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A Stop the War Coalition protester, wearing a mask depicting former Prime Minister Tony Blair, shows bloodied hands near Parliament on January 29, 2015 in London.

A Stop the War Coalition protester, wearing a mask depicting former Prime Minister Tony Blair, shows bloodied hands near Parliament on January 29, 2015 in London. (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

Anti-War Voices Denounce Knighting of Ex-PM Tony Blair

Protest plans got underway as a petition calling for the former prime minister's new knighthood to be rescinded had gathered over 1 million signatures.

Andrea Germanos

Outrage continues to swell over the recent decision to give a knighthood to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was instrumental in the bloody U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, with anti-war campaigners in the U.K. gearing up for a protest later this year.

"We will protest at this grotesque award in the name of the Iraqis, the Afghans, the families who lost soldiers, the refugees, and victims of these and subsequent wars."

"Blair should be facing a war crimes trial but instead he will be joining the Queen at Windsor Castle on 13 June to receive a knighthood," Stop the War Coalition (StW) says in an event description for an upcoming protest at the so-called Garter Day procession.

The outrage follows Buckingham Palace's December 31 announcement that Blair, who was prime minister from 1997-2007, was given the title of Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. It's the most senior honor within the British chivalry system, with knights chosen by the queen to "honor those who have held public office, who have contributed in a particular way to national life, or who have served the Sovereign personally."

At the annual procession at Windsor Castle in June, members of the order, including the queen, "process in grand velvet robes, glistening insignia, and plumed hats," according to Buckingham Palace.

Blair's knighthood announcement drew sharp condemnation from StW convener Lindsey German, who, while calling the "honors system... in itself a symptom of the rottenness of British politics," criticized the former prime minister's "culpability in launching the illegal war in Iraq." She added:

He has never shown one iota of remorse for his actions, and for the lies told about "weapons of mass destruction." Instead, he has justified every war and military intervention since. He should be on trial at The Hague rather than parading the medieval trappings of wealth and power. [...]

The Stop the War Coalition was formed 20 years ago to oppose his policies—and we continue to do so. We will protest at this grotesque award in the name of the Iraqis, the Afghans, the families who lost soldiers, the refugees, and victims of these and subsequent wars. He has blood on his hands.

German is far from alone in her criticism.

A Change.org petition started last week that calls for Blair's knighthood to be rescinded has already gathered over 1 million signatures.

"Tony Blair caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation's society," the petition states. "He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicement [sic] in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes."

"Blair is the least deserving person of any public honor," the petition adds, "particularly anything awarded by Her Majesty the Queen."

Petition supporters include journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger, who framed it as a way to "stand in solidarity with the men, women, and children whose lives were lost or ruined in the criminal invasion of Iraq."

The honor also puts into stark relief the contrasting treatment between those who launched illegal invasions and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said Labour MP for Leeds Richard Burgon.

"It says a lot about what is wrong with our system when, after being one of the leading architects of the Iraq War, Tony Blair is honored with a knighthood while Julian Assange, who exposed war crimes in Iraq, faces extradition to the USA and a lifetime in prison," tweeted Burgon.


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