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"The five Australian Human Shields based in Baghdad are not intimidated by Bush’s threats to bomb Iraq. All five are determined to remain in solidarity with the Iraqi civilians who will suffer greatly from the planned invasion of Iraq." Ruth Russell, Donna Mulhearn, Osama Al-Shaban, Patricia Moynihan & Rosemarie Gillespie (Waratah)



Media Release: Baghdad, 18th March 2003

From: The Australian Five Human Shields (Truth Justice Peace Human Shields)
PHONE:  +964-1-816-4400 ext 4666
(it can take a long time to get through to us on the phone, be patient)


The five Australian Human Shields based in Baghdad are not intimidated by Bush’s threats to bomb Iraq. All five are determined to remain in solidarity with the Iraqi civilians who will suffer greatly from the planned invasion of Iraq.

The Five Australians Human Shields in Iraq are:

* Ruth Russell, from Adelaide, and
* Donna Mulhearn, from Newcastle,
   both of whom are at the Taije Food Silo, phone 885 2846-7

* Osama Al-Shaban, an Australian citizen who lives and works in North Queensland,
   who is at the Daura Oil Refinery, telephone 7750300, extension 4337

* Patricia Moynihan, from Melbourne, and
* Rosemarie Gillespie (Waratah),
   both of whom are at the April 7th Water Treatment Plant, phone 443 6039.

All these sites are in Baghdad.

RUTH RUSSELL: Ruth is at the food silo site and staying there.  The food storage site is on the other side of the Tigris River from the Palestinian Hotel where the Human Shields Office is. Ruth will be stopped from coming into the Human Shields office if American, British or Australian bombers destroy the bridges across the River.  Her Statement is in the form of an open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia.



Once again, Australia is being shamed as a nation which no longer believes in international law, human dignity and peace.

Even yesterday, the UN Weapons Inspectors said that Iraq was compliant.

There has never been a convincing argument for military intervention.

I have come to Iraq as a human shield in deep despair and frustration that alternative non-violent resolutions were never ever considered by you.

The question I am constantly asked here in Baghdad is “We thought Australia was our friend -  so why are they doing this?”   There is no possible answer that I can give.

I believe now that the big question for Australians at home is - How can we change our Constitution so that we have a Prime Minister who must listen to the -

* legal profession who say that this war is “illegal” ie.outside international law

* medical profession, church leaders and humanitarian groups who say this will be a humanitarian disaster on a massive scale

* Anzac “heroes” and Vietnam veterans who say that the trauma of war lasts a lifetime

* The people of Australia who say this war and any future war is unacceptable behaviour for a civilised society to engage in.

I am a mother who has come here to be a human shield protecting a UN classified humanitarian site, the Taji Food Silo, North Bagdad, where much of the Australian wheat is stored and distributed to feed 5 million people.

If I am killed, then this will highlight the killing of innocent civilians.  My children will lose their Mother as will thousands of other Iraqi families lose their fathers, husbands, mothers and children.   We refuse to be called “collateral damage”   This is the ultimate insult and what this new type of militarism means that the people of the world are so opposed to.

As Australians we know that schoolyard bullying, domestic violence and murder in our community is illegal and totally unacceptable.  How can it be acceptable then for Australians to kill strangers in a foreign land???

Make no mistake this war will be “armchair killing” of innocent people.

I feel very sorry for the Australian servicemen and their families as they are placed in a very unenviable position- now being asked to do something which is dishonourable.

NOT IN MY NAME will such an act of extreme violence be done.

Ruth Russell  17 March 2003


34 years old, from Maitland in the Hunter Valley, near Newcastle, New South Wales. I’m still a young woman and I look forward to having a family in a world where my children can grow up in an environment of peace and tolerance.


My name is Osama Al-Shaban; I am 49 years old.  I am an Australian citizen living and working in North Queensland.  I have a Diploma of Engineering.  For the last five years I have been working for Tableland Concrete Blocks in Mareeba. I love my job and the people I work with.  I was born in Baghdad.

I came to Baghdad, the city of knowledge, as a Human Shield, to stand side by side with the Iraqi people against the war.  I know this war is an unjustified war.  Our mission is a peaceful mission based on truth, justice and peace.  The majority of the Iraqi people want peace.  The majority of Australians want peace.  I would like to thank the Australian people and the rest of the world for their solidarity and support for our peace mission.

I would like to send a message to the United Nations, to do their best to prevent the war from happening, and to apply the Security Council resolutions about Palestine as rigorously as it has applied the resolutions about Iraq.  Britain and the United States are applying double standards  Also I ask the United Nations to save the children of Iraq by lifting the sanctions.



I am in Baghdad as a Human Shield for a number of reasons, specific and general, all of which relate to the establishing of dangerous precedents in international relations that in my view have to be contested.

The First is waging a war which meets none of the criteria for a “just war”.  All objective assessments indicate that it is an invasion.  Given that 150,000 Iraqis died in the first Gulf War, it is likely that this invasion will result in enormous cost in human life.

Second, it is a war without the support of the United Nations. Despite American pressure placed on vulnerable nations, the democratic vote has been consistently and overwhelmingly against war.  The US and is allies have treated democracy with cynicism and contempt.

Third, in the absence of a balance of power, the policy of “pre-emptive strike” makes all nations subordinate to the will of the American government.  A profile is being drawn of a future in which the internal policies of countries will ultimately be subject to American control.

Fourth, here in the Middle East, geo-political relations are being re-shaped with the explicit objective of installing pro-American regimes that will be compliant with long term American interests.  In the meantime, a weakened American economy is being propelled towards recovery by any number of advantages of the war (to America) - oil, reconstruction, re-armament, the entry of corporations into a previously “closed” economy.  Iraq has become a political and economic prize.

In sum, the situation regarding Iraq is as serious as any faced since the Vietnam war, and as such is a test of what we will allow to be the case in our shared, global future.


I am a 62 year old grandmother of Aboriginal and European descent and a human rights lawyer, based at the April 7 Water Treatment Plant, situated by the banks of the Tigris River where it passes through Baghdad.

I have given birth, and remember the passion and joy of bringing new life into the world.  In all my days I never thought that such a thing that we are now facing could ever happen.  The planned invasion of Iraq, and the massive bombing campaign which will accompany it, is now only days away.  The rights of nations and peoples, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, are about to be trampled on.  As jet bombers go screaming overhead, dropping bombs causing mass destruction, remember the children of Iraq.

Despite the threats of mass bombing, I will stay, and stand with the people of Iraq.  I will defend with my life the rights of peoples and nations to freedom from invasion, freedom from fear, freedom from war.

The Apri 7 Water Treatment Plant processes water for three million people, more than half the population of Baghdad.  The International Committee of the Red Cross also has a presence there.  The Red Cross is producing thousands of litres of especially purified water for use in the hospitals of Baghdad, which in turn take in patients from all over Iraq.

If this site is bombed, it will be a war crime, a clear violation of international humanitarian law.  Bombing the water treatment plant would cause many thousands of deaths, from people being left with no alternative but to drink unsafe water.  Little children, with their tiny bodies, are most vulnerable to water borne diseases.  Thousands of children would die.

Please do what you can to stop this war.  If the Howard Government will not listen to the people, then it has betrayed the principles of democracy on which it was elected, and become a dictatorship.  Civil disobedience, including industrial action, is the only thing that will stop John Howard from sending in Aussie pilots to bomb us.

In love and peace, and if necessary, sacrifice.



PHONE:  +964-1-816-4400 ext 4666
(it can take a long time to get through to us on the phone, be patient)

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