View Full Version : Human shields lose autonomy

03-11-03, 11:36 PM

Body blow as human shields ordered out
March 8 2003
By Paul McGeough

The international "human shield" is on the brink of disintegration after some of its leaders - including Australian Gordon Sloan - said they had been ordered to leave Iraq.

Their numbers had been thinning as war becomes imminent, but on Thursday night came predictions that as many as half the 120 remaining "shields" would quit in the wake of a rowdy meeting with a senior Iraqi figure who they claimed had compromised the autonomy of their volunteer organisation.

Travelling on two London double-decker buses, the shields arrived to a great welcome in Baghdad about two weeks ago, claiming they would independently select non-military targets at which to place themselves as a gesture of solidarity with the Iraqi people - not the regime.

Their numbers rose to about 300, including a half-dozen Australians. The sites where they had been setting up camp in the hope of thwarting US bombing runs included water treatment plants, power stations and an oil refinery. But on Thursday two members - one of them Ken O'Keeffe, the former US marine turned peace protester who instigated the shield project - predicted they would be escorted to the Jordanian border as early as yesterday. Three others said they also had been told to go.

All the group's dealings with the Iraqis have been through the office of a powerful local identity - Abdul Al-Hashimi, president of the Organisation of Friendship and Solidarity but better known outside Iraq as Saddam Hussein's spokesman during the 1990-91 Gulf War, when he was ambassador to Paris. Dr Al-Hashimi could not be contacted.

Mr Sloan said the former diplomat had called a group meeting on Thursday evening, after he had insisted on the group's right to check the security of a new list of shield sites provided by Dr Al-Hashimi. "It started nice enough, but then Dr Hashimi said that he no longer recognised our committee and that in future he would deal with us only in national groups. He also ordered us not to operate as a committee any more," Mr Sloan said.

"I was effectively told that the Iraqis would decide which sites we would go to. And he accused us of forcing ourselves into leadership positions in the shield and of dictating to its members.

"Ken O'Keeffe was the only one of the five to be expelled that he named, but when I demanded that he name the others, he said that I would be thrown out too."

Mr Sloan, who quit as a Sydney architect to join the shield, said members were spread over six sites, which he described as "UN-endorsed", but some "Italian subversives" had insisted on placing themselves at a Baghdad communications site that almost certainly would be a target.

Until this week the shield had been working from an Iraqi list of likely civilian targets but had run their own detailed checks to ensure sites were not near military targets and had adequate facilities for shield members who might have to camp for weeks.

"Some members want to try and sort this out, but it's too late. Our autonomy has been jeopardised; we have been compromised. Anyone who comes to join the shield now runs the risk of being sent to a site that hasn't been properly vetted for their safety. Those who have already decided to leave with us include eight Turks, nine Spaniards and three Argentinians."

Two remaining Australians - Donna Mulhearn, former NSW government press officer, and Ruth Russell, a city councillor from Adelaide, are understood to have "happily" returned to their shield sites at a food warehouse.

03-11-03, 11:43 PM

Wary British 'human shields' leave Iraq

March 2, 2003


BAGHDAD--Almost all of the first British "human shields" to go to Iraq were on their way home Saturday after deciding that their much-heralded task was now too dangerous.

Two red double-decker buses slipped quietly out of Baghdad on the long journey back to Britain, carrying most of the 11 protesters with them.

Nine out of the original 11 activists decided to pull out after being given an ultimatum by Iraqi officials Friday to station themselves at targets likely to be bombed in a war or leave the country. Two left immediately by taxi and six others boarded the buses Saturday night, bound initially for Syria.

The Iraqi warning follows frustration among Saddam Hussein's officials that only about 65 of the volunteers had so far agreed to take up positions at the oil refineries, power plants and water-purification sites selected by their hosts.

It heightened fears among some peace activists that they could be stationed at noncivilian sites. Protesters who moved into the power station in south Baghdad last weekend were dismayed to find it stood next to an army base and the road south to Basra.

Sunday Telegraph

Well ****ing DUH!

I was hopin' fer a few Darwin nominations here!

03-11-03, 11:47 PM

2003 Humor Is Dead

Phish Back On Tour: Human Shields Leave Iraq
Veggie Burrito Supply Runs Out

Heading out to the show at Chemical Weapons Arena, seen in background

Bummer - bus breaks down on way back to Baghdad after Phish are no-shows

3/4/03 - Thousands of "human shields" left Iraq last weekend as news spread that popular jam band Phish was back on tour. In fact, according to reports coming from Baghdad, many human shields thought they were going on Phish tour when they left for the Middle East. The confusion seems to have arisen when a popular Phish fan site errantly reported that the first leg of the tour would start in Baghdad, when in fact it is Bangor where Phish is planning on playing.
"We're disappointed - we may have already missed a few shows. But I must say, the hummus over there is fantastic," said one fan.

