Iraq Grants Anti-War 'Human Shields' Entry Visas
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
ANKARA (Reuters) - A group of around 50 Western anti-war activists received visas Tuesday to enter Iraq where they plan to form "human shields" in an effort to deter a possible U.S.-led attack on the Arab state.
The volunteers said at an impromptu news conference in the Turkish capital they hoped their presence and the possibility of Western casualties would encourage U.S. political leaders and military planners to re-think any plans to bomb Baghdad for its alleged development of weapons of mass destruction.
"I am an American human shield on this trip to Baghdad to try and stop this war," said volunteer John Rosse.
"I ask American troops headed here...not to come, they have no business being here. They do not make good ambassadors. They are here to kill, murder, devastate the civilian population of Iraq. That is not an American thing to do."
The group is traveling across Turkey in a convoy, including a red double-decker bus, that is expected to cross into Syria on Wednesday before entering Iraq. The volunteers left London late last month and headed overland across Europe.
On arriving in Iraq, they plan to disperse to populated areas of Baghdad and other parts of the country. Critics have said they are naively playing into Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's hands.
Turkey last week deported Ken Nichols, a former U.S. marine who helped organize the "human shields" campaign, after he tried to enter the country using documents describing himself as a "citizen of the world."
Edward Cranswick, a seismologist who works for the U.S. government, said he wanted to raise awareness among Americans.
"I believe I am doing a small bit to raise attention, particularly (among) the American public...I want to be a human being alongside the Iraqis and that will get the attention of Americans," he said.