Socialist Worker

Brian Haw 1949-2011: peace activist and a thorn in the government’s side

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2257

Brian Haw  (Pic: Smallman )

Brian Haw (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Veteran peace activist Brian Haw, whose anti-war camp has been a fixture in Parliament Square for ten years, died last Sunday from lung cancer.

His protest began in June 2001, initially against sanctions on Iraq. The 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Afghanistan soon followed.

The protest continued as the “war on terror” expanded into Iraq and threatened other states.

He was a thorn in the side of the government, and resisted attempts to remove him. Brian and his supporters’ presence embarrassed those in power with the reality of what their slaughter meant for millions.

The Labour government passed legislation in 2005 restricting the right to protest in designated areas within a kilometre of parliament in an effort to remove him. But the High Court ruled that Brian’s protest was not covered by this as it began before the law came into effect.

The Court of Appeal later ruled that Brian had to get police permission to continue his camp. This was granted but Brian continued to face attempts to reduce and remove his protest.


Tory Westminster council is launching a court bid later this year to get the camp moved off the pavement.

Brian, a committed Christian, said that 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.”

Many people visited Brian’s camp to show their support, while protests outside parliament received a warm welcome from Brian and his supporters.

It inspired artist Mark Wallinger to recreate the entire protest as an exhibition titled State Britain. This won the 2007 Turner Art Prize.

Brian also won the Channel 4 News award for Most Inspiring Political Figure of the Year in 2007, beating Tony Blair. He also spoke many times at Stop the War Coalition events.

His determination and consistent fight against our rulers will be long remembered.

Article information

Tue 21 Jun 2011, 18:00 BST
Issue No. 2257
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