Ruth Russell Human Shield

      Women in Peace

Interview with Ruth Russell back in 2007

Ruth Russell at home in Adelaide

Ruth Russell at home in Adelaide



“I had decided to be prepared for suicide. I had a roll of glad wrap, which when wrapped around the face, would suffocate you in 3 minutes. This was in case I was wounded badly or unable to speak.  I had a tattoo of my passport number on my arm.   You had to be prepared for every eventuality.”


A peace activist, who went to Iraq in 2003 as a human shield in the hopes of averting the war.
A human shield stands side by side with the Iraqi people.    In 2003 opposition to the war was mounting daily, but it seemed that no-one was listening to people who didn’t want war.

Many people from the coalition of the willing countries, did not want war.  These people needed to be seen, to be given a voice.   The Geneva Convention states that certain areas should not be bombed: food silos; water treatment plants; electricity for civilians.    However, during the 1991 gulf war, food silos had been bombed by the British in disregard of the Geneva Convention.    As an Australian, and aware of our big wheat exports to Iraq, I decided to go to the wheat silos.
(These are NOT military sites, but sites designated as essential humanitarian sites)

Shock and Awe the bombing of Bagdad

Statue in Baghdad

A new idea, was “Shock and Awe” that you could drop your first 3,000 bombs on a capital city, Baghdad, made up largely of civilians.

My Russian History Professor  Margaret Allen, said something, that 25 years later   I acted upon .

“At certain times in the history of the world it only takes a nominal 12 people to stand up against a dictator”

Once I had made the decision all kind of opportunities opened up for me to have a really powerful voice.   Suddenly all the media, papers and TV studio and radio were interested.   I realized that I had the power to make a difference.  But then! The day I was to leave Adelaide, my front door was surrounded by the media.  On the day I left, I was on the front page of the Adelaide news.
When the tank battle stopped we expected them to enter Taji and for us to be arrested and taken to Guantanamo Bay.

Issues of gender equality and integrity are key to me, for the progress towards peace.   

I have a deep seated understanding that violence will never bring lasting change.
We are against domestic violence., We are against violence in the community, between neighbours, Why should we accept violence between countries?

If you make comprises with your values and compromise your ideals, you will never be free.
You can do what is right, or just be silent.



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