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Wednesday, 6 December, 2000, 08:50 GMT
Yoko's anniversary peace call
Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono poses with one of her anti-gun posters (picture copyright Lenono)
John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono has called for the world to reflect on the horrors of "gun violence" in a message to mark the 20th anniversary of his death.

The 67-year-old, whose husband was murdered two decades ago on Friday, compared living in the US to "living in a war zone".

Lennon was shot dead by obsessed fan Mark Chapman on 8 December 1980 as he left his apartment in the Dakota building near Central Park, New York.

She recalled: "In early 1981, the coroner's office gave me back John's belongings in a plain brown paper bag. John was 'the king of the world.'

John - who had everything a man could ever want - came back to me in a brown paper bag

Yoko Ono
"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 many people have gone through similar tragedies, specifically because of gun violence."

Recently, Ono 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, alongside the words: "Over 676,000 people have been killed by guns in the USA since John Lennon was shot and killed on December 8, 1980."

She said in the statement that the figure was "10 times larger than the total number of American soldiers lost in the Vietnam War".

John Lennon
Peace campaigner: John Lennon pictured in 1971
"It's like we are living in a war zone," she added.

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

Many events are planned around the world for Friday, including a candle-lighting ceremony in Central Park.

A blue plaque will be erected outside Lennon's boyhood home in Menlove Avenue, Liverpool.

See also:

20 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Lennon's piano to stay in Liverpool
09 Oct 00 | Entertainment
'Happy Birthday' Lennon
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