Blair sorry about Tutu's withdrawal

2012-08-28 19:58

Johannesburg - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed sorrow on Tuesday at Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's decision to withdraw from a conference they were both attending in Johannesburg.

"Obviously Tony Blair is sorry that the archbishop has decided to pull out now from an event that has been fixed for months and where he and the archbishop were never actually sharing a platform," his office said in a statement.

Tutu said on Tuesday it would be "inappropriate and untenable" for him to share a platform with Blair at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit, being held at the Sandton Convention Centre on Thursday.

This was related to Blair's decision to join the United States in its invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Halabja massacre

Blair's office referred to Halabja massacre, where "thousands of people" were killed by deceased Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's chemical weapons, and to the Iran-Iraq war, as reasons for his decision to join the invasion.

"As far as Iraq is concerned, they have always disagreed about removing Saddam by force. Such disagreement is part of a healthy democracy," it said.

"These decisions are never easy morally or politically."

Tutu's office said the summit had leadership as its theme, and this could not be separated from ideas of morality.

"The archbishop has spent considerable time over the past few days wrestling with his conscience and taking counsel from trusted advisers with respect to his attendance at the event," it said in a statement.

"Ultimately, the archbishop is of the view that Mr Blair's decision to support the United States' military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible."


Tutu regretted "inconveniencing and disappointing" the summit organisers.

Blair is one of the speakers at the event. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Russian chess grandmaster and political activist Garry Kasparov are also expected to speak.

Muslim political party Al Jama-ah said on Monday it planned to protest against Blair outside the convention centre.

"The demonstration is being held to support a warrant of arrest to charge him for crimes against humanity relating to the invasion of Iraq which led to the killings of millions of Iraqis," said Al Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks.

Hendricks said the City of Johannesburg was allowing the party to hold its demonstration.

"It is hoped that one or more demonstrators will be able to make a citizen's arrest on the day and put Tony Blair in jail and extradite him to The Hague for trial."

The website has offered monetary rewards to people who try to make a citizen's arrest of Blair for alleged crimes against humanity. Attempts to arrest him have been made in China, outside the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, at the European Parliament, and in Dublin, Ireland.

  • brendon.nel.7 - 2012-08-28 20:04

    Good on u tutu.

      steele.oyle - 2012-08-28 21:46

      Who is "we"?? Surely you mean you, because a vast majority here in the new SA support Tutu and his motives for distancing himself from this war monger.

      Desilusionada - 2012-08-28 22:13

      Voluble about something that happened years ago, but mum on Syria, North Korea, Belarus, Cuba, Mauritania, Congo, Rwanda, Chad, Sudan, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Zimbabwe? They are killing their own quicker in one year than during the GW2. Mr. Tutu the souls of the 30 road deaths and 50 murders per day here in South Africa are calling. You were quick to march for justice during apartheid, but you are retired now aren't you................ Except where Blair is concerned.

      yvonne.styger.3 - 2012-08-29 07:46

      I am not exactly a Blair fan, but if ever there was an opportunist, its Tutu

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-29 14:08

      @steele, who's this "vast majority"? The irony in your comment did make me laugh though.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-29 14:19

      Everyone has it wrong, this is God's fault, all of it. He created this mess, he should be the one to get arrested!!

      junebugg.kinte - 2012-08-29 14:31

      Why are they not arresting this monster who killed innocent people. this is a criminal

      morama.sebata - 2012-08-29 15:07

      Who the hell gave thumbs down.....ohhhhhk the denialists.

      tooka.loosh.5 - 2012-08-29 15:33

      @junebugg Yeah, you right - he definitely should be arrested. Maybe they should arrest Blair too.

      jaba.kov - 2012-08-30 07:57

      Tutu is a Muslim imam... not a true Christian.

  • okonkwo7 - 2012-08-28 20:06

    Am proud of you Bishop

      dee.980 - 2012-08-28 23:05

      I am too. SA grants this lying slimy warmongerer a visa but not Dalai Lama - who I wish could be brought in as the replacement speaker. After all, we could do with a great deal more moral regeneration in our country's leadership - and a great deal less from a morally corrupt, barefaced liar.

      yvonne.styger.3 - 2012-08-29 07:47

      Selective morality.

