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Lecturer quits to act as human shield for Baghdad power plant

A lecturer from Hertfordshire is among a group of peace protesters acting as human shields in Iraq.

Uzma Bashir quit her part-time job teaching social health and care at West Herts College, Watford, in January to join the collective of anti-war campaigners who have taken up residence at civilian sites in Baghdad.

The 32-year-old, who flew out at the end of February, has been stationed at the Durah electrical power plant in northern Baghdad.

While in Iraq, Miss Bashir and her fellow campaigners are under the care of their host group, Friendship, Peace and Solidarity - a non-governmental Iraqi organisation.

Until last year, she had never taken part in any form of political activism but is now resigned to staying in the country until the end of the conflict.

In a letter to Tony Blair earlier this month, Miss Bashir said: "I hope the British presence, including myself, will deter USUK bombing of this extremely important humanitarian site, which if bombed will not only stop power to hospitals, schools and homes but will also bring down sites such as water purification facilities which provide clean water to millions of Iraqi civilians."

Views on the conflict among union members vary, according to Peter Bold, the Natfhe rep at West Herts college.

Staff at the college are considering whether to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis.

Mr Bold said: "Natfhe's official position is that we're against the war, but it's not a centralist organisation and members are allowed to hold their own views.

"As far as human shields go, it's up to their individual conscience and choice and people are entitled to do what they want."

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