Grief mixed with anger yesterday as protesters marked the death of Brian Haw, a campaigner who for a decade resisted police and politicians to maintain his peace camp on the doorstep of Britain’s Houses of Parliament.
Haw, 62, whose anti-war placards at Parliament Square have become a London landmark, died of lung cancer in his hospital bed in Germany. His family said on his website: “He left us in his sleep and in no pain, after a long, hard fight.”
In Westminster, Haw’s supporters rallied while expressing bitterness towards authorities. Relations remained strained in the often fraught tented community that grew up around a one-man mission.
Michael Culver, a prominent campaigner with Haw, acknowledged rivalries had troubled the camp. “Brian got bogged down in internal politics, which was a shame because his anger should have been directed at the politicians as they’re the real criminals.
“Brian said ‘I’m staying here forever’, but none of us could believe it would last that long, or what that lying psychopath [former Prime Minister Tony] Blair would lead us into. They must be clapping their hands and opening the champagne over there,” he said of MPs.
Though Haw’s campaign took on added significance with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he first took up residence in Parliament Square three months before 9/11 to call for the lifting of sanctions preventing delivery of medical supplies to Iraq.