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Campaign
Robot Warfare

Drones are another example of technology outpacing ethics, with devastating consequences.
By changing the nature of warfare it is becoming easier for aggressor states to go to war, with fewer political and human costs at home: drones have already become a weapon of choice for Obama, the CIA and NATO in undeclared wars and the so called ‘war on terror'; are liable to error and have caused many civilian deaths including those of children; dehumanise war because the perpetrator faces less directly the reality of killing; and are a potentially powerful means of domestic surveillance, threatening civil liberties.

Over the past few years we have witnessed the increasing use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, to undertake armed attacks around the globe. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia have all been subject to drone strikes by US or British drones while Palestinians are also subjected to strikes from Israeli drones.

Campaign Update
Winter 2017
After 10 Years, Time To Ground Britain’s Drones
October 2017 marks 10 years of British Reaper drone operations. Acquired on a temporary basis for ‘urgent operational capability’ the UK began operating armed drones in Afghanistan in October 2007. A decade later the Reaper has been in continuous use & is deemed ‘core capability’. Having tripled the number in use the Government is now in the process of increasing the fleet up to 26 with a new updated version of the Reaper – rebranded as the ‘ Protector’!!
Their use is surrounded in Government secrecy, which increases as with their growing use.But any discussion of their use cannot be dealt with in isolation from the US use. Over the past decade British drones have operated alongside US drones, & at times interchangeably. Last month documents released in the Snowdon cache revealed how a small base (RAF Digby) in Lincolnshire, a few miles from Waddington, is involved in acquiring intelligence from UK drones to share with US operations. There is widespread international concern at the US use of drones for targeted killing in Pakistan, Yemen & elsewhere & the Trump administration is now considering a change of policy which would increase these operations to include ‘low-level’ militants & passing authority for such strikes to lower down the command chain. The Pentagon is already lobbying the UK send its forces back into Afghanistan, but this dangerous & unlawful call to perpetual war must be resisted. Dropping bombs & firing missiles does not, & will not solve international security problems – indeed, it has the opposite effect. After 17 years of military intervention & bombing – in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya & Syria – unless we take a positive decision to take a different path, war will have become a normal and permanent state.
Contact us at dronecampaignnetwork@riseup.net
More information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk
Campaign Update
Autumn 2017

Opening Pandora’s Box
Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the UN to ban the development and use of killer robots.The UN recently to begin formal discussions on such weapons, which include drones, tanks and automated machine guns. A letter, published at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in August strongly stressed the need for urgent action. They call for ‘morally wrong’ lethal autonomous weapons systems to be added to the list of weapons banned under the UN’s convention on certain conventional weapons bought into force in 1983, which includes chemical and intentionally blinding laser weapons. the UK opposed such a ban on lethal autonomous weapons in 2015 stating ‘international humanitarian provides sufficient regulation’ and all weapons employed by UK armed forces would be ‘under human oversight and control’. Professor Toby Walsh, of University of South Wales, Sydney, said ,Nearly every technology can be used for good or bad: these weapons can be used to industrialise war – they can be weapons of terror, used by despots against innocent populations’  
Drone strikes in Iraq and Syria
There was a huge increase in the number of Reaper missions in Syria in the first half of 2017- 254 compared to 88 in the previous 6 months, however there were still more drone strikes in Iraq than in Syria. There is a huge amount of secrecy around the military use of drones with no parliamentary control and they are leading us into a state of perpetual war.
Significant issues’ facing MoD drone projects
Development of the new ‘Protector’ armed drone to replace the Royal Air Force’s current Reaper system and the Army’s ‘Watchkeeper’ surveillance drone are facing “significant issues” according to a newly published analysis of government major projects by a spending watchdog.

Saturday 7th October 1pm - 3pm at RAF Waddington
We are marking 10 years of the armed Reaper drone at a demonstration at RAF Waddington. We are saying that after 10 years of reaping, now is the time to sow the seeds of peace. It also starts the annual Drones Week of Action.
As you know the base is on the A607, 5 miles south of Lincoln and no.1 bus from Lincoln to Grantham stops at the base every 30 minutes..
Yorkshire drone tour throughout the Week of Action
Maya Evans will be touring Yorkshire giving talks about Afghanistan and about drones. Contact us if you would like to book her.

Drones Week of Action 7th - 14th October
It is that time of year again - and a great opportunity to campaign against armed drones in your local area. To help you campaign we are organising a range of new resources which will be available from our website from mid September including:-

  • a letter to MPs and a petition calling for an end to the secrecy which surrounds drones and proper parliamentary control.
  • a new A5 flyer outlining the main issues
  • new design tee shirts and badges - because the use of non military drones has increased so much we have redesigned our popular tee shirts and badges to clarify we mean armed drones
  • rebranding # with downloadable drone template, following MoD's plan to rename future Reapers the 'Protector'

Contact us at dronecampaignnetwork@riseup.net
More information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
Summer 2017

March 18th - 21st Fly Kites Not Drones
The Persian New Year, March 21st, has become established as an excellent time to remember the millions of young people for whom the threat of drone strikes means an end to the simple pleasure of kite flying; a time when we fly kites in solidarity with them.

This is the fourth year we have done this to coincide with the Persian New Year in solidarity with all those young people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen who live under the threat of drones and for whom a blue sky is no longer a good sky for flying kites because it also gives better vision for flying drones.

Groups were flying kites in Bournemouth, Bradford, Bristol, Edinburgh, Hastings, Kabul, Leicester, London and Waddington and probably many more we didn't hear about. The demonstration at RAF Waddington also formed the background to a short film made by War on Want

July 6th 10.30 - 15.00 demonstration at Elbit Systems, Shenstone near Lichfield
On the third anniversary of the Israeli assault on Gaza people will be coming from all over the UK to call for an end to the UK arming Israel and an end to the production of Israeli drone engines at Shenstone. More details including transport links contact us at dronecampaignnetwork@riseup.net
more information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
Autumn 2016

