Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Brian Haw RIP

Brian Haw, peace campaigner extraordinaire, died on Saturday. His contribution to the peace movement was inspiring and very important - he will be sadly missed.

Brian spent more than 10 years camped out the front of the Houses of Parliament seeking to remind our political masters of the blood on their hands. His opposition to the appalling crimes being visited on the people of Iraq and Afghanistan was vigorous, impassioned and sustained.

I had the opportunity to camp with Brian for one of the 3600 odd nights that he spent in Parliament Square. It was a privilege to participate in his protest and made me appreciate his sacrifice even more: lying on icy ground listening to Big Ben bonging away every 15 minutes aint much fun... But it wasn't about fun, it was about standing up for what mattered, and Brian did that in his own irascible way when far too many voices had fallen quiet.

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A measure of the importance of Brian's protest: an impossibly pompous Tory politician, David Tredinnick, appeared on the Today programme yesterday morning to witter on about the importance of removing the camp now that Brian has died and opening the space for the people. He pontificated about the importance of access to parliament and to Westminster abbey, claiming that Brian's camp was an obstruction.

David Tredinnick is a liar and a cad, and he should have more respect for a dead man's grieving family. Brian's camp obstructed no one who wanted to enter parliament or the abbey; the entrances to both could be accessed by anyone who wanted without going anywhere near the camp. What is more, there are many of us who believe that reclaiming Parliament Square for the people is precisely what Brian Haw was doing. The people never wanted the war in Iraq and they don't war the war in Afghanistan, but our political masters simply ignore the people and carry on. The people need folk like Brian Haw to be a thorn in the side of parliament, that house of fools.

* * *
The resistance continues. I got this in my inbox today:
Three English Catholic Workers were today convicted at Newbury Magistrates Court of Criminal Trespass under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA), and Criminal Damage.

The convictions follows a protest at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in September 2010 organised by the Catholic Worker. The three, Susan Clarkson (64), Chris Cole (47) both from Oxford, and Fr Martin Newell (42) from London were Conditionally Discharged for 18 months and ordered to pay £553 each costs and compensation. The three had created a gateway in the outer fence of AWE Aldermaston and attached a sign say ‘Open for Disarmament: All Welcome.”

In their evidence the protestors described the massive development currently being undertaken at AWE Aldermaston and argued that the developments were in contravention of both the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Brian would be proud.

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