[R-G] Volunteer "human shields" to head for Iraq
pieinsky at igc.org
Tue Jan 21 11:15:11 MST 2003
Volunteer "human shields" to head for Iraq
12 minutes ago
By Andrew Cawthorne
LONDON (Reuters) - A first wave of mainly Western volunteers will leave
London at the weekend on a convoy bound for Iraq to act as "human shields"
at key sites and populous areas in case of a U.S.-led war on Baghdad.
"The potential for white Western body parts flying around with the Iraqi
ones should make them think again about this imperialist oil war," organiser
Ken Nichols, a former U.S. marine in the 1991 Gulf War (news - web sites),
His "We the People" organisation will be sending off a first group of 50
human shields from the London mayor's City Hall building on Saturday, part
of a series of departures organisers say will involve hundreds, possibly
thousands, of volunteers.
Nichols' planned human shield convoys are one of several such efforts around
the world to mobilise activists in Iraq as a deterrent against military
strikes on Baghdad.
In Bucharest, more than 100 Romanian diehard communists said on Tuesday they
would travel by bus to Iraq to act as human shields in case of a U.S.
Members of the tiny Romanian Workers Party, which took the mantle of ousted
dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's defunct Communist party in 1995, said they
would set off next month to support "the cause of the people".
The new human shield plans revive memories of the 1991 Gulf War when
President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) forcibly held thousands of
Western hostages after his invasion of Kuwait.
Many were put near sensitive sites in a bid to stop attacks that proved
futile, although there are not thought to have been any casualties among the
Baghdad also used Iraqis, alongside some foreign volunteers, as shields in
1998 against U.S.-British bombing.
Nichols' groups intend to drive through Europe and the Middle East en route
to Iraq. The first will travel in a pair of double-decker buses, led by a
car with a white peace flag on it.
"We are on the verge of something big," said volunteer Christiaan Briggs,
26, from New Zealand. He argued that the stream of human shield volunteers
was symptomatic of radicalising anti-war opinion around the world.
"People know this is wrong. It is just so blatantly transparent how the U.S.
is trying to impose its hegemony."
"We the People" organisers said the self-financing human shield volunteers
had come forward from a range of Western nations including the United
States, Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain
There were also some volunteers from Muslim nation Turkey.
The major rallying point for Muslims, however, is in Iraq's neighbour
Jordan. There, a campaign led by leftist parties and civic bodies is seeking
100,000 shield volunteers.
Baghdad has welcomed the plans, but volunteers smart at suggestions that
they are handing a propaganda gift to Saddam.
Washington and London are sending troops to the Gulf and threatening
military action against Saddam unless he admits to possessing weapons of
mass destruction and disarms.
"It's laughable to say that we are working for Saddam when it was the UK and
the U.S. who gave him his biological and other weapons in the first place,"
"The hypocrisy is mind-blowing. The biggest threat to world security at this
moment is (U.S. President) George W. Bush."
Nichols said his involvement in the human shield programme was in part
"penance" for his participation in the Gulf War when a U.S.-led force drove
Saddam's troops out of Kuwait.
But those forcibly used as human shields by Saddam in the past are stunned
others are volunteering to do it.
"Putting yourself in danger is not going to help at all," said John Nicol, a
British air force flyer shot down in 1991 and later paraded on Iraqi
television. He was moved around by the Iraqis to various potential targets
and experienced allied bombing nearby.
"I doubt it would be a deterrent to any attack," Nicol, a journalist and
military analyst since leaving the air force, told Reuters. "I am shocked
that anyone would want to put themselves in such a situation."
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