Diary of an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile

The reason why I have not been blogging for ages is simple:

I haven’t been around. Here are a few lines on the difficulties of being an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile:

Three months ago I left London for a research trip to Ukraine and that’s when things really started to get going:

Two days before my departure University College London, my university we had so desperately tried to persuade to ditch its shares in arms companies, quite unexpectedly announced that it wants to develop an ethical investment policy.

What an incredible campaigning victory!

No partying for me though – I have a plane to catch.

Even more exciting: On 25 July Gordon Brown announced that DESO (Defence Export Services Organisation) is to shut down. CAAT has been campaigning for the closure of DESO since 1974 (when CAAT started). How absolutely amazing ! The secret questions that haunted me at each SHUT DESO protest (“Is it all worth it ? Should I not be in the library studying instead?”) – answered with one triumphant: YES ! It was worth it ! Every bit of it!

No partying for me though – I’m in the archives studying

But – not to worry: I console myself with the fact that I care about the issue more than about the partying.

So just when I start to think that maybe things back in the UK are going just fine without me I stumble across Robbie’s account of the protest against the DSEI arms fair. He sounds disappointed that there were less people protesting than in the previous years. Was I missing? Would I have made a difference?

No DSEI protesting for me though – still stuck in the archives

And finally – to add insult to injury: The only place I can catch up on the news from CAAT is my local internet café in the small provincial town in Ukraine I live in. While I’m checking my e-mails I am surrounded by teenagers who swear at the top of their voices and… play war games on the computers.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Firstly I’ll be back in London in two weeks. Of course I’ll be arriving in time to just about miss the next meeting of the CAAT London group on 24 September at 6.30 pm :).

And secondly, in a country which is big on arms trading but has not a single organization or campaign to address this issue – I managed to come across Max.

Max is an Ukrainian activist who wants to start the anti-arms trade campaigning in his country. He seems very competent and to know what he’s doing so I ask him to let me know if I can be of any assistance. Max suggests I should move to the capital Kyiv and help him get campaigning against arms trade off the ground in Ukraine. I smile and gently decline his suggestion.

No anti-arms trade campaigning in Kyiv for me– I’ve got a plane to catch…and some partying to catch up with.

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