BALEARICS CALLED ON TO JOIN THE HUMAN SHIELDSBy Humphrey Carter
THE first wave of Spanish Human Shield sets off from Madrid on February 16 and Rosa Maria Salleras was all ready to close up her Portals home and head off with them to Iraq. The last time Rosa Maria took part in any form of protest action was during her university days, the typical student issues, she said yesterday.
On Saturday, she will march through Palma with thousands of anti-war protestors - the first proper rally she has ever taken part in. Rosa Maria is no activist I'm a shy person and lead a quiet life, I've never done anything, but this time I feel I've got to do something, my time has come, she said yesterday, admitting that it could cost her her life. While just 16 people will fly from Madrid to Amman on Sunday to link up with the Human Shields from London, Rosa Maria and those already on the list for the second Spanish wave, hope that if they can get several hundred Europeans into Bagdhad, they may be able to make a difference. Rosa Maria is using her time between now and the departure of the second wave of Human Shields from Spain to increase awareness in the Balearics, calling on locals to join the cause as the regional Human Shield representative. The Spanish organisation is called Caravana de EPI (Caravana de Escudos al Pueblo de Irak) and the open return ticket to Amman cost 456 euros. Each member has joined independently and it will be their choice whether to remain in Iraq or come home if and when the war starts. However the contingency plans for getting the Humans Shields out of Iraq will be decided there and then in Baghdad. For those leaving next week, there is no organised journey home and organisers are not relying on the Spanish government to get them out. It's a major gamble, it's a very dangerous protest we are making, Rosa Maria said, but she is prepared to make it and hopes others will join. Amman is becoming the centre-point for peace activists. A local hotelier is providing free accommodation and his hotel as a meeting point, but all the Human Shields and other organisations are ready to relocate to Syria if Jordan gives its full backing to the United States and starts making their life difficult. Each member is given a guide book before setting off with recommended advice on how to behave and dress in Arab countries and also what vaccinations to have, and emergency medical supplies for those intent on remaining in Iraq if war breaks out, sleeping material and some guidelines as to how much money to take and a daily budget to try and stick to. Once in Iraq, the Human Shields will be deployed to strategic civilian sites such as schools and hospitals before, as more and more people arrive, the Human Shields spread out to other major towns and cities in Iraq. Caravana de EPI will post a Spanish website within the next few days, in the meantine, Humanshield.org is co-ordinating the operation.
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