Say No to US Military Drone Tests in UK Skies!
This summer the US drone company General Atomics is bringing the latest version of its Predator drone – called ‘SkyGuardian’ – to undertake test flights over England and Scotland from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, and RAF Lossiemouth, north of Inverness. Civil society groups and journalists have documented hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians who have been killed in US drone strikes around the globe. However the drone wars continue to expand, and these flights are to demonstrate the new drone to European and other militaries as well as trialling new technology that will enable such drones to fly in civil airspace.
Further background: New details of US drone flights in UK this summer raise concerns over safety and corporate cronyism. Continue reading →
Campaigners return to RAF Waddington
Drone campaigners returned to RAF Waddington on January 5 for the first of several planned demonstrations throughout 2016
Petition: Stop British Drone Targeted Killings
The Drone Campaign Network is appalled by the British government using its armed drones to undertake the targeted killing of British citizen Reyaad Khan in Syria. Many legal scholars and international law experts are arguing that this targeted killing goes beyond what the US is doing in Pakistan and elsewhere and that the scant legal argument put forward so far by the UK government raises many questions. See some of the discussion here:
- The Legal Questions About the UK’s Drone Strike in Syria
- Tory MP casts doubt on justification for drone strikes on Britons in Syria
The Drone Campaign Network shall be working with other peace and human rights groups to challenge the use of drones in this way. We have launched a petition calling on the government to stop using drones to carry out targeted killings and to explain publicly what it sees is the legal basis for such killing.
You can sign the petition at Change.org here.
You can also download a hard copy to sign and get others to sign here.
Please do share the petition around your networks and on social media:
Early Day Motion 152: Drones and the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review
Early Day Motion (EDM) 152 calls on the government, as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, to investigate the ethical issues associated with the use of armed drones and specifically calls on the Government “to devise and disclose a distinct and overarching policy on the use of British military drones as part of British defence strategy.”
The government insists there is no difference between drones and other aircraft but multiple studies have raised significant ethical and legal questions and the APPG is arguing that these difference mean there needs to be a distinct policy on the use of armed drones.
Please ask your MP to sign it.
Multiple ‘Block the Factory’ protests against Elbit Systems (6th July)
On 6th July 2015, Israeli-owned Elbit drone factories were shut down by protesters in Shenstone and Tamworth in the West Midlands, in Broadstairs Kent and in Melbourne Australia.
At Shenstone there were 19 arrests and protesters were detained for 24 hours but, at the time of writing, the police have not decided on charges. A private security company tried to hand out an injunction, naming the 9 roof top protesters from a year earlier and any persons unknown who were within 250 metres of the factory. The police eventually pushed everyone half a mile down the road.
In Broadstairs and Tamworth, despite people on the roof, there were no arrests.
Watch a film about Broadstairs
Trial postponed for anti-drone campaigners
At the eleventh hour, the trial of the 4 protestors who broke into RAF Waddington in January was postponed to 19th and 20th October. Late afternoon on 26th May, just hours before the trial was due to start, the group were successful at their third attempt in moving the date.
Instead of half a day, the trial has now been given 2 days so that more time is available for expert witnesses.
Drone Against Drones street protest: multimedia available
June the 4th saw the second Drone Against Drones street protest in Hastings, aimed at highlighting the menace of unmanned aerial vehicles, which have been the cause of increasing numbers of civilian deaths in recent years. The 4th June protest featured local people marching from the Pier to the Old Town in Hastings while ‘droning’ on musical instruments. As the procession moved down George Street people filmed it on their phones and some even applauded!
Drone Against Drones is the idea of musician and campaigner Rob Hill, who commented ‘It was great to see more people at the second Drone Against Drones and now we’re looking forward to the National Drones Week of Action in October.’ The march ended at the Royal Standard pub with music and speeches. Local activist Maya Evans spoke, having just returned from Afghanistan. She described an incident in which, due to faulty intelligence, a group of civilians were hit in a drone strike launched thousands of miles away in the Nevada Desert.
UK-wide demonstration on Afghan New Year: Fly Kites Not Drones!
Strong winds blew kites high for the Fly Kites Not Drones Day of Action on 21st March. Across the UK in towns and cities, parks and fields, on beaches and outside military bases, concerned individuals flew kites and remembered the children for whom blue skies means better visibility and therefore the danger of drone attacks. As far as we know, there were activities in Argyle, Axbridge, Bournemouth, Brighton, Dunblane, Edinburgh, Findhorn, Hastings, London, Loughborough, Manchester, Sheffield, Southampton, Stockport and Waddington.
Read a brief write-up in the Morning Star
Flying kites is a universal, simple pleasure: the exact opposite of the high tech terrorism of drones. The Drone Campaign Network (DCN) wants the skies to be safe for children now, for the children of the future and for all of us.
View a selection of images and tweets
The DCN is working with several of its members – Quakers, Pax Christi, Voices for Creative Non Violence UK – to produce a Fly Kites Not Drones pack for schools. There will be a chance to see this at our summer conference on 11th July and it will go into schools in September 2015.
For more info on the Fly Kites Not Drones initiative, visit the Webpage, Facebook page or Twitter account.
Another Elbit roof-top protest. This time Broadstairs
On Tuesday 17th February the Elbit factory in Broadstairs, Kent was closed for the day when protestors climbed on the roof and ‘D’ locked themselves to the gate. They attracted great publicity locally and nationally.
Elbit workers were told to stay away from the factory and no-one was arrested, despite the obvious offence of aggravated trespass. Clearly Elbit do not want to have to defend their drone activity in court.
For a report including more photographs and a short film see here.
Military Drones Heard in West Midlands
On Tuesday 10th February there was a demonstration outside the Elbit factory in Shenstone. Professor John Hull describes what happened:-
The sound that frightens children in Gaza was heard this afternoon in Shenstone near Lichfield. More than 50 academics, clergy, members of religious orders, and people training for ordination in the Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham gathered for an act of public worship against the UAV Engine factory in Shenstone. This is a factory owned by an Israeli arms company making parts of engines for drones which are heard over the Gaza Strip. A recording of the sound of drones over Gaza was broadcast towards the factory.
The Revd Warren Bardsley said, ‘When you hear the continual buzzing of drones in the sky, you don’t know if they will attack you or just watch you. We in Britain are acting like terrorists while we believe we are defending ourselves against them!’
After readings from the Bible and the Qur’an the worshippers dedicated themselves to peace and shouted out ‘Stop the drones!’ and ‘Drones kill’. Most of the protestors were men and women training for ordained ministry in the Church of England and the Methodist Church. Bishop Edward Musonda from the Anglican Church in Zambia said, ‘It is a pleasure to take part in this act of Christian witness against this savage military weaponry.’