New Internationalist

Why I attempted to arrest Tony Blair last week

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 (ICC) 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 107,000, 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.

As I put to Blair personally, he is answerable to the sixth 1950 Nuremburg Principle which forbids ‘wars of aggression’ and gave rise to the Rome Statute – I also stated that he defied articles 31 and 51 of the UN Charter. Leaked Downing Street memos from 2002 reveal his determination to follow the US into Iraq despite knowing his government would be violating the two aforementioned UN articles which would permit an invasion.

In fact, the later discredited evidence of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction was irrelevant to Blair as he admitted during the 2009 Chilcot Inquiry that he would have attacked Iraq regardless as to whether such WMDs were discovered.

Blair responded to the charges I put to him by joking to his audience how he’s ‘used to’ such protests and how ‘that’s democracy for you.’ I do not know whether he believes the incident showcased freedom of speech or whether he was lamenting such political rights, but Britons will be familiar with the erosion of civil liberties he brought about in the UK. His Orwellian legacy leaves fewer effective options remaining in the activist’s toolbox.

Neither the coalition nor the opposition harbour much political appetite for a domestic criminal investigation, I therefore encourage members of the public to heed journalist George Monbiot’s call to challenge Blair directly and pursue peaceful citizen’s arrests against him.

My own attempt turned out to be the least controversial thing I’d ever done – the public seemed unified across comment sections and social networks, from the left and right, that there is a strong case against him. However, he continues to travel freely around the world earning millions as head of a complex, opaque mix of political, business and philanthropic ventures. He commands huge sums from the financial industry and even accepted £13 million ($20.4 million) to advise brutal Kazakh autocrat Nursultan Nazarbayev.

It was improbable that Hong Kong police would uphold local law and frogmarch the ex-PM to The Hague, but there has been some success in renewing awareness of the outstanding legal questions. One day, it is hoped the charges will stick and he may finally find himself in court. In the meantime, it is important that the pressure is maintained, that the media spotlight is constant and that Mr Blair rightly continues to feel the threat of prosecution wherever he goes.

Tom Grundy, 29, is a British activist based in Hong Kong. He is eligible for a bounty of £2400 ($3,760) from for his arrest attempt which he will donate to relevant charities such as the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza.

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  1. #1 Jonathan Smith 19 Jun 12

    Great job, Tom.

    But ’at least 107,000’ deaths-- that and the other few hundred thousand.

  2. #2 Taylor 19 Jun 12

    Let me please balance the ledger of rational voice for all of you not residing in Hong Kong. While I am loathe to feed the publicity Mr. Grundy yearns for, please take some time to digest the following.

    Mr. Grundy acquires satisfaction from seeking publicity from all forms of media. Period. His prime motivation is to promote himself, as opposed to highlighting injustices.

    Mr. Grundy purports to have support from various social networks, ‘from the left and right.’ This may be true to some extent; however Mr. Grundy has also attracted a plethora of comments begrudging his self serving antics, both in Hong Kong and abroad.

    The forum at which Mr. Blair spoke allowed for Q & A at the conclusion of Mr. Blair’s speech. Put simply, if Mr. Grundy really had wanted to highlight Blair's role in the Iraq war, he should've simply asked Blair questions pertaining to that. Then the focus would've been on Blair, not Mr. Grundy. But then, that was never Mr. Grundy’s intention.

    In Hong Kong, there are many people that can see through his self-serving, self-righteous shenanigans. I certainly hope those of you who have taken the time to read this message, can do so too.

  3. #3 Tom Grundy 19 Jun 12

    @'Taylor': In fact, the only negativity has been concentrated amongst just 4 existing HK-based online harassers I've never met whom - for years - have created accounts and pseudonyms as part of odd, years-long hang-ups they harbour against me personally.

    Asking questions at the Q&A would definitely not have garnered the renewal of public debate I succeeded in achieving. I kept it concise, factual, avoided scuffling or drama and have refused all personal questions from the media.

  4. #4 Sam 19 Jun 12

    @Taylor: The 'many people' you speak of who can 'see through his self-serving, self-righteous shenanigans' are a vocal minority who, strangely enough, draw attention to the very thing that they object to about Mr Grundy. In every part of their anonymous, repetitive diatribe online, they attack him personally, even though they have never met him. They take objection to his actions on the basis of personality traits they assume he has, with little evidence other than the strength of their own prejudice.

    They do little to explain any problems they might have with his actual activism, and they do not object to the fact that he has quietly and consistently been plugging for the same causes for years. Many of these causes and/or events get little or no attention unfortunately, but Tom is there doggedly all the same. The whole point of a lot of activism is just what it says on the tin - it's about being active, and raising awareness. What Mr Grundy did when he stood up last week was to renew awareness of a cause that he and many others believe in, and also perpetuate the goal of I do not believe putting questions to Mr Blair would have had much of an impact - the whole reason the 'Arrest Blair' campaign exists is precisely because Blair has not as yet been answerable to the public, and people want answers.

