200 protest Bush visit to Canada

2011-10-21 09:48

Surrey - Around 200 people on Thursday protested against former US president George W Bush's appearance at an economic forum in western Canada.

Bush came and went quietly in a motorcade at the rear of the Sheraton hotel in the city of Surrey, a suburb of Vancouver, as the demonstrators were held back by ranks of police officers.

"Torture criminals out of Canada" read one banner carried by a man in an orange prison jump suit similar to those worn by prisoners at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Other speakers at the one-day economic summit included former US president Bill Clinton and journalists from The Economist and The Wall Street Journal.

Around 500 people paying $590 a head attended the event, which was closed to the media.

'War criminal'

Protesters yelled "shame" at attendees as they arrived and left, but there were no outbursts of violence or arrests, police said.

"I find it atrocious that our mayor would bring a war criminal into our city," said student Karsten Cattrell, referring to Surrey mayor Dianne Watts who organised the conference.

Covered in fake blood, Cattrell carried a sign calling Bush a "war criminal" and said he skipped classes at university where he is studying to be a teacher.

Last week, Amnesty International urged Canadian authorities to arrest and prosecute Bush if he visited the country, saying the former US president authorised "torture" when he directed the US-led war on terror.

In a memorandum submitted in September to Canada's attorney general but only more recently released to the media, the London-based group charged Bush has legal responsibility for a series of human rights violations.

"Canada is required by its international obligations to arrest and prosecute former president Bush given his responsibility for crimes under international law including torture," Amnesty's Susan Lee said in a statement.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, however, slammed Amnesty for "cherry picking cases to publicise, based on ideology".

Surrey resident Mehdi Barradi said he and his family had joined the protest because he believes Bush is "responsible for so many deaths, he should be brought to justice".