The deployment of the RAF’s Reaper drones in the US led actions in Syria risks involving us in allegations of fighting an illegal war in the Middle East.
The damaging admission this September that a British drone was involved in the ‘accidental killing’ of 62 Syrian soldiers in a US led operation reveals just how far we have been drawn into this bloody, unwinnable conflict. Earlier this year the Government confirmed that Reapers took part in operations to assassinate British Isis fighters in Syria who are said to pose a direct threat to the UK. Those deaths are now being investigated by a joint parliamentary committee on human rights which has already said the use of drones in ‘targeted killing’ programmes leaves British pilots and commanders open to murder charges. As increasing numbers of personnel and more hardware is committed to US-led military operations in the Middle East, the risk of being caught up in illegal acts will only increase.
There are now calls in the US to call for a new international control regime on armed drones. With the growing proliferation of armed drones this sounds like a good initiative, but it is hard to predict what will come of it after the Presidential elections in the autumn.
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Drones Week of Action 1st - 8th October

A demonstration at RAF Waddington near Lincoln started Drones Week of Action on October 1st. Members of EMCND joined others from Liverpool, Sheffield and Coventry and had large glasses, binoculars and telescopes to make the point that the actions of the armed Reaper drone are under surveillance. There were other demonstrations throughout the week, including one at RAF Croughton, which the U.S. is turning into one of its’ largest international intelligence hubs. This base supports many U.S. military sites in Europe and is involved in world-wide war operations. These include space communications, data links, military drone information, bomber guidance, missile defence, diplomatic communications and command and control war fighting functions.

Launch of new drones briefing on October 3rd
Written by Chris Cole and published by the Drone Campaign Network this 26 page new campaign briefing is called 'Drone Wars; Out of sight; Out of mind; Out of control'. It highlights some of the key issues surrounding the growing use of armed drones and makes a number of key recommendations to control their use. The launch is at Friends House bookshop opposite Euston station and everyone is welcome. After the launch the briefing will be available to download or as a hard copy from the Drone Campaign Network website.
For the week of action and beyond members of the Drone Campaign Network including Chris Cole and Maya Evans are offering a speaking tour. To book a speaker contact them atdronecampaignnetwork@riseup.net

 For more information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk
Campaign Update
July 2016

The secretive spread of the use of armed drones.
Whereas the Ministry of Defence are prepared to say exactly how many other RAF aircraft are operating in Syria and Iraq and where they are based it refuses to give the same information about its Reaper drones. It refuses Freedom of Information requests and it refuses MPs the right to discuss where Reapers are being used. With more and more countries getting armed drones this is a dangerous precedent. Iran is now using armed drones and the US has agreed to arm Italy's Reaper drones while Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria are using Chinese armed drones.

The number of air strikes carried out by the UK in Iraq and Syria during first three months of 2016 was 30% higher than the previous quarter rising from 161 to 207. However of those, the number of Reaper strikes as opposed to those from piloted planes has decreased as has the number of Reaper sorties. This fuels speculation that some of the Reapers may have been sent to Libya.

While the MoD continues to insist there is no evidence these strikes have killed any civilians, casualty reporting organisations such as Airwar report that more than 1,300 civilians have been killed in Coalition air strikes.

A Freedom of Information request by Drone Wars UK has revealed that only 5% of British Strikes in Syria & Iraq are pre-planned. According to the response from the MoD out of 414 UK air strikes in Iraq & Syria during 2015, 395 were launched under ‘dynamic targeting procedures’ – i.e.  when aircraft are in the air and ‘targets of opportunity’ are spotted or as support for troops on the ground during direct combat. As such a short time span is involved such strikes they are more likely to injure civilians than those which are pre-planned giving time to assess the danger to civilians on the ground.

Protest against drone warfare
Farnborough Air Show 11th -17th July

Drones will be among the hardware on display at what the Minister of State for Defence Procurement, Philip Dunne, describes as “an important event which supports UK defence industry seeking to trade internationally and offers valuable defence engagement opportunities with our allies and partners." There is a planning session in London on 10 July for a CAAT action on Monday 11 July.
The Big Ride 4th - 8th August
Organised bike rides from Sheffield, Bristol, London and Manchester will finish at UAV Engines, Shenstone on Monday 8th August.
Drones Week of Action 1st - 8th October

Beginning with a demonstration at RAF Waddington, near Lincoln on Saturday 1 October 1-3pm. The theme of the week is Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Control and there will be briefings available in September.

Parliamentary Human Rights Committee report into drones and targeted killing
In a report issued on 10th May the Joint Human Rights Committee urged the Government to clarify: the grounds on which it says that the Law of War applies to the use of lethal force outside an armed conflict; its understanding of ‘imminence’ in relation to the use of force under the right of self-defence; the legal basis on which the UK takes part in or contributes to the use of lethal force outside armed conflict by the US or any other country.
Chris Cole commented 'The Committee also makes important recommendations in terms of the need for proper independent accountability and oversight that must be put in place if these type of actions are to be contemplated, and that the UK must engage in international discussions to build consensus around the legal frameworks limiting such use.However it is extremely important that by addressing these issues we do not at the same time simply put into place policies and processes that normalise extra-judicial drone killing.'
New technologies
A new report from the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) has warned that the development of high-tech underwater drones and advances in sensor technology, which will make the oceans “effectively transparent”, could mean an end to the days when submarines can remain at sea undetected.
The report concludes that in future the oceans are likely to become increasingly crowded with networked drones acting as ‘a net of eyes and ears which no submarine can escape.’ If nuclear submarines become easily detectable they will lose all their advantages as strategic weapons platforms. Technology is developing fast with modular systems on cheap and expendable platforms. Both the US & Chinese navies are using the technology in anti-submarine warfare and the US Navy has been working on ‘underwater drone swarms’ operating in coordination without individual control.
And a reminder that they also crash
Drone Wars UK keeps a database of large military drone crashes. Since September 2015 there have been 21 such crashes and another 14 have come to light from 2014 and 2015 which had previously been hidden. As drones proliferate so will the crashes. The danger of 'domestic' drone crashes was recently in the news when a drone hit a BA passenger plane approaching Heathrow Airport.

 For more information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk
Campaign Update
March 2016

Now that armed drones have become the weapon of preference for all governments fighting undeclared foreign wars, we learn that 40 of the newer version of the Predator and Reaper drone are undergoing field tests in the US. These are the 'Protector' drones which David Cameron has said Britain will buy. Measuring 79 feet, the wing span is 13 feet longer than the Reaper and increases the flight time from 27 to 40 hours. They can also take off and land automatically.

