Members of 'peace camp' deliver tales of Baghdad WAR IN THE GULF

January 24, 1991|By Dan Fesperman | Dan Fesperman,Sun Staff Correspondent

AMMAN,JORDAN — AMMAN, Jordan -- They assembled in a hotel room to deliver a message of peace. But the images they offered were of the thunder and lightning of war, and the fear and need of its victims.

"There was massive anti-aircraft fire and explosions as missiles JTC hit," said Bruce Wolcott, a commercial photographer from Seattle. "We witnessed the destruction of a power plant, a petroleum processing plant and a telephone tower that was a communications center."

"There was a fire at an oil refinery that lit up the night sky," said Dan Winters, a computer science professor from Boulder, Colo. "It was one of the areas that seemed to be a frequent target of bombing."

Mr. Wolcott and Mr. Winters are members of the Peace Camp, an international group of about 100 people who pitched their tents on Christmas Eve in the Iraqi desert about two miles from the Saudi Arabian border.

Last week the camp began breaking up the day before the war began, and on Tuesday an advance guard of 14 departing campers reached Jordan after an occasionally harrowing journey that took them through the air raid shelters of Baghdad.

Yesterday, seven members of the group held a news conference to plead for an end to the fighting.

For the most part, their accounts seemed to back allied claims that

most of the bombing has been limited to military and strategic targets.

None reported seeing civilian casualties during their journey, though they did see homes that had been flattened by bombs.

The worst effects on Iraqis, they said, were deprivations that have resulted from the attacks. "In Baghdad people are short of food and water," said Miller Davidson, a British social worker. "And we're equally concerned about the children and the old-age pensioners having to go down into the air raid shelter every night."

"I don't think any of us ever thought the camp by itself would prevent a war from happening," Mr. Wolcott said. He said they had hoped to spark activism elsewhere that would pressure world leaders.

Mr. Davidson said the group decided to break camp last week "because we felt we could do more good outside telling people what was happening there than we could by staying and using up the resources."

Members of the group said they cared little if Iraq used them for propaganda purposes. "We were not concerned with who was right, who was wrong, who started it or who retaliated," Mr. Winters said. "It's like seeing a broken body at an auto accident. You don't stop to ask which driver was at fault."

About 80 members of the Peace Camp remain in Iraq, and a few may still be camped along the Saudi border, he said. "We've heard from the Iraqi people that they were all well."

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