“Dutiful” Activists Unconvinced by MOD “Charm offensive” on Drone Warfare

Members of the Waddington 6, who entered RAF Waddington earlier this year, in
protest at the piloting of British armed drones on British soil, reject the MODs
“Charm offensive” .   In their prepared statement they call on the MOD to offer “genuine transparency” not just “smoke and mirrors”.

In response to RAF Waddington’s Open Day for press, Susan Clarkson a member of the Waddington 6 and Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK, who has seen first-hand the
consequences of Drone attacks said today,

“’We met a young man, Raz Mohammed, who told us of a drone attack on his village which killed his brother in law and four friends.  He said, “a beautiful life was buried and the sound of crying and sorrow arose from peaceful homes” He told us that drones instil fear in the lives of ordinary Afghans and that people’s mental health is affected.”

Chris Cole from Drone Wars UK is a leading expert on drone warfare who has regularly
been called on to brief parliamentary committees. He writes,

“If the MoD want to ‘dispel the myths’ about the armed drones they need to be much more transparent about how these systems are being used on a day-to-day basis so we can begin to address the many legal and ethical questions raised by their use. Basic questions that need to be answered include how many people have been killed in British drone strikes?  Where are these strikes taking place? And how accurate are weapons launched from British drones?”

Revd Dr Keith Hebden, a parish priest in Nottinghamshire added, “This is a cynical
response to our genuine call for greater accountability from the military to the
public. We don’t want smoke and mirrors we want answers to important questions”.

The Waddington 6 were arrested inside the RAF base on 3rd June 2013 for entering the
site, planting a “Peace Garden” and searching for Squadron XIII who pilot the drones
from there. In a historic court case on 7th October Judge Stobbart found them
“Guilty” with “a very heavy heart” and called them “dutiful people with a legitimate
target”. Monthly vigils outside the base are planned for 2014 on 21st of every month
1-3pm.

Waddington 6 Statement

The MOD claims that UK operated armed drones are mainly used for surveillance.
However, Afghanis report civilian trauma at the constant droning sound and fear of
being bombed by drones. The MOD claim that RAF pilots of drones operate differently
to the American pilots; this seems unlikely and no evidence has been produced.

The MOD claims that drones saved lives. However, after two invasions of Iraq and a
drawn out and aimless occupation of Afghanistan the British people are no safer from
terror and other nations are terrorised in our name.

The MOD have never criticised the US and the CIA or denounced their actions nor has
the UK government. They share an HQ at Northwood and the UK spy headquarters, GCHQ, share information with US government agencies, knowing that this may be used by US drone pilots. UK and US pilots have shared a drone-pilot hanger in Texas and the US and UK have regularly support one another’s campaigns. MOD claims of moral
superiority over the US ring hollow.

  • We call on the MOD to publicly promise never to use autonomous drones
  • We call on the MOD to publicly denounce signature strikes as war crimes
  • We call on the MOD to admit to its use of Armed Drones on civilian
    populations
  • We call on the MOD to make Drone strike intelligence available and
    accountable to parliament
  • We call on the MOD to denounce the use of Armed Drones as immoral and
    criminal and to cease operating them immediately
  • We call on David Cameron to end UK complicity with the 4 decades of war
    against the Afghani people

Opinion polls regularly show that the public in the UK and around the globe are
increasingly worried about armed drones and remote warfare.  A controlled, public
relation, charm offensive will not fool anyone and we again call on the MoD to be
more transparent about their use of armed drones.

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