Hundreds of people protested outside the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war this morning as Tony Blair arrived to give evidence.
The demonstration brought together school students, trade unionists and activists in a show of anger against the war crimes Blair committed in Iraq. It began at 8am in central London.
Protesters carried a coffin, symbolising the deaths of the over a million Iraqis in the war. Others wore Blair masks and covered their hands in fake blood.
Police set up cordons to keep the demonstration away from the entrance of the Queen Elizabeth conference centre near the Houses of Parliament. This did not happen when any of the other witnesses came to give evidence.
Many protesters felt the inquiry the chance for a final reckoning with Blair and the lies that formed the basis for war.
Carys is an FE student from south London. She told Socialist Worker, “This war has ruined Iraq and ruined Britain. No one trusts anything politicians say now. Tony Blair has made a joke of democracy here.”
There were many young people on the protest, including pupils on the way to a local school, who came in their uniforms.
Mark is 15 and came with some of his classmates. “British soldiers have been in Iraq for nearly half my life. That’s pretty scary isn’t it? Think of the children born in Iraq since 2003 – that’s all they’ve known.”
Among the demonstrators were writer and academic Paul Gilroy, music producer Brian Eno and Iraqi academic Sami Ramadani.
Sami told Socialist Worker, “Throughout the inquiry what is becoming clear is the degree of deception that Blair, Gordon Brown, that snake Jack Straw and all the others have been up to.
“It is clear now, even for those reserving judgement, that this pattern of deception was consciously built.”
“There is an attempt to repress the memory of Iraq, but the ecological and human consequences will be felt for generations”, said Paul Gilroy.
Artists, activists and leaders of the anti-war movement read the names of British soldiers and some of the Iraqis known to have been killed in the war.
Blair is due to leave the protest at 4pm. People are encouraged to join the protest, which is running all day, to call Tony Blair to real account.
Protest Friday 29 January, Queen Elizabeth Conference centre, SW1P 3EE. Nearest tube Westminster.