Brian Haw, the man who became the face of peace protests in Parliament Square in London after setting up a tent in June 2001 died this weekend of lung cancer.
The 62-year-old was being treated for his illness in Germany, according to a family statement.
“He left us in his sleep and in no pain, after a long, hard fight,” read the statement.
In 2007, Mr. Haw won Britain’s Channel 4 “Most Politically Inspiring Person of the Year” title, beating the then Prime Minister Tony Blair and opposition leader David Cameron.
In his acceptance speech he said:
“Stop committing this genocide, this slaughter of the nations, looting the nations, it’s about the oil folks, it’s about the arms industry. And do you know what? All those poor Arab kids, what did they do wrong? What about our soldiers? We care for those boys, bring them home right now.”
Brian Haw was clear in his opposition to the so-called ‘war on terror,’ saying it was “for the idiots.”
“You talk to anyone that’s been in a war and they’ll tell you war is terror, war is the greatest terror, war is terrorism,” he once said.
His tent, along with his supporters, became a centre of attention in the middle of the square, right across from the main entrance to the parliament. His many posters with slogans against aggression and condemning politicians were a double-edged knife for him.
The police removed him on many occasions and he had to go to court several times. But on the other hand, artist Mark Wallinger replicated the line of posters, for which he won the prestigious Turner Prize in 2007. The work was exhibited in Tate Britain. ‘State Britain’ was said to be “the most extraordinary work of art” shown in the gallery.
Wallinger’s installation was a recreation of a 40-metre display of posters, toys, paintings and banners around Haw’s peace camp, which was confiscated by the police in 2005 under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.
Haw, who quit his job as a carpenter for the sake of his activism, had a main slogan for his campaign: love, peace and justice for all.
Brian Haw, 7 January 1949 – 18 June 2011.
By Ali Sheikholeslami