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Leaders, stars in peace march
Tue, Sep 29, 2009
AFP

WELLINGTON (AFP) - A WORLD march for peace, endorsed by a galaxy of leading figures in politics, sport and entertainment, will start in New Zealand on Friday and criss-cross the globe over three months.

The 160,000-kilometre march has been organised by the World Without Wars organisation, part of the Humanist Movement, and will cover 90 countries before ending in Argentina on January 2.

Spokesman Micky Hirsch said the World March for Peace and Nonviolence has been three years in the planning and was designed to start on the United Nations International Day of Non-Violence on October 2.

It is also the anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, who led the non-violent resistance against British colonial rule in India.

Mr Hirsch said the march would be an unprecedented social mobilisation pushing for an end to war, the dismantling of nuclear weapons and an end to all forms of violence. New Zealand was chosen as the starting point 'because it has done a lot for nuclear disarmament and for human rights,' Mr Hirsch said.

The hundreds of prominent figures to endorse the march include the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta, Hollywood stars Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen and Penelope Cruz, tennis player David Nalbandian, pop star Bryan Adams and Yoko Ono, the widow of slain former Beatle John Lennon.

A rehearsal march in New Zealand this week was led by Warrior Princess star Lucy Lawless, who walked beneath a Chinese-style dragon made from the sails of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, sunk by French agents in Auckland in 1985.

World March organisers plan to highlight 'positive examples of peace-making that usually do not make the press,' said New Zealand mother-of-five Juanita McKenzie, who will be one of a team of core marchers.

'There is so much publicity about violence that people become disempowered and believed that peace is not possible,' Mr McKenzie said.

As the march passes through cities there will be various conferences and events. The marchers will also carry with them a 'nuclear abolition torch' taken from the Hiroshima Flame which was lit from embers following the 1945 nuclear explosion in Japan.

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