~ from Norrköpping, Sweden by Annike Spalde

April 4, 2009

Ten years ago I was in jail in England, awaiting trial for an action within the Trident Ploughshares campaign. Now I’m on remand in Sweden, for a disarmament action against the fighter jet Gripen. It’s my first time locked up in Sweden. Compared with in England, one spends more time in the cell here. Normally 23 hours per day (and one hour outside for “exercise”). But sometimes you have the possibility of “samsittning”, which means sitting together, and luckily Pelle, Martin and I are allowed that. So in the afternoons we all sit in Martin’s cell – where the ventilation system isn’t quite so loud – for a couple of hours. That’s great.

Since September last year I’ve been working practically full time with our campaign against the Swedish weapons export. I’m proud of all that we have done in this time, and I feel it’s very meaningful work, but there are moments when I feel low and think “Will we be able to change anything?” It’s an issue that most people in Sweden know very little, or nothing, about – and sometimes you get the impression that they don’t want to know. It’s a trade we as a country profit from, and we don’t get to see any negative consequence. But other people suffer from them. Poor countries are tempted, by our companies and our government, to spend their precious resources on advanced military equipment. “We” contribute to the arms race between India and Pakistan. Grenade launchers, red dot sights and other weapons delivered from Swedish factories to the U.S. army, to be used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Gripen fighter will be sold to Thailand, in spite of the Swedish guidelines saying weapons shouldn’t be sold to countries with internal armed conflict. It might be sold to India, even though the planes – according to peace researchers – most likely would become a part of India’s nuclear weapons program. And our government just says “Great! We are so proud of our Swedish technology!”

April 6, 2009

Today Pelle and Martin were moved to another remand center, so I feel quite lonely right now. But our trial is in just eight days and we might be released then. Greetings to everyone out there working for a world without war or weapons! It’s so good to know that we are many, a diverse global community.

[Annike Spalde was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail on three charges related to disarmament actions at two Swedish arms factories.]