Protest Blair’s visit to SA – Calls for his arrest
Pic: (File; An anti-war demonstrator, dressed as bloodied former British prime minister Tony Blair, stands outside the Iraq war inquiry 2009. Getty Images)
24 August 2012
People with blood on their hands are not welcome to South Africa. That’s the message from the South African Muslim Network (Samnet) as the country prepares for the arrival of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
He will be attending a Discovery Leadership Summit , 30 August 2012, at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg. “We believe, given his track record particularly in Iraq, that he should be embarrassed at the very least or a citizen’s arrest attempted when he is in South Africa,” said Dr. Faisal Suliman of Samnet.
An international reward has been posted for anyone who attempts to arrest Blair with thousands of pounds up for grabs.
“This is not a hoax,” said Suliman . “Three people have already been paid out for just attempting to arrest him. A woman in Ireland, Kate Sullivan, just walked up and said: Mr. Blair, I arrest you for war crimes and she was paid out about £3000 and somebody else got £5000 at a book signing in Hong Kong.”
The website, arrestblair.org, has run the international campaign where anyone who attempts to arrest Blair for crimes against peace stands to receive the monetary reward and although an actual arrest would be highly improbable, it would undoubtedly create political resonance.
“It is essential that they are pursued peacefully and calmly, not least for your own safety: at no point should you create the impression that you mean to harm him, or you could be harmed yourself,” the site recommends to anyone who will attempt to carry out the citizen’s arrest.
“The method we recommend is calmly to approach Mr. Blair and in a gentle fashion to lay a hand on his shoulder or elbow, in such a way that he cannot have any cause to complain of being hurt or trapped by you, and announce loudly, “Mr Blair, this is a citizen’s arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge…You are advised not to put yourself at risk of charges of assault or false imprisonment. In other words, do not cling onto Blair or attempt to drag him anywhere.”
Protest action will also be taking place outside the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday. “As people of conscience, we should at the very least be demonstrating,” said Suliman. “We need to send out a message to the country as a whole, that whoever wants to invite someone with blood on their hands for whatever cause, they should know that by coming to South Africa you are not going to have a free ride.”
The US invasion of Iraq, supported by the UK under the leadership of Blair, has caused the deaths of between 100,000 and one million people.
The attack was supposedly provoked by the imminent threat Iraq presented to world peace with weapons of mass destruction.
“A series of leaked documents shows not only that these contentions are untrue, but that Bush and Blair knew they were untrue. The Downing Street memo, a record of a meeting in July 2002, reveals that Sir Richard Dearlove, director of the UK’s foreign intelligence service MI6, told Blair that in Washington, ‘Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,’” according to arrestblair.com.
Why we want Tony Blair Arrested’
From an open letter to the President of The United Nations General Assembly, the Attorney General of the United Kingdom, and their successors in office:
“We… call on you to indict Anthony Charles Lynton Blair[Tony Blair] in his capacity as recent Prime Minister of the UK, so long as he is able to answer for his actions and however long it takes, in respect of our sample complaints relating to the 2003 Iraq War waged by the UK as ally to the United States of America.
We are concerned that without justice and respect for the rule of law, the future for us and our progeny in a lawless world is bleak..
The following are our sample complaints relating to the Iraq War 2003-2009:
1: Deceit and conspiracy for war, and providing false news to incite passions for war, causing in the order of one million deaths, 4 million refugees, countless maimings and traumas.
2: Employing radioactive ammunition causing long-term destruction of the planetary habitat.
3: Causing the breakdown of civil administration, with consequent lawlessness, especially looting, kidnapping, and violence, and consequent breakdown of womens’ rights, of religious freedom, and child and adult education.
4: Failing to maintain the medical needs of the populace.
5: Despoliation of the cultural heritage of the country.
6: Supporting an ally that employs ‘waterboarding’ and other tortures.
7: Seizing the assets of Iraq.
8: Using inhumane restraints on prisoners, including dogs, hoods, and cable ties.
