Tutu spurns Blair

Published : Oct 19, 2012 00:00 IST

Archbishop Desmond Tutu.-V. V. KRISHNAN

Archbishop Desmond Tutu.-V. V. KRISHNAN

ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu, the veteran anti-apartheid campaigner, declined to attend a recent global leadership summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, saying that he would not like to share platform with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Tutu, a Nobel Peace laureate, said that Blair along with U.S. President George W. Bush was a fit candidate to be tried by the International War Crimes Tribunal for their role in the invasion of Iraq. Tutu said that the Iraq war had destabilised and polarised the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history. He added that the two leaders behaved like playground bullies, causing immeasurable damage to humanity. They have driven us to the edge of the precipice where we now standwith the spectre of Syria and Iran before us, he said.

Tutu observed that more than 110,000 Iraqis had died in the conflict since 2003 while millions had been displaced. Last year, according to the Iraqi Body Count Project, an average of 6.5 people died every day in Iraq as a result of suicide attacks and vehicle bombs. On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go to the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the International Speakers Circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, and Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Bushs chief supporter Blair confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein? Tutu wrote after announcing his decision to snub Blair.

He blamed the military actions of the West for the rise of terrorism and religious fanaticism and the deepening divide between the Judeo-Christian and the Muslim worlds.

The Obama administration has closed the books on investigations relating to torture and abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody last year. The U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, had announced at the time that his office would investigate only two incidents in which CIA interrogations ended in deaths. In early September, the U.S. Attorney Generals Office announced that even this investigation was being closed as there was not enough admissible evidence that could sustain a conviction beyond a doubt.

Major General Anthony Taguba of the U.S. Army, who was in charge of investigations into the Abu Ghraib prison torture incidents in Iraq, has written that there is no longer any doubt as to whether the [Bush] administration has committed war crimes. The only question that needs to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

John Cherian
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