London 25 January 2008
President Musharraf's limousine was forced to halt in Park Lane, London, tonight (25 January), when human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell ran in front of his car in protest at the Pakistan dictator's "suppression of democracy and human rights." The ambush happened outside the Hilton Hotel Park Lane, as the President's motorcade drew close to the hotel, where he was scheduled to speak.
“I stood inconspicuously at a bus stop reading a newspaper, waiting for Musharraf's motorcade to arrive,” recalled Mr Tatchell “When the police motorcycle escorts drew level, I ran out into Park Lane and straight in front of the President's car. It screeched to a halt.”
“I unfurled a placard protesting against Musharraf's massacre of civilians in occupied Baluchistan. The placard read: "Stop Pakistan Massacre of Baluch people.”
“Musharraf could clearly see the placard. He did not look pleased. His driver tried to back up and drive around me, but I ran in front of the limousine again, forcing it to halt once more. I could see Musharraf in the back seat shouting something at his driver. Perhaps he feared that I was an assassin or a suicide bomber.”
“The limo reversed again and tried to swerve past me. I blocked it for the third time. Musharraf and his colleagues looked very agitated.”
“Eventually, police motorcycle escorts ran over and dragged me away from the bonnet of Musharraf's vehicle. They pulled me across the road to the central reservation in Park Lane, where I was pinned against the railing.”
“Shortly afterwards, the police let me go and I joined the main anti-Musharraf demonstration outside the Hilton Hotel, organized by lawyers protesting against the arrest of fellow lawyers and supreme court judges in Pakistan.”
“Although my placard specifically condemned Musharraf's human rights abuses in Baluchistan, I support all the people of Pakistan who are struggling against dictatorship and for democracy. It is shameful that the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is entertaining Musharraf at Downing Street on Monday. He is siding with a dictator against the people of Pakistan.”
“Musharraf is guilty of crimes against humanity, including the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in Baluchistan, using weaponry supplied by Britain and the US. Pakistani human rights groups say his regime practices torture, detention with trial and extra-judicial killings.”
“Musharraf is a criminal and should be arrested by the UK authorities and put in trial in The Hague,” said Mr Tatchell.