Last week, thousands of fans assembled at Chemical Weapons Arena outside of Baghdad, eagerly awaiting the show. After a few days, the crowd started to doubt that Phish would show.

One fan summed up the feelings well: "I thought I ate a bad batch of mushrooms, dude. We were waiting in line for hours to get into the place and the vibes just weren't cool. There were soldiers and guns and tanks and stuff. It was a bad scene. Plus, we were running low on supplies and the water at the arena tasted really funny."

Others were there to protest the upcoming Bush Adventure in Iraq, and actually intended to act as human shields should bombs start falling. But when supplies ran out and hallucinogens wore off, many found themselves, as one attendee put it "scared ****less."

Many fans had never even left their upper middle-class suburbs except to drive to and from Phish shows and were taken aback by peoples of Arabic origin - people whose behavior they found mystifying and frightening.

Unconfirmed reports are surfacing that most of the "Phish Phans" were purposely misinformed about the supposed Baghdad show in a right wing effort to "get rid of the peaceniks once and for all." Those who made such accusations were promptly bound, gagged, and shipped to Gitmo.

03-11-03, 11:48 PM

'Human shields' catch bus back
Activists said they were assigned to likely military targets
Monday, March 3, 2003 Posted: 8:54 AM EST (1354 GMT)

The road to Baghdad had already proved bumpy with breakdowns, punctures and squabbling.


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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Most of the British human shields who traveled to Baghdad in red double-decker buses are returning home before a gunshot has been fired because of "safety fears," organisers say.

Many of those returning are concerned for their safety after the Iraqi authorities began dictating which sites they could "protect," said Christiaan Briggs, a co-ordinator for the action group in Baghdad.

Briggs told the UK's news agency Press Association: "Now we are being told we cannot go to certain sites, such as hospitals, so we are reassessing our strategy.

"I must stress the people on the bus were always intending on going back. The aim was always a mass migration and if we had had five to ten thousand people here there would never be a war.

"We do not have those numbers and a lot of people were always intending to go back before the bombing campaign started."

The two buses, which left Baghdad Saturday, are thought to be heading towards Syria.

Abdul al-Hashimi, head of Saddam Hussein's Peace and Solidarity Organization, ordered the volunteers to disperse to nine sites in Baghdad or leave, Britain's broadsheet newspaper, Daily Telegraph reported. Most of the activists thought they would be "shielding" schools or hospitals, but instead found themselves assigned to power stations, oil refineries and water purification plants.

"We had been told we would go to humanitarian sites, specifically hospitals," Ken O'Keefe, the former U.S. marine who led the activists, told the newspaper. "But we've now been told that we can't go to those places. The human shields strategy will not work under these circumstances. The level of trust is not present now."

Nine of the 11 British human shields in the bus convoy had left Baghdad, the Telegraph said. Among them was 68-year-old Godfrey Meynell, a former High Sheriff of Derbyshire, who was assigned to protect Baghdad South power station but admitted that he was leaving out of "cold fear."

A 22-year-old student from Pennsylvania assigned to an oil refinery told the paper: "The people staying there sleep 50 yards from stacks billowing black smoke.

"And it's sinister: twenty minders are there for eight shields. There are three security gates, including one manned by plain-clothed guards carrying AK47s."

U.S. officials have said that it is a "war crime" to use civilians as human shields and that there is no way of guaranteeing their safety.

Briggs estimated around a dozen remained in Baghdad and said he and others may now act as witnesses rather than human shields.

"I said right from the start, I was prepared to die but when I knew I had a chance of affecting change," he said.

Grueling journey
The original bus protesters were the first British human shields to arrive in Baghdad, on February 16, after a grueling 3,000 mile journey from London.

They encountered many problems on their way, including O'Keefe who at one point was forced to stay behind in Rome to fix a broken-down bus before having to fly on later to Damascus.

Other setbacks included punctures, running out of petrol, route alterations -- and according to British media reports -- squabbles between different activist factions.

On Friday, the head of Sweden's largest peace organization urged human shields to leave Iraq, saying they were being used for propaganda purposes by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Maria Ermanno, chairwoman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, cited reports that Iraqi officials were arranging transportation, accommodation and news conferences for the human shields.

