George Monbiot’s arrestblair.org campaign awarded me with a bounty of £2,420.89 this week for my attempted arrest of Tony Blair. This comes on the day Desmond Tutu refused to share a platform with Blair.
Last Thursday, I attempted a citizen’s arrest of Tony Blair for crimes against peace as he was about to present a speech at Hong Kong University about faith. It seems particularly dubious for the ex-British Prime Minister to address the subject of religion, as he has done so much to enrage the Muslim world and thus set back religious tolerance by decades.
My confrontation with Blair came during the deadliest week of violence in Iraq since the US pull-out, and a day after the International Criminal Court prosecutor asked judges to hand down their first sentence to a fellow war-criminal, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. All current ICC investigations and prosecutions are related to African nations, yet Mr Blair’s status as an ex-Western leader does not exempt him from its founding Rome Statute, to which Britain is a signatory
Some will find the comparison absurd but there is little moral difference when the products of their respective leaderships were mass human rights violations against civilian populations. Blair has requested that people “move on” from the Iraq War yet, with documented civilian deaths now totalling at least 107,013, leading QC Michael Mansfield has confirmed that there now appears to be enough evidence to trigger an ICC investigation. Legally, the type of weaponry deployed in the war (depleted uranium and cluster bombs) can be described as ‘indiscriminate’, thus making him liable for mass civilian causalities.
Radio interview with Phil Whelan, Morning Brew - RTHK Radio 3, 18.6.12
Update 2: I am eligible for a share of the ArrestBlair.org ’bounty’ offered to those who attempt a citizen’s arrest of Mr Blair. I will donate the sum – of around £2400 – to relevant charities (including the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza). The site was founded originally by British Guardian journalist and writer George Monbiot.
Update 1: The attempted arrest took place at around 5:50 Hong Kong time, 14/6/12. I approached Mr Blair within moments of his arrival on stage – I was prevented from waiting next to him for the police. I stated the following within a couple of metres or so in front of him…
On Saturday, October 15th 2011, hundreds of protesters occupied Exchange Square in Central. Since then, dozens of activists have been occupying the space beneath Central’s HSBC building. Here are a few links to local/international coverage:
Tom on Reuters (video), on TVB (video) Sina (press), CRI English (radio) and a longer quote on RTHK 3 (radio) after the Exchange Square protest on 15.10.11.
An unpublished piece I wrote about the relevance of #OWS in Hong Kong…
At a time of deep cuts and austerity measures in Europe and the US, booming Hong Kong is enjoying such a surplus that the government is offering personal US$700 bail-outs to all residents, subsidising electricity bills and allowing families in public housing free rent for 2 months. However, not all is as it seems beneath the Tiger Economy’s glittering skyline.
Last Saturday, over 300 ‘Occupy Hong Kong’ activists gathered at the city’s Stock Exchange. As the freest economy in the world and the third most favoured tax haven, one would doubt that the thriving ‘Capital of Capitalism’ would have seen anything of the Occupy Wall St movement. However, the turnout exceeded all expectations as demonstrators were keen to raise awareness of the territory’s shameful growing income disparity.
Last week, China Gold International (2099/ TSX: CGG) floated on the Hang Seng. Protests accompanied the Canada-based/China-owned company’s simultaneous HK$2.4 billion ($309 million) IPO on the Toronto exchange too. Since 2009, Tibetans near the GGI Gyama copper mine have protested water contamination, pollution and forced settlement of nomads. Two farmers, Sonam Rinchen and Thupten Yeshi were tortured and sentenced for up to 15 years in prison for demonstrating. Richen died as a result of repeated torture. More info here / our press release.
Our peaceful Friday mini-demo attracted clothed and undercover officers, a paddywagon and a police cameraman – the police-to-protester ratio was about 10:1 (at excessive cost to the taxpayer, no doubt). We draped a banner across a busy road bridge and attempted to enter the Stock Exchange, but it wasn’t until we retrieved Tracey the mannequin (my most loyal housemate) and installed it as ‘artwork’ did it have a big impact. Appropriately, the exhibition venue was an old prison which closed in 2005…