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03/21/2013

'Mr Blair, this is a citizen's arrest'

RE3 Blair Debate
He can run but can he hide: Former British prime minister Tony Blair. (Rick Eglinton/Toronto Star)

Want to make some money and help the cause of international justice?  

Have a go at arresting Tony Blair for starting the Iraq war next time he appears in public. 

The Arrest Blair for Crimes Against Peace campaign is giving away cash to anyone who tries to make a citizen’s arrest against the former British prime minister whose life after office has been characterized by 1. lucrative speaking engagements 2. a position as Middle East peace envoy and 3. being described as a war criminal wherever he goes.

Founded by journalist George Monboit, the campaign has collected just over 7,000 pounds ($10,000) from the public and so far four people have each collected one quarter of the funds for their admittedly, failed attempts. 

Blair is accused of committing “crimes of aggression” and his critics want him hauled in front of the International Criminal Court in The Hague or a domestic court. Crimes of aggression has been recognized under international law since 1945 but not yet been adopted by the ICC, therefore it would be hard to prosecute Blair.  

 Here are tips the website gives for making an arrest:

“Your attempts to arrest Mr Blair will, at this stage, be largely symbolic, but they will have great political resonance.

It is essential that they are pursued peacefully and calmly, not least for your own safety: at no point should you create the impression that you mean to harm him, or you could be harmed yourself. The method we recommend is calmly to approach Mr Blair and in a gentle fashion to lay a hand on his shoulder or elbow, in such a way that he cannot have any cause to complain of being hurt or trapped by you, and announce loudly, “Mr Blair, this is a citizens’ arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge.”

If any police officers are accompanying Mr Blair, you should explain the charge to them, and encourage them to support you by arresting him.

You are advised not to put yourself at risk of charges of assault or false imprisonment. In other words, do not cling onto Blair or attempt to drag him anywhere.

You are unlikely to get much further than that. But as long as the attempt is picked up by the media, the point will have been made: he is a war criminal who can expect to be pursued for his crime wherever he goes.” 

The website notes that Blair is appearing at the 2013 World Leaders Forum at Judson University in Illinois, on April 12 and speaking on “faith, power and the post-modern world.” 

Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at The Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour

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