March 4th marked day 500 of British Reapers deployed in Iraq (22nd Oct 2014) and then Syria to fight ISIS. During that time there have been 250 drone strikes in Iraq and 17 in Syria which is approximately a third of all British air strikes. The MoD maintains there have been no civilian casualties in those drone strikes or indeed any British air strikes whereas AirWars show there is fair evidence of between 918 and 1,278 civilian non-combatants killed in 144 separate incidents. British Reaper drones have been in constant use since October 2007 and with the proposed doubling of the fleet with the 'Protector' drone and purchase of the long endurance Zephyr drones perpetual war will continue.

Fly Kites Not Drones started in 2014 when an Afghan friend suggested we fly kites in solidarity with all those young people living in fear of drone attacks on March 21st which is Nao Roz, the Persian New Year. The idea really caught on and groups up and down the country flew kites as well as 75 of us at RAF Waddington.

Around the world people were flying kites over the weekend in solidarity with all those young people who live in fear of drone attacks in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Palestine. MayaEvans reports from Calais that refugees from Afghanistan often fly kites in the Jungle and the youth centre there were making and flying kites on the 21st March - the actual date of Nowroz, the Persian New Year.
On Saturday 19 March a group from East Midlands, Birmingham & Lincoln (including a 97 year old Quaker) were flying kites in a good, strong wind at the main gate of RAF Waddington near Lincoln.

The Drone Campaign Network have also developed a Fly Kites Not Drones education pack in partnership with others, including Quakers. It is free and available on line and has met with a great deal of praise from teachers. You can see it, and an excellent 2 minute video which is well worth watching at  www.flykitesnotdrones.org/resources/workshop3

Drones off our Doorstep: On Friday 8 April from 11am there will be a demonstration at Thales factory, Manor Royal Crawley, Sussex. The UK’s Watchkeeper drone has been developed under a £1 billion joint venture contract awarded by the Ministry of Defence to Thales UK and Israel’s Elbit Systems, allowing the UK military to benefit from technologies that have been ‘field tested’ on the Palestinians. The Crawley factory is one of Thales’s largest facilities in the UK. Bring banners and other displays for a lively visual impact at the factory’s surrounding fence!

 For more information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
November 2015

Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones, have become the preferred weapon of war for Western governments and David Cameron has progressively increased government expenditure on these weapons. But there are profound ethical and legal questions raised every time they are used, quite apart from the military and political impact they are having.

The killing of Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, on the streets of Raqqa raises important questions: was there an alternative?; what was the justification?; on what basis is it legal?; and where is the accountability? Many, including the families of his British victims, say it would have been better for him to be put on trial. International lawyers think the British government is disingenuous to claim justification by calling on article 51 of the UN charter legitimising self-defence in the event of an armed attack.

At the same time there were calls for the British intelligence agency, GCHQ, to reveal the extent of its involvement in the US targeted killing programme after details of a fatal drone strike in Yemen were revealed and growing disquiet that the use of drones increases terrorism, leading to the refugee crisis.

Four former US air force service members, with more than 20 years service operating military drones, have written an open letter to President Obama warning that targeted killings have become a significant recruiting tool for ISIS and other terrorist groups. They call for a rethink of a military tactic ‘which has fuelled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism, while serving as a fundamental tool for recruitment, similar to Guantanamo Bay’. They add that in particular the killing of innocent civilians ‘is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilisation around the world’ The four have spoken out, although they are well aware they could be facing prosecution.

Although drones are portrayed as ‘exceptionally precise’ the New America foundation says at least 342 civilians have been killed; the Bureau of Investigation puts it as more than 488. Well documented disasters, such as the bombing of a wedding convoy in Yemen in 2013, have been criticised by international lawyers and civil rights groups. Christof Heynes, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killing, said in 2012 that the practice would ‘weaken the rule of law’. Drone pilots have admitted that they often have little idea who was killed by their strikes. In Iraq and Syria the US fights almost exclusively from above; it has used drones and conventional aircraft to launch more than 8,000 airstrikes in the past year, and is increasing its drone fleet by 50% ‘to meet demand’. No wonder Europe is now facing a huge influx of refugees, fleeing the devastation of war!

The Right to Protest
Since 2009 anti-drone and Palestine solidarity campaigners have held vigils and protests outside RAF Waddington, from where UK drones are controlled, and the Israeli owned Elbit factory in Shenston, which makes the drones used in Gaza. In January four End Drone Wars protesters entered the base at Waddington to draw attention to the immorality and illegality of their use. They were charged with criminal damage, but at a 2 day hearing at Lincoln Magistrates Court were only given a 2 year Conditional Discharge with costs - the least penalty that could be imposed. And in October at Birmingham High court the Judge threw out the injunction, taken out in June,  against protests at the Elbit drone factory, upholding the protesters’ argument that it was a draconian order preventing their right to free speech and lawful protest against weapons used in human rights abuses.

The Drones Week of Action kicked off with a 'Scones not Drones' event at RAF Waddington, near Lincoln on 3 October with a picnic ( masses of scones!), flying ‘kites not drones’, skyping with campaigners in Afghanistan, and encircling the entrance with beautiful blue scarves which had been made in Afghanistan. For more information see: www.dronewars.net & www.dronewarcampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
August 2015

On 6 July, the first anniversary of the 2014 Israeli attacks on Gaza, a demonstration and blockade was staged at the Israeli owned Elbit drone factory at Shenstone, near Lichfield. 19 people were arrested, apparently for breaching an injunction taken out by UAV Engines Ltd on 30 June. On 22 July the High Court lifted the ban on protest taking place within a 250 metre ‘forbidden zone’ around the factory. Campaigners argued that the injunction was designed to prevent their right to free speech and protest at a factory manufacturing weapons used in human rights abuses abroad.

The first court hearing for the Elbit protest defendants and simultaneous vigil at the Elbit factory will be on Friday 28 August at Burton on Trent Magistrates court. There will be a solidarity protest outside the court from 9 a.m. The vigil held at Shenstone, defending our right to protest against the factory, has been arranged in collaboration with many different groups who have been involved in protests against the factory for some years, including faith groups, so is an important opportunity for the movement to develop and assert our commitment to ending the arms trade with Israel and ending drone warfare.

In July, a year after the UK doubled its drone fleet, David Cameron visited RAF Waddington, signalling a further commitment to, and spending on, drones. At the same time there were calls for the British intelligence agency, GCHQ, to reveal the extent of its involvement in the US targeted killing programme after details of a fatal drone strike in Yemen were revealed in a secret memo circulated to agency staff. Jemima Stratford QC published a legal opinion last year that UK intelligence support for lethal strikes outside traditional battlefields such as Iraq and Afghanistan was likely to be illegal.