  • dawood.timol - 2012-08-28 20:19

    typical news24 reporting(part of the western biased and lying media)..Tutu and blair did not disagree on getting rid of Saddam Hussein, but Tutu diagreed on the false pretences that blair and his puppet master bush invaded Iraq on. Hence millions of innocent Iraqis lost their lives...All in the name of keeping the oil flowing,enriching themselves and big business...Unfortunately the world,especially the caucasian population are duped and spoonfed the propogandist rubbish...ignorant and gullible.

      tc.convulvulous - 2012-08-28 20:57

      Deadwood, you are an example of people who have no interest in truth and prefer to believe cliches and lies. Be careful, you betray your own stupidity!

      steele.oyle - 2012-08-28 21:49

      I have to agree with the Archbishop. The invasion of Iraq was based on a worthless lie, and convulvu actually believes there were WMD's.

      johandebeer - 2012-08-28 22:33

      Yup, that's it. Caucasions need oil. Non caucasians on the other hand apparently drive cars that run on salt water.

      leon.starker.1 - 2012-08-28 22:49

      "Millions" of Iraqis? Really? The latest count puts it at ca 118,000 people losing their lives between 2003 and 2010 as result of Iraq invasion. Am not hereby justifying the lies re WMD, but "millions"? And of these at least 12,284 were civilians killed by suicide bombers, and the majority of the rest of the deaths ascribed to sectarian Muslim on Muslim violence. For context: It is calculated that more than a million people lost their lives as a result of Saddam Hussein's reigh and that ca 200,000 people "disappeared" at the hands of his secret police. (If you don't like these numbers - google it).

      fred.warren.986 - 2012-08-28 22:56

      "millions of Iraqis killed"???? please enlighten us as to where you got this number from? Or is it just a hyperbole like when ANC commentators say millions of blacks were killed by Apartheid forces?

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-29 06:34

      To kill civililans you don't need to shoot them - you just destroy their infrastructurte. Remove electricity power stations, water treatment and sewage facilities - people can't get their food cooked - babies catch tummy bugs, and die from diarrhoea. Take out the bridges - old men who have heart attacks, die on the way to hospital. Don't let supplies in - people steal to survive, so they form gangs and attack shop owners.

      marco.bischoff.35 - 2012-08-29 11:13

      @ fidel, is that not what this ANC government is doing to its own people right now?? I think so!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-29 12:43

      That is neither here nor there. There are open threads about ANC service delivery shortcomings, and am sure your observation would be much more appreciated there. You are at liberty to quote me there!

  • dawood.timol - 2012-08-28 20:20

    HAIL the archbishop...morally a steadfast man.

  • nicholas.hall.31945 - 2012-08-28 20:28

    As much as I respect the Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's decision and appreciate he is far more experienced in these areas, I feel saddened by his withdrawal. His consistent message throughout the truth and reconciliation process and in his book “no future without forgiveness is one of forgiveness, reaching out and honest and open dialog. I struggle to reconcile his talk to date and this action. He has never backed off from speaking his mind before, why does he suddenly feel that he can’t say his piece in this meeting? A role model of his was known to go against the popular trend and engage “less savoury” members of society. The contribution that Tutu could have made to this meeting of great minds will be missed.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-29 07:04

      An intl rebuke by a Nobel Peace Laureate is more powerful than him having tried to engage blair in this meeting, where blair would have easily avoided the topic.

      tooka.loosh.5 - 2012-08-29 15:41

      He's afraid of Blair, Blair has by far and away, the vastly superior intellect

  • Dawn Campbell Gibson - 2012-08-28 20:35

    Good choice Tutu! He obviously can see the pending trouble. I would also rather stay away from the convention centre on Thursday.

  • jerry.medina.756 - 2012-08-28 20:38

    They should arrest him for Arms deal corruption as well. Big ups to the Arch

      Christopher - 2012-08-28 23:52

      arms dealings yes I agree along with Mbeki, Zuma & Shabier Shaik! Lock them all in the same hole!

