Drone campaigners returned to RAF Waddington on January 5 for the first of several planned demonstrations throughout 2016
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 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 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’
The trial of the nine protesters who closed the Elbit factory in Shenstone last August has been dropped. The charges were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service just hours before a deadline expired to provide the defendants with details of arms export licenses granted to UEL to send its high-tech engines to Israel for use in the Hermes 450 – a drone widely deployed by the Israeli military.
The trial was due to take place 9 -13th February. Mike Schwarz, from Bindmans solicitors said “The information would have shed light on the links between UK arms companies and Israel’s assault on Gaza. With no court date, there’s no public scrutiny.”
The full report in today’s (31st Jan) Independent is here.