At the Drones and Forever War conference in July, Chris Woods, author of ‘Sudden Justice – America’s Secret Drone Wars’, examined the increasing risks of the ‘military artificial intelligence arms race’. Remotely piloted drones play an increasingly important and controversial role in military operations – in Pakistan during 2014 the US made a total of 24 drone strikes, killing between 114 & 183 people according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. In those cases a human being chose the targets and pressed the trigger, but there is no reason why a computer-controlled drone cannot do the same thing without human intervention.

Leading academics, researchers and experts, including Prof. Stephen Hawking, are calling for a ban on developing AI to build autonomous killing machines. ‘Autonomous weapons have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms – in the hands of terrorists or dictators they are ideal for assassinations, subduing populations and killing a particular ethnic group. The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from happening’

The Drones Week of Action will take place from 3 - 10 October 2015 and organisations and groups around the country are planning events. The week begins with a 'Scones not Drones'  event at RAF Waddington on Saturday 3 October  from 12 – 3pm. There will be lots of activities including skyping with campaigners in Afghanistan, a picnic, flying ‘kites not drones’, and speeches.

 For more information see:
 www.dronewars.net & www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk
Campaign Update
June 2015

Armed drones are lowering the threshold for the use of lethal force and making it much easier for nations to go to war. Politicians can opt to engage in warfare overseas with little political risk at home because there are no ‘boots on the ground’. Drones are sanitising warfare and, far from being a last resort, are fast becoming just another option in the political toolbox. Some senior experts now argue that the increasing use of armed drones is increasing rather than reducing the risk of terrorism. But at a UN  conference in April this year the UK government opposed any international ban on the use of ‘killer robots’ (officially known as ‘Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems’ or Laws!)

On 11 May the Guardian reported that British aircraft and drones have attacked Islamic State targets in Iraq with more than 200 bombs and missiles in military operations that have been largely ignored, at a cost of £13m.The air strikes, which began in the autumn, have been undertaken by the RAF’s oldest bombers – Tornado GR4s and its newest weapon – the remotely piloted Reaper. The Reaper drones were first used by British forces in Afghanistan, controlled via satellite many thousands of miles away in RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. The trial of the Waddington Four protestors, due to be held in May has been postponed to October to allow them sufficient time to present a proper defence.

Drones and refugees: Frontex have been using drones to monitor refugees trying to escape from Africa to Europe for some time. Now Libya is concerned they may be used to attack people smugglers in Libya, without any co-operation with the Libyan government.
On Monday 6 July, the first anniversary of the 2014 Israeli attacks on Gaza, there will be a demonstration at the Israeli owned Elbit drone factory at Shenstone, near Lichfield.

Saturday 11 July: Conference on 'Drones and Forever War: sharing info, building the campaign' The conference will explore how drones are creating perpetual war. It will feature panel discussions and campaigning workshops. Sessions include discussions on continued drone use in Afghanistan, the future of British drone technology and European political responses to targeted killing. The new Fly Kites Not Drones education pack will also be launched and young people's participation is particularly welcome.
Keynote speaker: Chris Woods, author of 'Sudden Justice: America's Secret Drone Wars'. Chris is a freelance reporter who has been carefully monitoring the air war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Free entry and all welcome! Bring lunch. Please RSVP by emailing: penny.dcn@gmail.com

 Farnborough Air Show 2016 wants to showcase drones “It’s an ambition to have drones taking part in flying displays at the air show next year,” said Paul Everitt, chief executive of UK aerospace trade association ADS. “It would help people get comfortable with the idea of pilotless aircraft in the future, much as they are getting used to the concept of driverless cars.” (!)

Drones Week of Action will take place from 3 - 10 October 2015. Organisations and groups around the country are planning events, beginning with a national demonstration at RAF Waddington on Saturday 3 October. For more information see:
 www.dronewars.net & www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
March 2015

Drone Watch123 Throughout 2014 there were monthly demonstrations outside RAF
Waddington, near Lincoln, protesting about the armed Reaper drones which are controlled from the base. For most of the year they were deployed in Afghanistan but now they are being used in Iraq and Syria. To register our profound opposition to the escalating use of these weapons, therefore, on 5 January this year four protesters cut the fence and went into the base looking for the building housing the drone pilot station. They were arrested and charged with criminal damage and aggravated trespass and have been sent for trial on 27 May at Lincoln Magistrates Court.

It is only through this kind of non-violent action that with publicity we can raise public awareness. The trial of nine protesters who closed the Elbit factory in Shenstone for two days last August has been dropped. It was due to take place 9 -13 February but the case was 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. 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.” However actions continue with a vigil at the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone on 15 January and a public act of worship organised by The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education, Friends of Sabeel and Pax Christi on 10 February.

Fly Kites not Drones Following last year’s successful day of kite flying there will again be kite flying at RAF Waddington from 1 - 3pm on Saturday 21 March and we are also encouraging people to hold kite flying events and kite making workshops wherever they live. Fly Kites Not Drones started last year on 21 March in solidarity with young people in Afghanistan for their New Year when they traditionally fly kites in the clear blue skies – but now children who live under drones fear blue skies as that is when the drones are there. For more information about Fly Kites Not Drones see Fly Kites not Drones

Drones Week of Action will take place from 3 - 10 October 2015. For more information see:
www.dronewars.net & www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk

Airstrikes in Iraq: On Monday 12 January the UK Secretary of State for DefenceMichael Fallon told the House of Commons that there had been 99 UK airstrikes in Iraq since the beginning of airstrikes on 22 October. On Tuesday 13 January the MoD reported a further strike bringing the total to 100. Drone Wars UK recckoned that, using reports published by the MoD approximately one-third have been carried out by the UK’s armed Reaper drones. However it is thought that a high degree of under reporting is going on. As freelance journalist Chris Woods, who monitors the air war in Iraq and Syria, wrote recently: “the term ‘airstrike’ can be misleading as a single incident might involve the targeting of numerous locations. British and Australian statements describe a recent bombing raid on an alleged Islamic State bunker system near Kirkuk that involved 20 aircraft from seven countries and hit 44 targets.”

Unarmed Reaper drones used for crowd control in Italy
As their deployment to Afghanistan comes to an end, unarmed Italian Reaper UAVs are to be used to monitor soccer games and demonstrations in Italy’s cities, following a deal struck between the Italian Air Force and the country’s police forces. The agreement, which could see the General Atomics UAVs flying over the streets of Rome, Milan and Turin, is the first of its kind in Europe and is the fruit of drone-friendly laws passed in Italy. There are many in this country who would like to see a similar use of this technology by our police & Security Services.