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-28 20:50

    Well done Mr Tutu, this war criminal should never have been allowed to set foot in this country!

      fawzia.bayat - 2012-08-28 22:43


      fawzia.bayat - 2012-08-28 22:45

      Blair's despatch to the ICC @ THE HAGUE is long overdue . Ensure that he takes his buddy Bush

  • J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-08-28 20:51

    Tutu must have agonised over his decision, but I'm glad he made it. He is a man of peace. Every twenty years the US fiddles in some Asian country: Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria. The UK was not united in support over Iraq. The Liberal Democrats voted against Blair, so the Labour Party lost a slice of the immigrant vote to them in 2001 and in 2005. The Bishop assessed the man.

  • cliff.slabbert - 2012-08-28 21:04

    Welcome Tony!

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-28 21:21

      Blair is a cretin and deserves to be given no attention.

      steele.oyle - 2012-08-28 21:56

      Cliff, I assume you're going to visit your hero.

  • mpho.galane1 - 2012-08-28 21:13

    Thank you TuTu from withdrawing from the event, Blair n his co. keep killing ppl for their own selfishness.

  • will.cronje.7 - 2012-08-28 21:14

    So very very holy of Tutu to still be pissed about something that happend like 10 years ago.

      steele.oyle - 2012-08-28 21:57

      Tell that to the families of the victims who were killed based on a fabrication.

      fawzia.bayat - 2012-08-28 22:39

      if your family was exterminated 10 years ago or longer , you would do just what Tutu did ' if not worse,you would have went for the jugular.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-29 14:11

      No fawzia, we'll leave that to the Islamic fundamentalists.. After all they still killing millions of Iraqi's even today.

      lhenama - 2012-08-30 09:31

      @Will.cronje, yes he's holy indeed. Peoples lives were lost in that thing that happened 10 years ago, parents, children died on something that could've been resolved in other ways. so typical of you people to just adopt amnesia on anything that suites you when convenient for you.

  • imtiaz.osman.5 - 2012-08-28 21:24

    Guess who gave saddam chemical weapons to attack iran

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-29 14:12

      Blair? Really? ROTFLMAO... Ok.

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2012-08-28 21:47

    Tutu is a politician like all religious leaders. Makes you sick when they hide behind their religion.

      fawzia.bayat - 2012-08-28 22:41

      Please define your idea of the word "religion",not just semantically but your individual perception of the concept of religion?

      lhenama - 2012-08-30 09:38

      margaret thatcher's offspring - Tony Blair, Point Blank & QuickQuirky whatever u call yourself. If Blair, Bush want to be the God's of this earth and dictate how people should live we would still hv a long way to go .

  • punungwe - 2012-08-28 21:51

    Blair's office mentions Halabja. What about Fallujah?

      Christopher - 2012-08-28 23:53

      what about Zimbobwe?

  • helmut.smrz - 2012-08-28 21:51

    A sade old man

  • seath1 - 2012-08-28 21:59

    Well done Arch Tutu.... you made us proud

  • jimzimbo - 2012-08-28 22:07

    Disapointed in you Tutu....... not because of your decision but rather because of the timing of your decision. You have had prior notice of this event however you chose to decline on the eve of the event. Attention seeking, popularism and grandstanding at it's best, I really thought you were above that. You after all are no different than the rest.....

      fanie.gerber1972 - 2012-08-29 07:50

      Agreed - this is simply not good manners at the best, and as you have pointed out political grandstanding. I did know from observation he a massive attention seeking populist braggart, so I should not be dismayed that he did this.

  • zactrichardm - 2012-08-28 22:18

    Well done Arch!

  • Marc - 2012-08-28 22:22

    I am amazed by how many South Africans actually think that Tony Blair's (and George Bush's) actions in Iraq were morally ok. The Arch I believe is right in withdrawing from the conference over a million Iraqi's dead and no sign of things getting any better. In my estimation Blair is a weak minded individual that allowed the US into bulling him into committing his country into an illegal war.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-28 22:35

      It is mostly South African who think that the lives of ordinary Iraqis is worthless. South Africans who swallow every western propaganda BS about spreading freedom and democracy. South Africans who are western agents.

      fawzia.bayat - 2012-08-28 22:37

      Ditto Marc, could not agree more with you. All I am waiting for is retributive justice to be meted out to both Blair & Bush for the imagined ,fabricated WMD's.(none were or have been found to this day) But I will take a back seat & let the GWMD (GOD'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION) aka Natural disasters come into operation to effect justice.

