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Cycling for peace

Peace campaigner Andrew Greig setting off on his 1,100 mile journey in northern Unst on Thursday.

A VETERAN peace activist and his wife have travelled from Australia to start a campaign to end lethal warfare beginning in Shetland.

Andrew Greig began his 1,100 mile journey on Thursday at the north end of Britain’s most northerly isle, Haroldswick in Unst.

By the end of July he hopes to have reached the Scilly Isles, raising awareness about the growing interest in non-lethal technology on the way, with back up support from his wife Libby.

Speaking from Toft on Friday evening, the 72 year old said the police and the military are already developing and using non-lethal technology, such as stun guns or Tasers, flashing lasers and entangling nets.

He warns that the trillions spent on manufacturing ever more sophisticated lethal weaponry is pushing us ever closer to nuclear conflict without solving the underlying problems that lead to war.

Instead, he believes, a fraction of that sum could be spent on developing non-lethal weapons to protect ourselves and bring about peace.

Greig’s journey as a peace activist began in Zaire in 1994 where he was helping the charity CARE Australia help refugees from the genocide in Rwanda.

“I saw bodies all over the place and I thought we should not be behaving like this; there must be better ways,” he said.

His campaigning led him to the idea of non-lethal weapons, a relatively new field which is attracting growing interest, especially in military circles.

One new technology being developed involves millimetre waves, which can be fired at an individual causing pain without hurting them.  

“This sort of technology is at a very early stage with a few hundred million being spent on it every year.

“If we invested a small part of the trillions spent every year on lethal weapons we could develop a useful alternative to killing people,” he said.

Greig says he chose the UK for his campaign as it supports one of the biggest arms industries in the world.

He hopes to meet military officers and politicians as well as citizens on his lengthy jaunt across the country.

One of his first moments in the spotlight will come next week when he arrives in Orkney in time for the commemoration of the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago at the same time as Princess Anne.

Meanwhile he is enjoying the support of Shetland Islands Council during his journey through the most northerly isles and is hoping to meet SIC convenor and Mayor for Peace Malcolm Bell.

More information about the campaign Shetland to Scilly – New Technologies for Peace can be found here.  

There is also a short video explaining the issue on YouTube here.