Campaign Update
October 2014

Drone Watch123
Protests continue at the gates of RAF Waddington near Lincoln on the 21st of every month between 1 and 3pm because this is the control base for the British Reaper drone which is killing people in Afghanistan and will continue to the end of the year, the next one being on 21 October.

On 29 September we learned that the UK’s new Watchkeeper drone has finally been sent to Afghanistan. Well over three years late and just weeks before UK forces are due to be withdrawn, the MoD announced that Watchkeeper had become “fully operational.” However it is not clear what this means especially as all remaining UK troops in Afghanistan have been withdrawn to Camp Bastion and with the MoD announcing last month that all UK “offensive operations” have ceased. For more information about the year-long non-violent drone watch contact Penny Walker from the Drone Campaign Network on 07414465695; email pennywalker@riseup.net or go to www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk; www.vcnvuk.wordpress.com

Freedom of Information. In September Drone Wars UK was refused permission for a full hearing before the Upper Tribunal of their appeal to overturn the refusal of the MoD  to answer FoI requests on the use of armed drones in Afghanistan which has been requested since 2012. Chris Cole of Drone Wars UK said: "We are extremely disappointed with this decision. Even though the judge clearly recognised the importance of the issue and Parliament and the UN have been calling for greater transparency we are still simply being kept in the dark about the on-going day-to-day use of armed drones. The growing use of armed unmanned drones is a matter of serious public interest in the UK and right around the world. In order to answer the many legal and ethical questions raised by such systems, a proper understanding of how they are being used on a day-to-day basis is needed and it is right that the public have accessto such information."

However the MoD now faces a possible judicial review over its refusal to detail where UK drones will next be sent. The action is being brought by Reprieve on behalf of a Yemeni citizen. The defence minister said: "The UK intends to retain the Reaper capability primarilyfor its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities after combat operations in Afghanistan have ceased” and added there is no intention to seek parliamentary approval prior to each deployment or re-deployment. Reprieve's legal director, Kat Craig, said: "It is bad enough that the UK already supports the CIA's secret, illegal drone campaign but there is now a real risk that Britain will follow the US down the slippery slope to an endless, global war without limits and without accountability”.
In July a group of 9 protesters climbed onto the roof of the UAV Engines factory in Shenstone near Lichfield and closed the factory for two days. Israeli companies were the largest exporters of drones globally in 2013 and Israeli drone technology hasbeen sold to over 50 countries worldwide. The factory is a subsidiary of the huge Irsaeli arms company Elbit Systems and the group from London Palestine Action were protesting at the use of Israeli drones in Gaza andBritish complicity in the company and in the arms trade with Israel. A date for their trial has not yet been set. (see www.vcnvuk.wordpress.com ) Meanwhile there have been a number of actions round the country protesting about Barclays huge investment in Elbit Systems.

As part of the Drones week of Action from 4 – 11 October there will be a conference in London examining the impact of drones in Afghanistan and Gaza, and on Friday October 17 there will be a ‘Stop Arming Israel’ demonstration at the Elbit Systems factory at Shenstone.

Report by NATO on Drone Vulnerability
The NATO Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC) has published a study on the vulnerability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in the contested airspace of future operating theatres. It finds that although the use of UAVs “became critical in the global fight on terrorism”, current systems are not yet ready to survive in non-permissive or hostile air environments.

The 136-page report devotes just two pages to the legal and moral aspects of drone use and only then in the context as to whether adverse public perception might endanger deployment. It identifies three major concerns shaping public perception of drones: radicalization of the target population as a result of drone strikes; dissent about the legitimacy of certain types of drone operations; and concern about using private contractors for former military tasks within the remotely piloted system. On the radicalization issue, the study is non committal, citing evidence on both sides of the argument. The legitimacy question, however, is airily dismissed in three paragraphs as a "non-sequitur": drones are seen as just another delivery system.

Campaign Update
July 2014

Drone Watch123
Protests will continue at the gates of RAF Waddington near Lincoln on the 21st of every month between 1 and 3pm because this is the control base for the British Reaper drone which is killing people in Afghanistan. The next demonstration is on Monday 21 July with the theme, as we harvest crops in the UK, of 'the grim Reaper harvesting death in Afghanistan'. We shall be at the main gate on the A607 which is on the left before your reach the village of Waddington, coming from Bracebridge Heath. The number I bus to Grantham via Waddington leaves from near Lincoln train station at 12.35 and returns again at 14.58pm.

 On 14 June the Drone Network held an inspiring and energising conference – ‘Resisting the Drone Wars’. Information from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism about civilian deaths and from Reprieve about the legal issues was chilling and important. Reprieve’s focus is on the covert wars in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia.  In Pakistan there have been 385 confirmed strikes with between 2,306 and 3,735 killed and in the Yemen between 64 and 76 confirmed strikes and between 334 and 486 killed.  Drone strikes are ‘a death penalty without a trial’ and have become the preferred way to deal with militants rather than put them in Guantanamo.  Drones involved in surveillance and killing are not very different as the surveillance often ends in killing, and they are only used in new ungoverned spaces where they cannot be caught on radar and shot down. 60% of drone strikes target domestic dwellings. Women's deaths are very rarely recorded and, in the 'Naming the Dead 'project, of the 700 people they have been able to name so far, only 2 are women.  The US has not published any data of deaths in drone strikes in Pakistan. They actually state that all military age males are militants 'unless posthumously proved otherwise'.

Although Croughton is an RAF base it is actually staffed by US personnel. Reprieve has obtained details of a $23 million deal agreed last September between BT and the US government's Defense Information Systems Agency to connect the US drone base at Camp Lemonnier in African republic Djibouti by fibre-optic cable to RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire, which serves as a major US communications base. Lemonnier is the main centre for US drone operations outside Afghanistan. It sends Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles armed with Hellfire missiles on "targeted killing" missions against suspected terrorist cells in Yemen and Somalia. Reprieve have lodged a formal complaint with the UK Government against BT.

