I should have been arresting Tony Blair today

By Symon Hill
September 8, 2010

In my diary for today – Wednesday 8 September – I had written, “Arrest Tony Blair”. Along with several others, I had planned to join the queue at Blair's book signing in London. On reaching the front of the queue, each of us would have attempted a citizen's arrest for crimes against peace.

All four of us – Chris Wood, Anna Clark, Kathleen Bright and myself – are committed to nonviolence and sought to approach Tony Blair in a spirit of love and justice rather than vengeance or bitterness.

Blair cancelled the book signing two days ago, saying that the protests involved would have caused lots of “hassle” for the police. He suggested that there might be violence.

This followed Blair's book signing in Dublin, at which customer Kate O'Sullivan attempted to arrest him and hundreds joined protests outside the shop. I'm sorry to say that there was some violence, and some of the protesters appear to have been supporters of the Continuity IRA, who are in no position to lecture Tony Blair on the unjust use of force. But the vast majority of protesters were peaceful and this would also have been the case in London.

A citizen's arrest would have been a calm and peaceful protest. I suspect that there were other groups or individuals planning something similar. No doubt we would all have been bundled out of Waterstone's pretty quickly. But we would have confronted Blair with a reality that his memoirs deny.

Of course, we need far more than a trial to address the hideous legacy of the Iraq war. In this country alone, not to mention the world, we could do with a truth and reconciliation process. This might make some contribution to healing the wounds and sorting the truth from the lies.

Until then, attempts to arrest Tony Blair, George Bush and others will be a reminder that those responsible for the invasion of Iraq have not yet been held to account. And we will never have justice in a world that allows the poor to be punished while the powerful walk away from the consequences of their decisions.

The writer and activist George Monbiot has set up a website, www.arrestblair.org to encourage peaceful attempts at a citizen's arrest of Tony Blair.

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