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!

Continue reading “Diary of an anti-arms trade campaigner in exile”

DESO down, DSEI to go

The Prime Minister’s statement of 25th July that the Defence Export Services Organisation, based in Bloomsbury, will be shut by the end of the year is a great success for the peace movement in general and Campaign Against Arms Trade in particular. CAAT’s Shut DESO campaign, which included encircling the building with a human chain in October 2006, culminated with the handing in of a petition calling for DESO’s closure with over 10,000 signatures to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury.

Ouside DESO

I had signed that petition and got involved with the Shut DESO campaign because it was so obvious how wrong it was to have 500 civil servants in the heart of the government working for the interests of the arms trade. Continue reading “DESO down, DSEI to go”

Stop the Arms Trade Week

The beginning of CAAT’s designated “Stop the Arms Trade Week”, 2nd June, coincided with activities organised under “The World Can’t Wait” banner and London CAAT produced a small leaflet to tie in issues of poverty, lack of development and the more than £1118 billion spent annually on arms, which puts into pathetic perspective the amounts the G8 promises and does not deliver to the world’s poorest countries.

A few of us headed down to Archbishop’s Park by Lambeth Palace and later to the banks of the Thames, to offer our support to the idea of “waking up the G8”. Dressed in white and packing alarm clocks, bells, horns and drums, the protesters were up for it. At 2:00, Westminster Bridge, Lambeth Bridge, the banks between them and even boats on the river resounded with unheeded wake-up calls.
Continue reading “Stop the Arms Trade Week”

Protest at BAE Systems AGM

Just came back from the CAAT protest at the BAE Systems AGM. It was a great success. Before the start of the AGM we gathered in front of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster.

Some protesters had prepared a stunt: One of us dressed up as a judge. Two others were dressed up as Tony Blair and as BAE Systems CEO Mike Turner. They grabbed the judge and gagged him.

Tony Blair and Mike Turner silence a judge

The stunt was very popular with the media. There were loads of photographers taking pictures. Our stunt was also really popular with the tourists on their way to Big Ben. Continue reading “Protest at BAE Systems AGM”

Blogging the experience of gentle protest

Apologies if this info comes a bit late but here it is anyway:

Richard Smith, chief executive of United Health Europe has blogged about his experience inside the Reed Elsevier AGM and about what he calls a “gentle mornings protesting”.
Read the blog entry here

For those who are new here: Reed Elsevier is a global publishing company, which runs arms fairs on the side. We protested outside their AGM two weeks ago.

Read more about the campaign

Reed Elsevier AGM protest

I am from Cornwall and doing two weeks work experience with CAAT as part of my degree course in journalism. Its only my second day at CAAT but so far its been very exciting being in London. Yesterday we held a protest outside the AGM meeting of Reed Elsevier who run arms fairs as a subsidiary business.

Protest at Reed Elsevier AGM with smiling policeman

Some of the CAAT team went into the meeting as shareholders and asked questions to the board asking them to justify their involvement with the arms trade, especially in the face of their links to healthcare and the loss of their rating as an ethical company to invest in. They also asked questions about the invitation to arms fairs given to human rights abusers and suspects of genocide.
Continue reading “Reed Elsevier AGM protest”

Stop the Death Trade in London

London CAAT met at 11am today to start our “Central London Arms Trade Crawl” outside BAE’s headquarters. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in this first leg we were emphasising the corrupt nature of the trade in death in our home city. The secluded Carlton Gardens, where the firm that the government won’t allow to be investigated for corruption shares a building with investment bankers, is a few hundred metres from Buckingham Palace. Crime evidently pays very well.

After forty minutes of chatting with and handing out leaflets to some of the people coming in and out of the building and those around it we began the short journey to the far busier Haymarket. At noon we were outside New Zealand House, which houses the offices of Land Rover Leyland International Holdings, the parent company of Ashok, which agreed to sell military trucks to Sudan despite the embargo there. The focus here was on the indiscriminate nature of the trade and the mention of Darfur was a definite catalyst for passers by to agree to sign our petition.
Continue reading “Stop the Death Trade in London”

Stop civil servants pushing arms!

Hi, it’s Anne here – a brand new CAAT volunteer. I was down at the Shut DESO demonstration yesterday. DESO (Defence Export Services Organisation) is a government agency which promotes the UK arms export business. It employs about 500 civil servants. About thirty people turned up which is great for a mid-morning, mid-week demo. DESO were holding their annual symposium at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre near Westminster Abbey, and we stood outside waving our banners and handing out leaflets to passers-by. Around 300 leaflets were handed out so lots of people will get the chance to learn about the influence of arms companies on government policies and CAATs campaign to Shut DESO.

CAAT supporters protesting at the DESO annual symposium

It was a lovely morning standing in the sunshine talking to other protesters. Some of whom had come from as far a field as Reading and Cambridge. At 1:00pm we made our way round the corner to the Treasury to hand in a petition calling for the closure of DESO. It had been signed by over 10,000 people including such prominent names as writer George Monbiot, comedian Mark Thomas and economist Samuel Brittan. CAAT staffer Anna Jones and Chris Cole from the Fellowship of Reconciliation handed in the petition at the front desk.

Rikki from Indymedia came down to bear witness. Look at the fantastic pictures he took!

Getting ready to SHUT DESO !

Hey,
I’m getting ready for the SHUT DESO protest next Wednesday.

DESO (Defence Export Services Organisation) is a government agency that identifies potential opportunities for arms sales, then works with the arms companies and other elements of government to push for deals.

I really don’t believe that UK tax payers money should be spent on paying around 500 civil servants to help arms companies sell their products. Surely arms companies are pretty capable of selling arms to countries with a dubious human rights record all by themselves. What the hell is the UK government doing helping them?

Read more on DESO.
Continue reading “Getting ready to SHUT DESO !”