Friday, 24 June 2011

Long term peace campaigner Brian Haw (RIP) loses fight against cancer.

Humanitarians of different faiths enjoyed a meal and gentle discussion on global persecution.


Brian was a warm, welcoming man his passion for peace was evident in the words he spoke and his actions.

The BPCA banner was displayed and held by people of different faiths.

Brian talked of his Christian faith openly and honestly.

Brian Haw is the stoic and determined character who selflessly gave his time and resource to challenge the decision by Britain to enter and remain, in the illegal and immoral Iraq and Afghanistan war on terror.  He passed away after a long battle against a debilitating  lung cancer and will now never see an end to the war  which he spoke out most vehemently against.

To vent his frustrations against the sanctions imposed on Iraq and the brutal affects of the war that had  created defects on a whole generation of Iraq's young children -caused by the use of depleted Uranium munitions - Brian left his family behind and took up permanent residence on the green outside the houses of parliament - taking shelter in a tent.

He was brought into the international spotlight on many occasions whilst being taken to the court, the Mayor of London and Parliamentarians, all of whom sought his removal from Westminster Green.  Brian was successful in most court proceedings, however in March this year Boris Johnson secured an order that required his removal from the green onto the hard pavement area.  Despite this extra inconvenience he continued to protest and his legend continue to grow.

I met with Brian during a peace picnic organised by the enigmatic Julius Salik a former Federal Minister form Pakistan.  During my short time with Brian I discovered his thirst for justice and peace and he revealed to me his strong evangelical Christian beliefs. Whilst talking of his faith however, he described the need for people of all faiths to work collaboratively and in harmony to introduce a global peace.  The Picnic was attended by people from a number of faiths.

Brian led the prayer for grace before our meal, using the opportunity to give God glory whilst calling for a more resolute campaign to see an end to war and tyranny.  He will be remembered as a great ambassador for peace and is a loss to the global humanitarian cause. His absence from Parliament square will no doubt be noticeable.

His campaign inspired me and seeing and reading about his constant campaign galvanised my heart to do more for Pakistani Christians and other minorities.  Though I must admit, I would find it very difficult to make the huge sacrifice he made.  He leaves behind a wife and 7 children who will no doubt mourn the loss of a figure or great importance in their lives and more globally. 

Mark Wallinger won a coveted Turner Prize for recreating Brian Haw's Protest encampment within the Tate Britain Gallery, illustrating the wide impact of his mission.  Moreover, Al Jazeera reported today that John McDonnell MP now plans to put a resolution (an "Early Day Motion") before the Houses of Parliament calling for the erection of "a monument to Brian Haw that celebrates peace, rather than celebrating war - as do many of London's great monuments".

It would not be fitting to complete this post without some words from Brian Haw himself describing why he was so passionate about an end to the "War on Terror." Speaking after a court appearance, he set out his intention to remain in the square for the rest of his life:

"We're there because our country is committing infanticide, genocide, the looting of nations. I'm determined to be there until they kill me. How much longer will that be?"
He also once said the children of Iraq and other countries were;
 "every bit as valuable and worthy of love as my precious wife and children".
"I want to go back to my own kids and look them in the face again, knowing that I've done all I can to try and save the children of Iraq and other countries who are dying because of my government's unjust, amoral, fear - and money-driven policies," he said.
I met Brian with his wife at the barbecue and the love, care  and support exhibited for one another suggest to me that his love for suffering people was immense.

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