing vessels leaving the military port. However, the judge said the only basis on which he was prepared to make the Order was that the authorities the government (which has issued a Direction ordering the Rainbow Warrior to leave) recognised the right to protest in navigable waters.
Stephen Tindale, Greenpeace UK Director said, "Geoff Hoon's ham fisted attempt to throw the Rainbow Warrior out of Southampton and stifle anti-war actions has totally failed.
"War against Iraq would be immoral, and driven largely by George Bush's thirst for oil. There are more effective, peaceful ways of dealing with weapons of mass destruction. The Government knows that it's losing the argument for war so it's now trying to stifle dissent."
The Rainbow Warrior will be departing Southampton shortly - to support anti-war actions by Greenpeace's 32 offices around the world.
Stephen Tindale continued, "We have succeeded in delaying Britain's military build up in the Gulf. The Rainbow Warrior is leaving shortly to lead anti-war activities in other countries, but Greenpeace UK's campaign against the war will continue".
The injunction follows a series of actions by Greenpeace at Marchwood Military port over the past ten days. On Monday (28/01), the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior entered Marchwood and blocked the departure of the Magdalena Green, a UK military supply vessel headed for the Iraqi conflict in the Gulf. The Rainbow Warrior, along with a flotilla of small inflatable boats, occupied the port by dropping anchor and blocking the exit. Greenpeace climbers attached themselves to the front and sides of Magdalena Green and one if its loading cranes and painted NO WAR on its side and bow.
The action continued early on Thursday morning (29/01/03) when a team of Greenpeace volunteers boarded and set up a peace camp on the MV Lyra, a military supply ship bound for the Gulf with a cargo of military hardware, which was anchored off Lee on Solent, Hampshire.
On Saturday (1/02/03) Greenpeace resumed its peace blockade at Marchwood military port by anchoring the Rainbow Warrior directly in front of the military port where supply vessel 'Dart 8' is loading with helicopters, tanks and jeeps. On Saturday night the Rainbow Warrior was stormed by police, who cut the anchor chain and forced the ship away from the area.
Yesterday morning (4/02/03) Greenpeace activists set up peace camp in tanks waiting at Marchwood to be shipped to the gulf. 14 activists were arrested, then released on police bail.
Greenpeace will be joining the February 15th 2003 march against the war.
Notes for editors:
(1) Marchwood is the key UK port from which supplies are being shipped to the Gulf in preparation for a conflict. Supply ships have been loading day and night with helicopters, tank transporters, trucks and other military hardware.
The non-violent direct action by Greenpeace is part of the global campaign to prevent a military attack on Iraq that would kill hundreds of thousands of civilians and increase the chances of weapons of mass destruction being used.
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 (MEDACT). If war escalates to involve chemical or nuclear weapons the death toll could run even run into millions.
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. 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.
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 by the existing nuclear weapons states.
The war is clearly motivated by oil. The same forces that are backing the war are also opposing the US signing 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.
Any attack on Iraq would increase the threat from terrorism because it would further enrage peoples who consider themselves oppressed and push another generation of young people into the arms of terrorism.
Greenpeace press office on 020 7865 8255