"To go down to Iraq and live and act there on the regime's expense, then you're supporting a terrible dictator. I think that method is entirely wrong," Ermanno told Swedish Radio.


Copyright 2003 CNN. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

03-12-03, 12:01 AM

Group of British "human shields" heads home, cites safety fears
Sun Mar 2, 1:35 PM ET

LONDON - Some of the British peace activists who traveled to Iraq (news - web sites) to serve as human shields in the event of war are heading home amid fears for their safety, their spokesman said Sunday.

Christiaan Briggs said up to a dozen protesters had left Iraq because of fear or financial worries. They were among a group of mostly European activists who drove from London to Baghdad in two double-decker buses last month, intending to guard civilian sites from U.S.-led military attack.

But Briggs, a spokesman for the group Human Shield Action Iraq, told Britain's Press Association news agency that Iraqi authorities had limited the sites the human shields could visit.

"Now we are being told we cannot go to certain sites, such as hospitals, so we are reassessing our strategy," he said.

The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported that nine of the 11 British human shields in the bus convoy had left Baghdad. Briggs said about a dozen Britons remained in Iraq.

Gordon Sloan, another spokesman for the human shields, later said that hundreds of human shields remained, but that was not as many as organizers had hoped for.

"We believe that a mass migration to Iraq has not occurred. We don't have thousands of people here, we have hundreds which is different," Sloan told BBC television.

"Now it's more about protecting sites than stopping a war. We have done our best to voice opposition to this war. If the war is going to go ahead I don't think we have the numbers in Baghdad to be an effective deterrent."

U.S. officials have said that it is a "war crime" to use civilians as human shields and that there's no way of guaranteeing their safety.

On Friday, the head of Sweden's largest peace organization urged human shields to leave Iraq, saying they were being used for propaganda purposes by Saddam Hussein (news - web sites).

Maria Ermanno, chairwoman of the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society, cited reports that Iraqi officials were arranging transportation, accommodations and news conferences for the human shields.

"To go down to Iraq and live and act there on the regime's expense, then you're supporting a terrible dictator. I think that method is entirely wrong," Ermanno told Swedish Radio.

03-12-03, 12:32 AM
Human Shields say goodbye

"All my relatives and friends were saying that I must be out of my mind, I'm happy I can to my senses."

Many left because of fear.
I wonder why?

Many went with one thought in mind but the Iraq's had other things in mind.
The Human Shields were ordered out.

Of the orginal 50 from Britain, only two are now there.
How sad!
We should have creamed the idiots.
I bet they would have crapped in their panties.

Semper Fidelis

Semper Fidelis

03-12-03, 12:36 AM
Human shields say 'So long'

The drawback of a career as a human shield is, of course, that one day you might actually be called on to be one.

This realization has caused the peace activists who flocked to Iraq to deter a U.S.-led attack by serving as human shields to rethink that proposition.

After entering the country to much favorable publicity about their idealism, they are scurrying back out as war seems imminent. Of the 50 anti-war protesters from Britain who arrived in a convoy of double-decker buses, only two were left last week.

Safely back in London, one ex-shield told a reporter, "All my family and friends have been telling me I must be mad to be a human shield. Seeing what is really involved, I have now come to my senses."

In Amman, Jordan, and out of the shield business, Canadian Bruce McRae told the Toronto Globe and Mail, "Overall, we weren't prepared enough for this."

It seems the Iraqis and the peace activists had differing ideas about the role of human shields.

The visitors saw themselves as protecting schools, hospitals and residential areas.

But the Iraqis noted that in the event of war the schools would be closed and that the Americans, with their precision-guided munitions, weren't likely to hit hospitals and homes.

Instead, the Iraqis wanted to station their human shields in power plants, water treatment facilities, oil refineries and warehouses. To their horror, one groups of shields found themselves being assigned to an army base on the southern approaches to Baghdad, a base the shields easily envisioned being obliterated on the opening night of the war.

The peace activists' plan to be human shields was based on a naive and flawed premise -- that their presence would dissuade the United States and its allies from depriving Saddam Hussein of his weapons of mass destruction by force.

The use of human shields is forbidden under longstanding international laws of war. If the shields were to stay and die in a futile defense of a legitimate military target, American war planners and pilots would be saddened, but the Iraqi officers and officials who deployed the shields would be facing an international war crimes tribunal.

Semper Fidelis