Brian Haw, Parliament Square, April 2008 © Pete Brook

Sad news this weekend. Global citizen and hero of the anti-war protest movement Brian Haw died aged 62 on the 18th June. His efforts, legacy and importance can be learnt about at http://www.brianhaw.tv/index.php

For nearly a decade, Brian Haw held a permanent presence in Parliament Square outside the UK Houses of Parliament. The only time he left the “camp” was to attend court hearings – many of them involving attempts by authorities to evict him.

While Haw was undergoing treatment for lung cancer in March, London Mayor Boris Johnson won a court ruling to finally evict Haw.

In 2007, Haw was voted ‘Most Inspiring Political Figure’ by the viewers of Channel Four.

That same year, artist Mark Wallinger recreated Haw’s protest inside Tate Britain. Wallinger won the Turner Prize for art a few months later.

Uncompromising and committed beyond the capacities of most others, Haw’s protest was a visual reminder to every single UK member of parliament that Bush had an agenda, Blair was wrong and the war on Iraq was waged on a pack of lies.

Haw actually began his protest in June 2001; against economic sanctions and the effects on civilian populations, particularly children. That’s a full five months prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001. Did he tap the zeitgeist? Did he intuit that the western powers were about to embark upon a decade of imperialist military incursion? Will an activist-commitment such as his – that captures the hearts and attention of a nation – exist again? One hopes so.

R.I.P. Brian.

Brian Haw’s camp, Parliament Square, April 2008 © Pete Brook
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