The retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has refused to attend the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit in Johannesburg, this week – because he refuses to share a platform with former British prime minister Tony Blair on moral grounds.
Tutu has always believed that Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible.
The two were due to appear at the event, alongside chess grandmaster and Russian activist Garry Kasparov.
Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his campaigning against apartheid. Last year, David Hersch, vice-chairman of the SA Zionist Federation called Archbishop Tutu “an anti-Semite”. Because of Tutu’s call to stop the Cape Town Opera Company from performing in Israel in 2010, and for South African academic institutions to cut ties with those in Israel, as “only the most recent examples of Archbishop Tutu’s anti-Israel behaviour”.
On November 22, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal based in Malaysia indicted former US President George Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair for war crimes, in connection with the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.
Muslim political party Al Jama-ah has threatened to arrest Blair when he lands in the country, accusing him of will attempt “crimes against humanity”. The party is planning to hold a protest outside the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursda when Blair is due to speak.
Al Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks said: “The demonstration is being held to support a warrant of arrest to charge him for crimes against humanity relating to the invasion of Iraq which led to the killings of millions of Iraqis.
“It is hoped that one or more demonstrators will be able to make a citizen’s arrest on the day and put Tony Blair in jail and extradite him to the Hague for trial,” said Hendricks.
A UK-based website, ArrestBlair is offering financial rewards if anyone manages to make a citizen’s arrest.
In June 2011, former British prime minister Tony Blair’s ex-communications director, Alastair Campbell had claimed in his diaries published by British daily The Guardian – that multi-billionaire Israel-Firster Rupert Murdoch called Blair on March 11, 2003 – eight days before US invasion of Iraq – urging him not to do anything that could delay the start of the invasion (for Israel).