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Sign the Pledge of Resistance against an attack on Iraq
 
 

 

BRIAN HAW PARLIAMENT SQUARE PEACE PROTEST IS 2 YEARS OLD


PRESS RELEASE 29 May 2003

This weekend Brian Haw will be marking the 730th day of his permanent 24 hour peace vigil opposite the Houses of Parliament in Parliament Square. This anniversary makes Mr Haw's protest one of the longest-lasting individual public protest of modern times.

When he started in June 2001, Mr Haw, a father of seven from Worchestershire, had only a few signs bearing the names of young children who had died as a result of economic sanctions on Iraq. He supplemented these with carefully painted banners pointing out to both the politicians and the public the huge suffering that the sanctions policy, supported by the UK government supported, inflicted on the people of Iraq.

Over the months, people began to visit him and bring placards they themselves had made. With the events of 11 September 2001 and the declaration of the 'war on terrorism', Brian's protest grew in size and reputation. He has had numerous visitors from all over the world, many leaving placards with messages of peace, helping to create what is now a powerful display which challenges the government's foreign policy. The international media have broadcast his message around the world in documentaries, news reports and interviews.

In October 2002 he won a major legal victory when the High Court refused to grant an injunction to Westminster Council to remove him from Parliament Square. The judge ruled that Mr Haw was exercising his right to freedom of speech and the pavement obstruction was not unreasonable.

Mr Haw said, "I have had the people of the world on this pavement. Peace is more popular than Parliament."

He added "Contrary to the hopes of the government that protest will end now that the war on Iraq is said to be over, I will not go away. Its not over for people in Iraq - thousands more of the people are now dead and the occupiers are still there. I feel so incensed - we are talking about dropping bombs on people, on murdering people. Its not enough to say we don't mean to - it doesn't make it alright. And the murderers are allowed to profit from
their crimes. How can humanity, the world, allow this blatant smash and grab?

"They went ahead no matter how much people protested and we are now being asked to just accept it. I can't accept it. Here is a picture of a little girl with the back of her head blown off. All you have to do is put yourself in the place of this girl's parents. They will never thank us for 'liberating' them. And now we have 'saved' them, we are selling them water."

For more information contact:
Emma Sangster on emma@drifting.demon.co.uk
Brian Haw can be visited in Parliament Square at any time.


One of Brian's first displays.
It details the names of children
who died under sanctions in Iraq.

 

Anti-sanctions and anti-war vigiler wins right to continue protest
October 2002

On Friday 4 October a High Court judge refused to grant an injunction to Westminster City Council which would allow them to remove Brian Haw who has been protesting against war and sanctions on Iraq for 16 months opposite the Houses of Parliament.

When he came out of the court Brian's first thoughts were about the people for whom he is protesting - the children of Iraq who have died in their hundreds of thousands because of sanctions and war. He held up a picture of a young Iraqi boy who died in terrible pain of cancer, on Christmas Eve 1997, because the right medications were not available.

Brian said " I can't live with this. I've got seven children. This could have been one of mine. War will be a shear catastrophe. Aid agencies are saying that the country is already devastated. There was a glorious demonstration on Saturday where everyone stood up for the kids - we can't sit down again until the kids are safe."

A 15 minutes film about Brian called As Long as it Takes is available for screenings. Contact the filmmaker.



Visit Brian or send him a postcard of support
c/o Parliament Square, London SW1A

Also see www.parliament-square.org.uk

The following article is from The Guardian.

Judge lets traffic island protest go on
Owen Bowcott
Saturday October 5, 2002 The Guardian


Peace activist Brian Haw, who has lived on a traffic island for 16 months, yesterday defeated Westminster city council's legal challenge to remove his solo protest against the government's policy on Iraq.

A high court judge, Mr Justice Gray, ruled that Mr Haw was exercising his right to freedom of speech in Parliament Square, central London, his placards did not constitute advertising, and the pavement obstruction was not "unreasonable".

Mr Haw, 53, a father of seven, from Redditch, Worcestershire, is a committed Christian who believes international sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children. He says he is horrified by the prospect of renewed war against the country.

He began his protest on June 2, 2001, and has amassed a large number of placards denouncing US and British bombing of Iraq.

The council, seeking an injunction to end the vigil, is considering appealing.

Giving his decision, the judge said that Mr Haw's placards only extended up to 2ft across an 11ft wide pavement. "This application raises questions as to the interaction between the right and the duty of a local authority to remove obstructions from its highways on the one hand, and the right of the individual citizen to use those highways to exercise his or her right to freedom of expression on the other hand."

"I am not satisfied in the circumstances of this case that there is any pressing social need to interfere with the display of placards so as to protect the right of others to pass and re-pass [the highway]," Mr Justice Gray said. Relatively few pedestrians used the pavement around the centre of Parliament Square.

One significant aspect of the case was an individual's right under article 10 of the European convention on human rights, which guarantees freedom of speech. He added that he was "not persuaded" the defendant's placards could be considered advertising.

Objection might be made on the grounds that the protest was an eyesore, but there was evidence that Mr Haw took pains to keep the area clean and tidy.

"Looking at the issue of reasonableness in the round and taking account of the duration, place and purpose and the effect of the obstruction, as well as the fact that the defendant is exercising his convention right, I have come to the conclusion that the obstruction for which the defendant is responsible is not unreasonable," he concluded. "I decline to grant the injunction."

Mr Haw, who has received sworn statements of support from Tony Benn, the former CND leader Bruce Kent, and the Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas, appeared in court in a black T-shirt with Don't Attack Iraq emblazoned across his chest.

After the ruling, Mr Haw raced outside the courts to embrace a Buddhist monk and nun who had held a vigil outside the Royal Courts of Justice and told them: "God sends us good judges."

He pointed to pictures of sick Iraqi children, declaring: "This has been hidden from our people for so long. This is an abomination. If the people knew what is being done in their name in Iraq, they would be horrified." Asked how long he would continue his protest he said: "As long as it takes. When do you give up on the kids?"

A Bristol magistrate yesterday adjourned until December 2 the case of peace protester, Jo Wilding, who is challenging customs and excise's decision to confiscate dates which had been imported from Iraq in contravention of international sanctions.