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Friday, January 28, 2011
Blair sneaks into Chilcot before dawn
by Caroline Colebrook
FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived for his second session with the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War at around 7.30am in the dark to avoid being confronted by demonstrators who want to see him tried as a war criminal for his role in launching the illegal invasion of Iraq.
Nevertheless some protesters were there to see him and scores more soon joined them, holding banners calling the ex-premier a liar and chanting “Tony Blair – to The Hague”, where war crimes tribunals are held.
One man wore a Tony Blair mask and handcuffed himself to a mock prison cell door to loud cheers from his colleagues.
Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop The War Coalition, said: "Yet again he has sneaked in under cover of darkness, mirroring the way in which he launched his illegal war in 2003.
"Hopefully later today he will be asked to tell the truth about the legal advice he was given by Lord Goldsmith and also be challenged publicly about the contents of his letters to George Bush which he is still keeping secret."
Peter Brierley, whose son, Lance Corporal Shaun Brierley, died soon after being deployed to Iraq, said he was not surprised that Blair arrived early and avoided being confronted by the protest, as he did last time he was questioned by the inquiry.
"He cannot be questioned properly here because he can just walk out any time he chooses. He should face a proper court and be questioned by barristers and lawyers. He should face a criminal investigation because he is a war criminal.
“He killed my son and I will continue campaigning until he is brought to justice."
Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn (Islington North) said it was a “disgrace” that letters exchanged between Blair and former US president George Bush were not being made public.
"If this inquiry means anything then all the relevant papers must be released."
Bruce Kent of CND told the protesters: “Tony Blair must know that the game is up because fellow members of the establishment are now beginning to turn against him.
“What he did was a disaster and he effectively put two fingers up to the very fragile structure put in place to try to save generations from the scourge of war. How many other thugs and bandits around the world are now saying, well if he can get away with it, so will we?"
John Rees, one of the founders of the Stop The War Coalition, said the inquiry was a waste of money which would not get to the truth of the Iraq war.
The coalition said there were growing calls for Blair to face a war crimes tribunal, where all the correspondence between Blair and Bush could be revealed.
Meanwhile a Tory MP has admitted that Britain and the United States have lost the legitimacy and trust necessary to find a resolution to the war in Afghanistan
Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, said we're making up reasons for being in Afghanistan: “After nine years, the international community needs to recognise it lacks knowledge, it lacks power, it lacks legitimacy."
Students protest in London
Students and trade unionists took to the streets of central London and Manchester last Saturday in a continuation of the protests at rising tuition fees, the abolition of Education Maintenance Allowance and cuts in general that hit the headlines in the last weeks of 2010.
These were the first major demonstrations since late last year, when students occupied Parliament Square in London and attacked a car carrying Prince Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall.
The coalition government plans to cut £2.9 billion of state support a year for universities in order to tackle a budget deficit now at about 11 per cent of national output following the global financial crisis.
In London students gathered in Malet Street in the heart of London University and set a cracking pace – to avoid being “kettled” – to the designated end of the march outside Milbank.
This building, which houses the headquarters of the Tory party, had been ransacked in a previous demonstration. But this time the students swept straight past it and headed on to the Egyptian Embassy, where they joined Egyptian ex-patriates in a solidarity protest with the anti-government demonstrations in Cairo.