Ready to die for peace

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 03 Apr 2003

AMMAN: South Korean businessman Lee Chang Yong sat and waited patiently for a visa to enter Iraq so that he could be a human shield, undaunted by the return of several activists to Jordan recently. 

A group of Indians from Bombay similarly submitted their visa applications at the Iraqi embassy here on Monday. 

“I know my family is very worried,” said the 44-year old Lee. His wife cried when he left South Korea and his parents tried to persuade him not to go. 


“But I told them not to worry. I must go to Baghdad. My government has sent soldiers to Iraq and we are against that. We want peace, not war.”  


Lee said he was part of a 12-member South Korean peace team, two of whom were already in Iraq.  


“I must join the team there. I don’t want to die. But if I do, that is okay because it is for peace,” said the father of a 14-year-old when met at the embassy crowded with Iraqis and journalists intending to travel to Iraq. 


Outside the embassy, the Indian group of nine, led by religious Raza Academy founder Muhammad Saeed Noorie, said they would be staying in schools and hospitals that had become targets of missile attacks. 

“We believe in destiny. If we are destined to die, by the grace of Allah, we are prepared for death,” said the Qadri sect spokesman Muhammad Sohel Noor. 

He said they felt the pain of the Iraqi people and no bombs would stop them from going to Iraq although several peace lovers who had entered the country as human shields earlier were already back in Amman. 

Eight South African human shields, including one suffering from injuries, were among the first to turn up at the Ruweished border town three days after the US bombings started on March 19. 

Last Saturday, six Americans, two Japanese, an Irishman and a South Korean were forced to leave Baghdad by the Iraqi authorities for venturing into streets without authorisation while 23 other Christian peace activists remained behind. 

Others said they were let out to tell their story to the world. 

An American grandmother, Peggy Gish, pointing out that she held no grudge over suspicions on human shields, said she understood the fear of the Iraqi authorities under the circumstances of the senseless war. 

“Actually, it is important for me to go home now to speak of all the sufferings I have seen in Iraq and to set the record straight because what we get through our media is pure propaganda,” Gish, a farmer from Ohia was quoted as saying on her return here. 

Gish, who spent five months in Baghdad, felt that the so-called war waged by the United States to liberate the Iraqi people was an absolute lie.  

“No liberation is going on when we destroy their families, culture and terrorise their children,” she said. 

Gish and fellow activist Kara Speltz of Oakland, who shared her views on the war, described it as a war not between the people of America and Iraq but between two dictators, US president George Bush and his Iraqi counterpart Saddam Hussein. 

The returning peace activists said they saw anti-personnel bombs like those used in the Vietnam war shooting out pellets not to kill the Iraqis but to maim them.  

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