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Of Afghanistan, Bethlehem and Essex

Yesterday I took part in day two of the five day Trail of Tears for Afghanistan walk organised by the wonderful Justice not Vengeance. The walk started at the Ministry of Defence in Central London to Colchester Garrison where soldier Joe Glenton is currently serving a nine-month sentence for refusing to return to Afghanistan. Yesterday we started at the Ilford army recruiting office and finished at the Brentwood Territorial Army Depot – a stretch of thirteen miles which is the longest I’ve walked for many, many years (and it was v. hot!)

Along the thirteen mile stage from Ilford to Brentwood via Romford, we had a lot more support than I really expected. Of course there was the occasion hurled bit of abuse, but it was far outweighed by the supportive comments and thumbs-up from many people we passed. The war in Afghanistan is deeply unpopular  with a large cross section of our society.
The walk was an opportunity to catch up with some old friends but also a chance to make new ones. At one point I fell into conversation with a young Scottish women who I discovered had just returned from doing an internship at Wi’am, the Palestinian Nonviolence Centrer, set-up by my old friend Zoughbi Zoughbi in Bethlehem.

In the evening I spoke about the growing use of armed drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan at a public meeting organised by the walk’s organisers, JNV and then drove back to Oxford along with Ann, the newly elected Chair of Pax Christi. What I call a good day!

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