Brian Haw, the anti-war protester who came to symbolise resistance to the over-reaching authority of the British government, has died at the age of 62. He had been suffering from lung cancer.
On June 2nd 2001, Brian Haw set up a protest in Parliament Square, calling for an end to sanctions against Iraq. Over the following decade, his protest grew to embrace a range of issues, from the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, to the increasing authoritarianism of the government.
Despite numerous attempts to forcibly evict him from Parliament Square, Brian Haw remained in place. Criticised by some, he nevertheless became one of the faces of British anti-authoritarian and anti-war protest. For many, the maintenance of his right to protest was an important step in the battle to preserve basic rights in this country.
Brian Haw was born in London’s Woodford Green in 1949, and grew up there as well as in Barking and Kent. After a period as an apprentice to a boat-builder, Haw entered the Merchant Navy as a deckhand. A father of seven children, he was criticised by some for being unemployed and for devoting so much of his time to the protest.
Brian Haw was a life-long smoke and in 2010 he was diagnosed with lung cancer, just a few months after he had been arrested following the inauguration of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government. Haw left Britain in early 2011 for treatment, but his protest camp remained in place and was guarded by others. He planned to return, but sadly died before he got the chance.