Israel's Drone Wars: the British connection.
 Two reports about Israel and drones by Drone Wars UK and War on Want detail the effects of drone strikes and living under drones on the Palestinians in Gaza.  Watchkeeper drones are made in the UK by Israel's Elbit Systems. During Drone Week of Action 4-11 October there will be a demonstration at the Elbit factory at Shenstone, just south of Lichfield, and it is suggested that anti-drone campaigning street stalls during the week of action should be outside branches of Barclays bank since Barclays invest heavily in Elbit.  An event is also planned at the Watchkeeper testing ground at Aberporth in Wales during the build up to the ‘No to NATO’ protests 29 August – 4 September.

Statewatch and Drone Wars UK’s recently published a report 'Back from the Battlefield' looking at domestic drones in the UK, now heavily promoted by the government.  EU funding is supporting Israeli Aerospace to set up UAV Net and money goes to British universities for research because this is seen as highly profitable for the private sector. But public sector use needs to be monitored as, while drones may seem the answer to some problems, there are serious issues around data protection, civil liberties and ethics which are not being addressed in the broader regulatory frameworks. So far there has only been limited and largely unsuccessful use by the police of drones.
For more information about the year-long non-violent drone watch contact Penny Walker from the Drone Campaign Network on 07414465695; email pennywalker@riseup.net or go to www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk; www.vcnvuk.wordpress.com

Campaign Update
April 2014

Fly Kites Not Drones
On 21 March, the Afghan New Year, there was kite flying all over the UK to express solidarity with young people in Afghanistan who love to fly kites but are frightened to play out or go to school because of the fear of drones. At RAF Waddington over 60 people came from the East Midlands, Norwich, Sheffield, Liverpool, Oxford, London and Hastings. We talked with some of those young people in Kabul through skype and linked with groups around the world. During that weekend over 30 groups across the country held 'Fly Kites Not Drones’ events.

Drone Watch123

Protests will continue at the gates of RAF Waddington near Lincoln on the 21st of every month between 1 and 3pm because this is the control base for the British Reaper drone which is killing people in Afghanistan. The next demonstration is on 21 April, which is Easter Bank Holiday Monday, so we are inviting people to come in Easter bonnets!
We shall be at the main gate on the A607 which is on the left before your reach the village of Waddington, coming from Bracebridge Heath. The number I bus to Grantham via Waddington leaves from near Lincoln train station at 12.35 and returns again at 14.58pm.

On Saturday 14 June the Drone Campaign Network are organising a conference at Friends House in London. With the withdrawal from Afghanistan and talk of drone deployment in Africa we are at a crossroads in drone warfare so this is a great opportunity to catch up with developments and plan action. Contact Penny for more information on 01163 199487 or 07414 465695

A recent report released by the Commons Defence Committee says Ministers should be more open about the use of drones because of public disquiet, but they ‘are here to stay’. Philip Hammond, defence secretary, admitted that the US and UK operated a ‘combined fleet’ of Reaper drones and the Committee commented that it was important to be clear that ‘UK aircraft have only been used in Afghanistan and in accordance with UK rules of engagement’ The UN has strongly condemned ‘targeted killings’ by unmanned aircraft. Chris Cole commented: ‘the Committee knows there is a serious and well-informed opposition to the growing use of armed drones for remote warfare’

For more information about the year-long non-violent drone watch contact Penny Walker from the Drone Campaign Network on 07414465695; email pennywalker@riseup.net or go to www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk  For more information about Global Days of Listening when Afgham Peace Volunteers skype around the world on the 21st of every month see http://globaldaysoflistening.org/

Campaign Update
February 2014

Drone Watch Waddington 123
Throughout 2014 a group of us will be at the gates of RAF Waddington near Lincoln on the 21st of every month from 1pm until 3pm. We will be there because it is the control base for the British Reaper drone which is killing people in Afghanistan. When we can we will skype with the young Afghan peace volunteers in Kabul.

We will be at the main gate on the A607 which is down a track off to the left before your reach the village of Waddington, coming from Bracebridge Heath. The no.I bus to Grantham via Waddington leaves from near Lincoln train station at 12.35 and returns again at 14.58
For more information about this year long non violent drone watch contact Penny Walker from the Drone Campaign Network on 07414465695; email pennywalker@riseup.net or go to www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk

The first Drone Watch Waddington of 2014 took place on the 21st January. 13 protestors stood in a biting wind with placards and banners and received lots of supportive honks from passing traffic.  Even more encouraging was the cheers from young people in Kabul as we skyped with the Afghan Peace Volunteers. They told us they are planning weekly vigils for peace in  Afghanistan , going to different parts of the city each week. How much easier it is for us to demonstrate outside the base where the armed Reaper drone is being controlled as it flies over Afghanistan dropping bombs and missiles on Afghan people! Raz Mohammad, whose brother-in-law and 4 friends were killed in a drone attack was one of those talking to us from Kabul. While the signals and satellites from the RAF base were sending messages of death we were talking love and friendship with the same place.

For more information about the Afghan Peace Volunteers see Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK
For a short film of Raz Mohammad click here
For more information about Global Days of Listening when Afgham Peace Volunteers skype around the world on the 21st of every month see  globaldaysoflistening.org

Campaign Update
November 2013

On 3 June three men and three women cut through the fence at RAF Waddington, near Lincoln, the air base where the UK military are remotely controlling the armed Reaper drones in Afghanistan. Their action symbolically penetrated the wall of secrecy which surrounds UK killer drones and was the first mass trespass at the base. Once inside they planted a peace garden and pasted up photos of people killed by drones in Afghanistan.

At their trial on the 7th October at Lincoln Magistrates Court they used in their defence the recently published opinion by Public Interest Lawyers on 'The Legality of the UK's Use of Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones).' They all pleaded not guilty on the grounds they were preventing greater crime in Afghanistan but, mindful that his decision could set precedent, District Judge Stobart said: "I find, and not without some hesitation, that the lack of proximity or relationship between the defendants and those in Afghanistan who may be either targeted or hit accidentally by these drones, is insufficient. I therefore, with a very heavy heart, find all the defendants guilty”; BUT he also said that the legal issues were of such importance that he would welcome an appeal.  

The trial fell in the annual 'Drones Week of Action' and supporters outside the court had with them the enormous Fellowship of Reconciliation quilt measuring 13 metres by 2 metres with panels made up of the names and ages of the people killed by drones in Pakistan.

In January of this year the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter Terrorism & Human Rights said the exponential rise in the use of drone technology represents a challenge to established International Law and that it is imperative  appropriate legal & operational structures are put in place to regulate its use.

