Bush in Belfast: join the protest

President George Bush will be honouring Belfast with a flying visit next month.
The BBC reports that "it is understood that Mr Bush wants to put his seal of approval on devolution."

No doubt the President would like to claim a bit of any credit going for peacebuilding in Northern Ireland. It's quite a popular political pastime in this, the tenth anniversary of the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement. Never mind the fact that 'the deal' here was done in the Clinton era, not Bush's. Let's face it, Bush doesn't have much of a name as a peacemaker anywhere in the world, so maybe he's grabbing what positives he can for his 'legacy'.

Five years ago, it was pretty stomach-churning for many people here when Tony Blair offered up Northern Ireland as a location for his and Bush's 'war summit' in the midst of the invasion of Iraq. While they plotted for war, they postured for peace.

I and other local Amnesty activists were among the thousands of peace and justice protestors kept at bay by a massive security presence when they gathered at Hillsborough Castle in April 2003.

Five years on, the world knows the truth (sort of) about Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and torture, if not about Fallujah, extraordinary rendition and 'black sites'.

It feels like there will be a global collective sigh of relief with the departure from office of this President next January. Already, his legacy is a more dangerous, less just world. Meanwhile, he's in charge of an administration which flouts international human rights and humanitarian law.

Some may paint Bush as a simpleton, a front man, a convenient fool. Who knows, maybe there is truth in all of this but, as President, he is also ultimately responsible for the US 'war on terror' policy. 

Whether he will ever be held liable in a court of law is moot. But when he comes to Belfast (probably June 16th but details are still sketchy), we should protest his visit. Amnesty International intend to do just that. If you would like to join us, please email us your contact details and we'll let you know our plans.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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