Pinter demands war crimes trial
by David Fickling
Guardian Unlimited (www.guardian.co.uk),
December 7, 2005
The Nobel prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter has called for
Tony Blair to be tried for war crimes, in his acceptance speech
to the Nobel committee.
The 5,000-word speech excoriates the US
government over Guantánamo Bay and its attempts to destabilise
Nicaragua in the 1980s.
But he saves his most savage comments
for the UK, described as "pathetic and supine" and a
"bleating little lamb" tagging along behind the US in
its support for the Iraq war.
"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit
act, an act of blatant state terrorism demonstrating absolute
contempt for the concept of international law," he said.
"The invasion was an arbitrary military
action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation
of the media and therefore of the public ... a formidable assertion
of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of
thousands and thousands of innocent people.
"We have brought torture, cluster
bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery,
degradation and death to the Iraqi people, and call it 'bringing
freedom and democracy to the Middle East'."
The 75-year-old will not be attending
Saturday's award ceremony at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm
because of poor health. He will be sending his publisher, Stephen
Page, in his place to receive the 10m kroner prize.
But the author of The Caretaker and The
Birthday Party has recorded a video of himself reading the speech,
looking frail in a wheelchair with a red blanket over his legs.
In recent years he has been treated for
cancer, and appeared with a bandaged head earlier this year when
it was announced that he had been awarded the prize.
One of the original "angry young
men" who revolutionised British theatre in the 1950s, he
has lost none of his fury in the speech.
"How many people do you have to kill
before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war
criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have
thought," he said.
"Therefore it is just that Bush and
Blair be arraigned before the international criminal court of
justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the international
criminal court of justice ...
"But Tony Blair has ratified the
court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the
court have his address if they're interested: it is Number 10,
Downing Street, London."
He also discusses his early plays, the
creative process, and the ambiguity of language.
Beginning with a 1958 quote in which he
claims that "a thing is not necessarily either true or false",
he says that sometimes a writer has to escape questions about
the uncertainty of truth and stand up for what they think is right.
"I believe that these assertions
still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality
"So as a writer I stand by them,
but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: what is true,
what is false?"
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