Despite failing to arrest Tony Blair for ‘crimes against peace’ last Friday, the London barman who attempted the citizen’s arrest has been rewarded with a quarter of the bounty for keeping the issue of double standards alive in the media.
This money should come in handy, now that Twiggy Garcia, the London DJ-turned-barman, has quit his job. As creator of the website Arrestblair.org, George Monbiot, sees it, Garcia rose to the challenge and deserves the money even for a failed attempt, for it serves to keep the issue of the former British PM’s alleged war crimes alive at a time when criminals from ‘weaker nations’ get prosecuted all the time for lesser crimes.
On Friday night, as the British PM dined with friends and family at a restaurant in East London, he was approached by the barman who had been inspired by the website and fantasized for years about arresting the former leader for unjustly invading Iraq in 2003.
Having laid a hand on Blair’s shoulder, Garcia proceeded to inform him that this was a citizen’s arrest, while the former PM reportedly attempted several times to change the subject to Syria –believing apparently that country’s problems now could have been avoided had the West invaded it. His views on the subject are no secret.
The standoff ended with Blair’s son going to get security, while Garcia demonstratively quit his job on the spot. As the incident was described later by the former leader’s spokesperson, “there is nothing to report here apart from the fact that Mr. Blair did offer to discuss the issue – that offer was declined and the individual walked off. Nothing else happened. Everyone is fine and they had a great time.”
But the creator of Arrestblair.org believes that something great happens every time an attempt is made, as it reminds people what the long-standing issues are with international double standards. Monbiot expanded on his views to the Guardian.
“Everywhere I went, I met people who were furious that Tony Blair should have got away with what, under international law, appears to be clearly defined as mass murder,” he said, remembering the wording of the Nuremberg Tribunal.
“While petty tyrants from weaker nations have been successfully prosecuted for horrific but lesser crimes, the unprovoked invasion of Iraq by Blair and George Bush and the mass killing that followed remains not only unpunished, but apparently richly rewarded.”
And therefore, the bounty for attempted citizen’s arrest – the fifth such attempt now – is deserved in Monbiot’s eyes “for keeping the issue – and the memories of those who have been killed – alive and sustaining the pressure to ensure that international law binds the powerful as well as the puny.”
The bounty system works in such a way that the website collects donations to put into the pot, and a quarter of that money is paid out when successful claims to attempts are made. Because each time a claim is made, Monbiot explains, the media gave the Iraq War the huge spotlight that it was missing after the initial hype had died down.