9: Using Aggressive Patrolling indiscriminately, traumatising women and children and wrecking homes and property.
10: Marking bodies of prisoners with numbers, writing, faeces and other degrading treatment.
11: The use of cluster bombs and other indiscriminate weapons including white phosphorous on “shake and bake” missions.
12: Supporting indiscriminate rocket attacks from F16 fighter planes on women and children in Fallujah in Nov 2004
13: Supporting the shooting up of ambulances and medical personnel in Fallujah in Nov 2004
14: Supporting the expulsion of the entire population of Fallujah save for young men of military age, for a reprisal attack on that city in Nov 2004.
*Tony Blair will be attending the Discovery Leadership Summit , 30 August 2012, at the Sandton Convention Centre, in Johannesburg
29 August 2012
Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, has withdrawn from the Discovery Leadership Summit scheduled to start on Thursday because of the presence of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Tutu has refused to share a platform with a man who is seen as one of the chief architects of the illegal invasion of Iraq that led to deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Tutu said Blair’s support for the Iraq war was “morally indefensible” and it will be “inappropriate” for him to appear alongside him.
“Ultimately, the archbishop is of the view that Mr Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible,” his office wrote to organisers.
Blair’s office expressed regret and was sorry that Tutu has withdrawn.
Meanwhile protest action is still to go ahead outside close to the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg where Blair will be speaking tomorrow.
The picket is being held to support a warrant of arrest to charge Blair for crimes against humanity relating to the invasion of Iraq.
The City of Johannesburg granted permission to the Al Jamaah political party after an application was made by them almost three weeks ago.
Party leader, Ganief Hendricks, said, “The picket is scheduled to take place between 2pm and 5pm at Speaker’s Corner. We also have permission from the police to protest in front of the headquarters of Discovery Health who did the country a disservice by inviting Tony Blair to the country to speak on leadership. We are very excited that Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has also disassociated himself from the event.”
Blair sorry over Tutu
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed sorrow on Tuesday at Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s decision to withdraw from a conference they were both attending in Johannesburg. “Obviously Tony Blair is sorry that the archbishop has decided to pull out now from an event that has been fixed for months and where he and the archbishop were never actually sharing a platform,” his office said in a statement.
Tutu said on Tuesday it would be “inappropriate and untenable” for him to share a platform with Blair at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit, being held at the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday. This was related to Blair’s decision to join the United States in its invasion of Iraq in 2003. Blair’s office referred to Halabja massacre, where “thousands of people” were killed by deceased Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s chemical weapons, and to the Iran-Iraq war, as reasons for his decision to join the invasion.
“As far as Iraq is concerned, they have always disagreed about removing Saddam by force. Such disagreement is part of a healthy democracy,” it said. “These decisions are never easy morally or politically.” Tutu’s office said the summit had leadership as its theme, and this could not be separated from ideas of morality. “The archbishop has spent considerable time over the past few days wrestling with his conscience and taking counsel from trusted advisers with respect to his attendance at the event,” it said in a statement.
“Ultimately, the archbishop is of the view that Mr Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible.” Tutu regretted “inconveniencing and disappointing” the summit organisers. Blair is one of the speakers at the event. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Russian chess grandmaster and political activist Garry Kasparov are also expected to speak.
Muslim political party Al Jama-ah said on Monday it planned to protest against Blair outside the convention centre. “The demonstration is being held to support a warrant of arrest to charge him for crimes against humanity relating to the invasion of Iraq which led to the killings of millions of Iraqis,” said Al Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks.
Hendricks said the City of Johannesburg was allowing the party to hold its demonstration. “It is hoped that one or more demonstrators will be able to make a citizen’s arrest on the day and put Tony Blair in jail and extradite him to the Hague for trial.” The website arrestblair.org has offered monetary rewards to people who try to make a citizen’s arrest of Blair for alleged crimes against humanity. Attempts to arrest him have been made in China, outside the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, at the European Parliament, and in Dublin, Ireland. SAPA