Developments in satellite technologies and cyber warfare threaten internationally agreed demilitarisation of space; Mark Roberts, former MoD official in charge of Government Space Policy claims ‘Policy, Law and understanding of the threat to Space is lagging behind the reality of what is out there’.

For more details see  www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
September 2013

On 3 June three men and three women cut through the fence at RAF Waddington, near Lincoln, the air base where the UK military are remotely controlling the armed Reaper drones in Afghanistan. Their action symbolically penetrated the wall of secrecy which surrounds UK killer drones and was the first mass trespass at the base. Once inside they planted a peace garden and pasted up photos of people killed by drones in Afghanistan.

The trial of the ‘Waddington Six’ is on Monday 7 October at Lincoln Magistrates Court. The peace activists will be using in their defence the recently published opinion by Public Interest Lawyers on 'The Legality of the UK's Use of Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones).'
October 7th is also the 12th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan so a very appropriate date. Penny Walker, Leicester CND member and one of the six, said: "We are looking forward to putting Drones on Trial at Lincoln Magistrates court on October 7th. When we got into RAF Waddington we planted a peace garden and put up pictures of men, women and children killed by drones in Afghanistan. There is so much secrecy about UK armed drone activity; it is good to give it some exposure. Supporters will be welcome at the court!"

The trial falls in the annual 'Drones Week of Action' and the group will follow the trial with a speaking tour. Joining them will be Brian Terrell, a US peace activist recently released from a 6 month prison sentence for drone action, and members of Voices for Creative Non Violence UK who have seen the effects of drones in Afghanistan. They will have with them the enormous Fellowship of Reconciliation quilt measuring 13 metres by 2 metres with panels made up of the names of the people killed by drones in Pakistan.

They will be in Leicester on Tuesday 8th at 7.30pm at the MKA Centre, Connaught Street.

Campaign Update
June 2013

On 27 April hundreds marched to RAF Waddington against the UK government's use of Drones in Afghanistan, now controlled from the military airbase near Lincoln.

The largest demonstration against drones to date brought together Stop the War, War on Want, the Drone Campaign Network and CND and more than 600 members of the public to launch a national campaign against drones. The pressure of the campaign had already been felt after the MoD was forced to admit just two days before the protest that the Waddington control centre is now in operation. The widespread media coverage on drones that Saturday's demonstration has provoked has started an important debate about their use and showed just how important a strong anti-drones campaign will be in the coming months. Read the report from Common Dreams on the Ground the Drones demo, including TV reports from Sky and the BBC

But much of the secrecy about how British drones are being used, and the threat of new interventions, remains. It has, however, been revealed that a further 500 Hellfire missiles are to be acquired from the US and that trials are to begin to test a British missile - the Brimstone - on Reaper drones.

Drone Wars UK has made a submission to the Defence Select Committee calling for greater transparency and articulating the legal and ethical concerns about the growing use of armed drones. It is hoped that the committee will now hold a specific hearing on this issue.
In a surprising announcement, a UK defence minister had to apologise to the House of Commons for giving misleading information about British pilots flying US drones. On April 24th, Andrew Robathan corrected a written answer that he had given to a Conservative MP last year when he stated that British RAF pilots had only operated US drones in Afghanistan and Libya.The House of Commons was told that altogether UK pilots have flown around 2,150 missions using US drones. The problem with embedding British pilots with the Americans is that it becomes impossible determine responsibility.
The third week of action on drones will take place from 5th - 12th October and will feature, protests, speaking events,street stall and cultural events. Please put these dates in your diary now so that you can be a part of this important campaign,
More information at www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk

Just a week after President Barack Obama proposed new guidelines for tighter scrutiny of the US drone programme and stricter targeting rules, one of the CIA's unmanned aircraft killed 4, including the deputy leader of the Pakistani Taliban. It was the first drone strike since Pakistanis voted overwhelmingly on 11 May for political parties strongly opposed to the US use of drones and will complicate the first days in office of Nawaz Sharif. The incoming prime minister who has vowed to open peace talks with insurgents and is due to assume office on 5 June.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said: "The government of Pakistan has consistently maintained that the drone strikes are counterproductive, entail loss of innocent civilian lives, have human rights and humanitarian implications and violate the principles of national sovereignty, territorial integrity and international law."

The implication of the strike is that Washington will continue to target Pakistan's tribal regions with drones unless Pakistanis themselves are able to dismantle militant sanctuaries in them. The previous Friday President Obama had defended the use of drones as a "just war" of self-defence against militants and a campaign that makes America safer. But he also promised there must be "near certainty" that no civilians would die in such strikes. Drone attacks should only be used amid a "continuing, imminent threat" to the US where no other options are available, the guidelines will say.

 

Campaign Update
April 2013

US politicians, journalists and campaigners have rightly criticised the secrecy that surrounds the US use of drones and called for greater openness from the Obama administration and more engagement with the public on the issue.

But the UK’s use of armed drones is swathed in secrecy too and there is much that we are not allowed to know. What we do know is that the UK launched 120 drone strikes in Afghanistan in 2012, bringing the total number of UK drone strikes to 363 since British forces began launching weapons from its Reaper drones in May 2008. The Drone Campaign Network have launched an appeal to the Information Tribunal challenging the refusal of the Information Commissioner to overturn the MoD’s refusal to provide details of the date and province within Afghanistan of each UK drone strikes, as well as their refusal to tell us the number of weapons released from drones under daily tasking orders (i.e. pre-planned) and those released under dynamic targeting procedures (i.e. on the go). The information is extremely important. We know that drones operate in a different way from how manned aircraft traditionally operate, loitering for example over towns, villages and compounds looking for ‘targets of opportunity’. Information about where and how weapons are being released by UK drones would be able to greatly inform the debate about whether drones are lowering the threshold when it comes to using lethal force. Another key issue is accuracy – the military repeatedly describe drone strikes as being ‘pin-point’, or ‘precise’ but questions about the whether such systems are really so accurate are also being refused.

And the devastating effects of drones in Pakistan were illustrated this month by an infrographic produced by Pitch Interactive:
of the estimated 3,100 people killed in those strikes it shows, only 1.5% were identified by US officials as "high-profile" targets, or suspected legitimate bad guys - that, despite the vaunted talk by the US of "precision strikes." The rest were children, civilians, and "other" - those identified by the Obama administration as alleged combatants simply because they are adult males,
regardless of what they may or may not have done.

