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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 10:12 GMT
Human shield 'a success'
Joe Letts
Joe Letts is bringing his buses back home
An anti-war campaigner who took two double-decker buses to Iraq so he could act as a human shield claims his mission was a success.

Joe Letts, 52, from Dorset, and around a dozen passengers, are heading home after travelling out to Iraq to protest against the threat of war.

The protestors abandoned their human shield mission early - despite ridicule from some quarters - after leaders in Baghdad began to dictate which sites should be "guarded".

But Mr Letts told the BBC that, despite his early departure, he believes the time that was spent in Iraq was useful.

He said: "Something like 40 countries were represented by the shields there and what we've succeeded in doing is talking to all our press and media back home and getting attention on the plight of the ordinary people, which is what we went for."

Protestors were keen to be used to protect hospitals, schools and other public buildings.

Instead, many were frustrated by the insistence of Iraqi leaders that the campaigners were sent to key infrastructure sites supplying water, oil, food and power.

But Mr Letts praised the Iraqis and added: "I didn't intend to stay in Baghdad for more than four or five days and stayed longer to help with organising the deployment into the various sites - the power station and oil refinery, water purification, food storage, those sorts of sites that are so important to the Iraqi people."

Mr Letts, who owns the two buses and a taxi used in the trip, said that although his group had left Iraq more human shields were arriving in the capital, Baghdad.

A total of 200 people from around the world have travelled to Iraq as part of the International Truth, Justice, Peace, Human Shield Action Group.

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19 Feb 03 |  Politics

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