Sunday, 19 June 2011

Don't Forget Brian Haw!

Brian Haw died in his sleep at the age of 62 after a struggle with cancer. In the last 10 years he has become a fixture of Parliament Square in a perpetual state of protest which defied the people responsible for the deaths of over 1 million Iraqis in war, who were eager to break him with the changes to law which David Blunkett likened to a "sledgehammer". Months ago Boris Johnson won a court order to evict Brian Haw, supposedly in preparation for the Royal Wedding, just as Boris had stamped out Democracy Village back in 2010. It was just when Haw was being treated for cancer in Germany that the Mayor, in collusion with David Cameron and Theresa May, decided to make his move and Haw immediately appealed the order in spite of his deteriorating condition. In fact, it was just as the Con-Dem Coalition came to power in May 2010 that Brian Haw was arrested for perhaps the last time at 8:30am.

Over the years there were consistent attempts by the Establishment to bring his 24 hour protest to a halt. He was repeatedly arrested and taken to court by the British government, which supposedly stands for enshrined notions of bourgeois freedom. Every time Haw won so much more cunning methods were used to force him out of Parliament Square. Protest outside Parliament, without permission, was banned in 2005 and only Brian Haw was exempt because his demonstration began years before the law was passed. Oh the absurd intricacies of legal wrangling! There were efforts to evict him by force and when that didn't work the government restricted the demonstration to 1 metre by 3 metres. The most recent efforts have limited the protest to the pavement and now it looks like the protest will be kicked off of the pavement and would no doubt disappear as a result.

It is important to remember that Haw began his protest outside of Parliament in 2001, first of all against the fresh round of sanctions imposed on Iraq by Western governments and then against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Brian Haw was the son of one of the soldiers who liberated the concentration camp of Belsen. As an evangelical Christian he was deeply concerned with the suffering of oppressed peoples around the world, he had visited Northern Ireland during the Troubles and Cambodia's Killing Fields. Sadly, it would appear that Tony Blair has the last laugh in this instance and that might be a testament to the nonsense that is Karmic retribution. It is at least a testament to the moral fibre of how society that Tony Blair has gotten away with the outright war crime in which he indulged so enthusiastically. Over 1 million people have been slaughtered in Iraq, along with millions left deformed and dispossessed in the economic reforms imposed without the consent of the Iraqi people.

Iraq had been first subjected to sanctions by the United Nations soon after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 and the US struck back at the disobedient client state. In the 1990s the sanctions led to the deaths of over half a million children and possibly more people than the number of people who were killed in the atomic bombs dropped on Japan. Before the sanctions Iraq was a developed country, rich with oil and dependent on imported food. In 1996 the UN Security Council permitted Iraq to sell oil in order to secure food and other essentials for it's people. The control of the capital accumulated from the sale of Iraqi oil was under the Security Council, which was in turn dominated by the US. The special sanctions committee responsible for what is allowed to flow into Iraq in exchange for oil consistently opposed the rejuvenation of vital services such as power and water.

The country was permitted to restore it's oil industry as supplies of food and contracts for equipment were withheld in New York. The worth of the equipment exceeded $1.5 billion and included the equipment needed to diagnose and treat cancer, as well as X-Ray machines, the tools necessary to put out fires and even toilet soap. The stated purpose of these sanctions was to "pacify" Iraq by forcing it's government to stop building weapons of mass-destruction. In one instance, Britain blocked vaccines for yellow fever and diphtheria from being exported to Iraq on the grounds that the vaccines might be used in weapons of mass-destruction. The country was basically held to ransom, of which the Iraqi people suffered the real consequences and Saddam Hussein held onto power in the meantime. Though the Ba'ath regime was left crippled, it only clinged to power because of the impact of the sanctions on the Iraqi people and looks likely that Saddam would have been deposed in the Arab Spring.

1 comment:

andreasmoser said...

I wonder if Brian Haw and the rest of the "Peace Camp" ever noticed the irony of protesting against all kinds of wars under the amused eyes of Winston Churchill:

Nonetheless, may Mr Haw rest in peace.