      Christopher - 2012-08-28 23:57

      fidel.mgoqi rather western propaganda than anc propaganda ne whats the difference between the 2?

      pastorandrew.treadway - 2012-08-29 00:36

      What about the chemical weapons deployed by Saddam which killed at least a 100, 000 Iraqi's in the North and at least the same amount in the South? What about the barbaric torture at Abu Ghraib and the mass graves in that area? How about Saddam ordering half his cabinet to publicly execute the other half? No mention about the annexation of all Iraqi oil under Saddam and his proxies? No mention of the total destruction of the Iraqi marshlands? As for the 'new Iraq' no mention about the new democratic constitution and the splitting of oil profits to all Iraqi provinces? No mention of US rebuilding schools, hospitals and other vital infrastructure? No mention of the greatest supporters of the western intervention and greatest foe of Saddam: the Iraqi left, socialists, secularists and feminists? Illegal war? Saddam continued to violate international law, such as the non proliferation treaty, occupation of foreign territory and genocide, by which even South Africa is bound to intervene. By violating these laws Saddam gave up his sovereignty.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-29 06:47

      @SamSimson People who move the goalposts in order to try and win and argument are as inane as they are irritating. There are open threads for those topics, perhaps you should scuttle over there to air your opinions regarding the Taliban. Trying to make something fair or balanced by denying the crimes or by providing a counter point only serves to muddle the impact of the truth.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-29 07:09

      @Pastor Why don't you dispense with all arguments as to intl law and simply compare any country's action to those of Iraq, then the s**t will always come out smelling like a rose. Your reasoning is how people talk themselves out of the obvious or how they can go on for years, decades in denial.

      riad.mahomed - 2012-08-29 11:59

      @Pastor: So based on all these crimes committed by Saddam, what was the reason for Bush & Blair to concoct a WMD plan to justify their reasoning to wage war in Iraq? Would love to hear your response.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-08-29 14:16

      Ok fidel, keep calm, you getting a little fundamental there..

  • johandebeer - 2012-08-28 22:28

    What about Zimbabwe, Tutu?

  • johandebeer - 2012-08-28 22:43

    Premature withdrawal, Tutu.

  • velvybokov - 2012-08-28 23:00

    I for one am very greatful that blair supported the invasion of Iraq. Considering that mr Saddam Insane launched hundreds of scuds against my brethren I consider a villian we are better without. Considering what he did to Kuwait and the thousands he tortured and murdered... I think the world is better off without him. The only fearful factor is how do we know that the next chappy won't be just as bad?

  • johandebeer - 2012-08-28 23:01

    What about Zimbabwe, Tutu?

  • punungwe - 2012-08-29 00:57

    Of course Tony conveniently forgets other mass killings like Fallujah which happened long after Saddam was deposed and other callous abuses of Iraqis such as at Abu Graib. He conveniently forgets to mention that his country and the USA largely supported Saddam in the killing of Iranians that he is now trying to use to claw moral high ground away from Tutu. Blair is so desperate to clutch at any moral straws he can grab that he mentions a massacre that happened in 1988 in relation to a war that was fought 15 years later in 2003. If the Iraq war had anything to do with Saddam's excesses such as the Halabja massacre, it would have been fought much closer to 1988, not 15 years later. Blair is trying to sell a propaganda fib over the issue. The bottom line is by 2003 Saddam was safely contained, and the war then was not necessary. Which is why Blair and his friends had to tell lies.

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-08-29 08:13

      Safely contained to continue his torture of a nation , conatined by who ? For how long and we must trust him that he has changed while he thumbs his nose at the world. Add to that the very real likelyhood of it following Somalia into a failed state while Saddams sons battle for power .That is truely a morally repugnent position , push it under the carpet and forget about the atrocities commited everyday.

