More than 600,000 people have signed a petition calling for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to have his knighthood removed days after Queen Elizabeth awarded him with the title despite his infamous involvement in war crimes during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Blair, a former Labor leader who was in power from 1997 to 2007, was awarded with the title of Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter by the queen in her New Year’s Honors list. It is Britain’s highest honor and is awarded for outstanding public service and achievement.
Blair is one of three new appointments announced by the Buckingham Palace on Dec. 31. The royal appointment has regularly been bestowed upon past British prime ministers.
But the petition posted on the change.org website complains that Blair was the most controversial name in the queen’s list because his role in the Iraq war makes him “personally responsible” for many deaths and war crimes.
“He was personally responsible for causing the death of countless innocent, civilian lives and servicemen in various conflicts. For this alone he should be held accountable for war crimes,” it says.
It further stresses that Blair also “caused irreparable damage to both the constitution of the United Kingdom and to the very fabric of the nation’s society” while in office.
The poll’s creator, Angus Scott, said that Blair “is the least deserving person of any public honor, particularly anything awarded by the queen.”
The decision has been met with furious backlash, with anti-war campaigners branding it a “kick in the teeth” to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Britons widely believe that Blair should be imprisoned rather than crowned with knighthood for his well-established militaristic role in the course of the brutal war on Iraq that started in 2003.
One signatory wrote, “Tony Blair should be prosecuted not knighted. Someone like this being honored shows how corrupt & vile the system is.”
Blair has long faced criticism for sending troops into Afghanistan and Iraq, a decision which culminated in a devastating report by Sir John Chilcot in 2016 that found he overplayed evidence about the former Ba’athist regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
The report also found that Blair’s government had chosen to join the U.S.-led invasion before all peaceful options for supposed disarmament had been exhausted.
A total of 179 British soldiers and contractors died serving during the Iraq campaign, while a further 457 were killed during deployment to Afghanistan.
UK troops withdrew from Afghanistan after two decades of war in August last year. The Taliban were already in the process of retaking control of the violence-wracked Asian country. The developments also prompted the families of British soldiers to say they felt like their loved ones had laid down their lives for nothing.
Observers maintain that the petition is unlikely to result in Blair’s knighthood being rescinded. Appointments are for life unless a Knight or Lady Companion offends against certain “points of reproach.”(PressTV.ir)