    I am quite sure that Mr Grundy felt confident and clear of his intentions as he went into this protest, as in others, and it was evident he did a lot of research. He firmly believed it was the best he could do to bring awareness to the issue. Any posts quibbling his motives are not only as self-serving to their own personal agenda as they claim Grundy to be - they are also, on another level, irrelevent. Tom puts himself out there in public, using his real name, and bravely says his piece. For this he opens himself up to criticism of course, and many do not support his action. Do you think that's going to make one bit of difference to him though, when he has bigger fish to fry? Expending effort condemning it as self-serving when Mr Grundy will just carry on doing what he does best regardless...well, good luck with that.

  5. #5 Nick Harvey 20 Jun 12

    I find it hard to see how this act is 'self-serving' or how it would have been better to highlight Blair's role in Iraq by getting involved in the Q&A session. I can see the headlines now: 'Blair asked tricky question in Hong Kong Q&A session.' Keep doing what you're doing Tom. Those who argue against you for doing things like this obviously have their own agendas.

  6. #6 deena 21 Jun 12

    Tom Grundy is a HERO. Just because Taylor clearly lacks the courage and moral clarity to challenge those who speak Truth to Power, doesn't mean he needs to denigrate the work of those braver and wiser. Taylor probably thinks Gandhi, Dr. King, and Mandela are camera-whores. Keep up the WONDERFUL work, Tom Grundy. All truth sayers are ridiculed in their time but vindicated by history.

  7. #7 Alan 21 Jun 12

    Well done Tom Grundy. Even if he was 'self-serving' as his detractors claim (and I've no idea to be honest, I don't know the man) so what? What he has highlighted is that Blair is an absolute disgrace and has got away with (quite literally) murder - and be in no doubt murder on a grand scale. LIke Bush, Blair walks free, when in fact he should be banged up for the rest of his life, and the key thrown away.
    The murderers walk free and the innocent go on being slaughtered. Where the hell is the justice in that? In fact they make Blair peace envoy to the Middle East! I'm reminded of American comedian Tom Lehrer who said: political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize. Indeed...

  8. #8 Embee 22 Jun 12

    Thank you for doing the right thing, Mr Grundy.

  9. #9 Margaret Wilde 22 Jun 12

    Very well done to Tom! We all need to do what we can to hold the powerful to account when they abuse that power.

  10. #10 sue cox 12 Jul 12

    respect to Tom for voicing what a lot of people think should happen to Blair the war criminal and his friend Bush I too hope the day will come when he is sentence in court for his crimes I think tom is very brave considering they silenced Dr Kelly.

  11. #11 John Andrews 30 Aug 12

    Nice one, Tom.

    One thing baffles me: why would anyone pay money to listen to Bliar speak.

    Best wishes

    John Andrews

  12. #12 Amoeba 30 Aug 12

    IANAL, but it does seem that to a layman, that double standards are operating wrt to Bliar and Bush, when compared with other nations.
    It's about time that we had a detailed and extensively verified explanation as to why the invasion of Iraq was legal. Which, if my memory serves correctly, has not yet been provided. I am of course disregarding the clearly suspect and apparently fictional accounts that have been offered so far.

  13. #13 Bruce Knobloch 30 Aug 12

    Congratulations on your effort. May others follow you and justice eventually be done against all NATO (and Australian) war criminals too. Congratulations too to George Monbiot for initiating the citizens' arrest prize

  14. #14 Akos Horvath 30 Aug 12

    Good job, keep up the good work.

  15. #15 covnanny 16 Sep 12

    Well done!!!

    What a poor excuse for a man that Blair is. He is the only person in this world whom I truly hate for the lives he destroyed.

    He WOULD be on trial if there was any justice in this world.

  16. #16 On Reflection 22 Jan 14

    I salute you Sir for trying to arrest this evil man Blair, the perpetrator of mass war crimes, namely against the Iraqi people. His lying, deceitful actions killed hundreds and thousands of many innocent people, he divided a whole country setting one against the other, such that the killing continues today. All this for his outsized ego, his political legacy...I am so happy that his legacy will always be a British PM, a murderer with blood on his hands. He did not care about the UK benefitting from Iraqi oil, he cared about appeasing Bush and his sick neocons, knowing he would be rewarded in millions after his political career was on the downturn. The British will never know a more evil politician Ted Heath is an angel next to this rogue puppet, Middle East Envoy. All the more galling, BLiar, in his most recent citizens arrest used the old chestnut of trying to change the subject of Iraq and wanted to discuss Syria...yeah, like he cares about Syria - laughable. He is so deluded, does he really believe he is plausible, fool me once shame on you, etc, etc. Why would a sociopath like BLiar care about the deaths of Syrians and want to help them whilst eagerly committing atrocities agains the innocent Iraqi people! Please, everyone, we all must work towards getting him to the Hague for mass war crimes against hummanity. Guilty, Guilty, Guilty...until proven innocent!

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