  • watsongeorgejan - 2012-08-29 01:03

    For those of you who still believe in the legitimacy of the US/UK invasion of Iraq, I'd like to suggest some piece of reading. a well written book by Adam Robinson entitled Bin Laden: Behind the mask of a terrorist. Maybe you'll comprehend the lies the world was fed to satisfy other people's greed.

  • punungwe - 2012-08-29 01:07

    In 2003 Tony Blair took part in lying the the Iraq war was about WMD. Today he is lying that the Iraq war was about Halabja. The British and their close ally the USA, actually tried to defend Saddam and blame Iran over that attack. "Saddam Hussein's government officially blamed Iran for the attack. The international response at the time was muted and the United States even suggested Iran was responsible.[13] The United States government, which at the time was allied with Iraq in its war with Iran, said the images could not be verified to be the responsibility of Iraq."

  • zaks2217 - 2012-08-29 06:28

    I am so proud to be south african right now! Well done arch!

  • maureen.churchill.9 - 2012-08-29 07:21

    Why did you wait this long before pulling out, firstly it is bad manners and secondly you waited because you want it to make a huge impact to the rest of the world. Say what you will but sorry double standards to me.

  • kevin.duraan - 2012-08-29 07:23

    You're a fool Desmond Tutu. You sure getting old. Have you forgotten what Saddam Hussein's regime did to thousands if not millions of innocent civilians?

  • maureen.churchill.9 - 2012-08-29 07:27

    Hussein obliterated millions of his own people, they suffered terribly, you saw the torture chambers, the chopping blocks, sorry Mr Tutu you have forgotten that evil man's reign of terror. The soccer players if they lost their match were tortured. People were taken in the night never to be seen again.

  • sisie.indola - 2012-08-29 07:42

    Tutu is such a hypocrite. What about what is happening on our own doorstep and next door. Nice to know you are still "retired" please stay that way.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-29 08:20

      Has Mr Tutu not made pronunciations regarding Zimbabwe and the state of affairs in this country, or you just have some sort of disorder that causes your memory to reset every night.

  • jeanne.stemmet - 2012-08-29 07:51

    Wow, now there's the pot calling the kettle a warmonger. You don't need an army at your back to stir up a crazy war - just some cleverly played appearance decisions and seamingly pios words will do the trick too.

  • tandi.freeman - 2012-08-29 09:06

    Tutu is a great man and leader.South Africa would be a much better place if there were many more Tutus and Madibas to lead the way and set an example.Too many leaders are morally corrupt.It's sad and a great pity.

  • KavishVather - 2012-08-29 10:46

    The Leadership Summit is exactly that. A summit to showcase different forms of leadership. Being primitive outside Sandton Convention Centre isn't going to help your cause.

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-08-29 14:09

    Um, "millions" of Iraqi's?? Really? I could have sworn more Iraqi's killed each other than the combined total from the war.. They just LOVE blowing each other up there.

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-08-29 14:20

    Arrest Tutu he is the agent and spokesperson of God, the one who created all this...

  • stompie.mcgwapspap - 2012-08-29 15:01

    Who Cares !! They both Idiots!

  • avril.powrie - 2012-08-29 17:19

    If emeritus bishop tutu condemns bashir assad of syria for massacring Syrian citizens, then maybe more of us will be willing to support him against tony blair .

  • bernard.ingram - 2012-08-29 18:13

    Tutu is a whusu.

  • peter.boettger - 2012-08-30 08:36

    I think that Tutu should worry about his own disfunctional Heads of State and stop looking to score points Take for example his own Goverment , Rolls him over

  • anthonie.vanbosch - 2012-08-30 11:59

    Only God is good and He wil judge us one day for our decisions, whether ommissons or commissions. Keep the faith!

  • ziggi.hugo - 2012-08-30 12:57

    Mr Tutu can decide to whithdraw for whatever his reason is. He will one day be judged for what he believed in. Practice what you preach and remember who you are. Condem who you want (Blair etc) and turn a blind eye what happens around you ( crime, rape, fraud etc )...

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