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Yoko calls for action on gun violence

LONDON, England -- Yoko Ono, widow of music legend John Lennon, has called for the world to reflect on the horrors of "gun violence" in a message to mark the 20th anniversary this week of his death.

With the hundreds of thousands of people who have continued to die from gunshots, she compared living in the U.S. to "living in a war zone".

Ono, 67, whose husband was murdered two decades ago on Friday, has been a fervent advocate of gun control over the years.

In her message she talks about how Lennon's death is being marked around the world - but points out it is "a time we should also remember how he died."

  MESSAGE BOARD
 

She conjured up a powerful image of how her husband -- "the king of the world" -- was snatched from her, with his belongings coming back in a "brown paper bag."

The superstar was shot dead by obsessed fan Mark Chapman as he left his apartment in the Dakota building alongside New York's Central Park.

Ono recently paid for billboards to be put up in New York, Los Angeles and Cleveland, Ohio, drawing attention to gun-related violence.

They feature a pair of smashed, blood-stained glasses, accompanied by the words: "Over 676,000 people have been killed by guns in the U.S.A. since John Lennon was shot and killed on December 8, 1980."

Ono said: "The last millennium was so violent, particularly the past century. When I flipped through the pages of a book of photographs, The 20th Century, I almost wanted to stop seeing what was coming next.

"So much cruelty was revealed, page after page. I was appalled and humbled at the same time. It was a reminder to me that I am not the only one who suffered a sudden and painful loss in my immediate family.

"The year 2000 marks the 20th anniversary of John's murder, and I've learned that almost every country in the world has planned some sort of memorial to remind people of his life and work. However, I believe this is a time we should also remember how he died.

"In early 1981, the coroner's office gave me back John's belongings in a plain brown paper bag. John was the 'The King of the World'. John -- who had everything a man could ever want -- came back to me in a brown paper bag in the end.

"I want the world to know that. I also want to show how many people have gone through similar tragedies, specifically because of gun violence.

"The number of people who have died by gunshot since John's death is 10 times larger than the total number of American soldiers lost in the Vietnam War. It's like we are living in a war zone.

"I want us all to realise that, so hopefully the healing process can begin. John would have wanted to say this to you."

The couple undertook a series of high profile stunts to campaign for peace in the late 60s and early 70s including their Canadian "bed-in."

A blue plaque is due to be erected outside Lennon's boyhood home in Menlove Avenue, Liverpool, on Friday to mark the anniversary of his death.



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