Support is growing for the anti-drones campaign: join more than 2250 people who have signed the petition already, including Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Denis Halliday, former UN Assistant Secretary General: www.stopwar.org.uk/drones

And join the demonstration at RAF Waddington near Lincoln, organised by STWC, CND, War on Want and the Drones Campaign Network  on Saturday 27 April 27 calling on the government to abandon the use of drones as weapons of war. RAF Waddington is the new control base for the armed Reaper drone operating in Afghanistan. March from Lincoln to a rally outside the base at 2pm. The route is to be finalised, so for up to date information check  www.cnduk.org or www.dronecampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
February 2013

The extraordinary speed of technological developments in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is raising concerns on many fronts. Defence firms, police forces and fire services are among more than 130 organisations that have permission to fly small drones in UK airspace. But Eric King, head of research at the campaign group Privacy International, says: ‘The increasing use of drones by private companies and government bodies poses a unique set of problems.....we need new regulation to ensure privacy and other civil liberties are taken into account’.

And there is a growing international demand to lift the secrecy around the use of military drones by America and the UK and the proliferation of drone capability in areas of international tension adds to questions about the legal and moral status of the use of these weapons. Britain has just dispatched a Sentinel spy done from RAF Waddington to a US airbase in Senegal to assist the French action in Mali. The US is planning a new base for surveillance drones in Niger. And in the US, Barack Obama’s nominee for CIA director, John Brennan, faces hostile questioning from senators amid revelations of a secret CIA drone base in Saudi Arabia, and anger in Congress at the refusal of the administration to reveal the legal basis for killing US citizens after it became known that US born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a drone attack. The US Council on Foreign Relations recently recommended that the US president should provide information on what procedures exist to prevent harm to civilians

Last October it was revealed that the UK was doubling its drone deployment in Afghanistan. There has been no public debate or consultation about their use, the rules of engagement or the accountability for civilian casualties, let alone consideration of the consequent hostility among the peoples who live in the areas where they are being used. An All Party Parliamentary Committee has now been set up to look at drones amid the growing concern. There is a petition about this at http:/tinyurl.com/ct8767

The United Nations has also set up an inquiry into targeted killings which will examine drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia and will report to the UN General Assembly in New York in the autumn. It will also take evidence on Israeli drone attacks in Palestinian territories. About 20 or 30 strikes will be studied to assess the extent of any civilian casualties, the identity of militants targeted and the legality of strikes in countries where the UN has not formally recognised there is a conflict.

Ben Emmerson, a UN special rapporteur, has suggested some drone attacks (particularly those known as "double tap" strikes where rescuers going to the aid of a first blast have become victims of a follow-up strike) could possibly constitute a "war crime". He raises the question of whether aerial targeting using drones is an appropriate method of conflict where individuals are embedded in the community
Between June 2004 and September 2012, according to research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom  between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children.
There is more information at: www.dronewars.net

Campaign Update
November 2012

As part of KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE WEEK from October 8 – 14 a small group of determined campaigners against ‘drone warfare’ walked from the Elbit factory in Shenstone (where the engine for  the Watchkeeper drone is made) to RAF Waddington near Lincoln from where the Reaper drone will be deployed.

This is their account:

‘Our 3 aims for the 90 mile, 5 county peace walk, were to walk in solidarity with those killed or harmed by drones, to protest at 3 drone sites, and to talk to lots of people in the towns and villages along the way. We did all that!

Our tiredness towards the end was dispelled by the media interest as we walked into Lincoln on Friday from BBC Look North television and local BBC and commercial radio. Look North also filmed us on Saturday at RAF Waddington. We had hoped for more media coverage along the way but it was only around the drone sites that we got it. At the start of the walk at Shenstone where the Elbit factory make drone engines this was boosted by a press release from the Bishop of Wolverhampton's office explaining why he was joining the protest, and at Leicester we have established media support because of regular demonstrations at the Thales Watchkeeper
factory.

Equally important were the conversations we had with people along the way whether in the street, at evening meetings, or with our hosts overnight and at the lunch and coffee stops be they Quaker's, Methodist's or the W.I. At lunch stops we were greeted politely with delicious food and copious cake but they were clearly not sure what to expect. By the time we left their enthusiasm was really uplifting and carried us on to the next stage. They clearly were going to tell other people about their experience and about the issue and put it in their magazines. At Birstall coffee stop we were sung to as we entered the hall - it was beautiful.

A core group of 4 of us pledged to walk the whole way but sadly Bill, chair of Birmingham Methodist Circuit, and known to nearly every Methodist we met, had to give up on Wednesday when the doctor looked at his very poorly feet and told him to go home immediately. We were joined by others for a few days or a day or a couple of hours. Leaving Shenstone there were 14 of us, leaving Leicester 16 and leaving Lincoln 11, all in hi-vis vests printed boldly with No Drones Peace Walk on the back. At the drone sites and at the Gandhi statue in Leicester many more people joined the protests, singing, reading poetry and at Waddingon there was some street theatre by a group from Hastings.

It was helpful that we had very little rain. It was helpful that Imran Khan also started his anti drone walk on Saturday in Pakistan. It was helpful that on Monday the Methodists, URC and Baptists put out a joint statement condemning British involvement in 'tagetted killing'. It was helpful that we were supported remotely by many who could not join the walk.
We think it was well worth it and we are glad we did it.
Penny, Maya, Bob and Bill

Click here for the photographs

For more information contact Penny at Leicester CND  01163 199487 or 07414 465695 or pennywalker@riseup.net or go to www.dronescampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
September 2012

Drones are planes without pilots which are increasingly seen as the preferred weapon of war. They are also being used in targetted killings in countries which are not at war particularly Pakistan but also in the Yemen and Somalia. Targetted killing has become an accepted form of military behaviour. We do not accept it.

Britain uses drones extensively in Afghanistan. The armed Reaper drone has fired 281 weapons in Afghanistan up to the end of May 2012 but it is very difficult to get information about the number of civilians killed in those attacks. Drones are surrounded by secrecy. Currently controlled remotely from the Nevada Desert, the control base is soon moving to RAF Waddington in Linclonshire. Britain has been renting a surveillance drone from Israel, the Hermes 450, but will soon have its updated equivalent, the Watchkeeper drone, in service. This is a  surveillance and targetting drone and is being made in Leicester with the engine made in Shenstone near Lichfield at the Israeli owned Elbit factory.

BAE Systems is also developing the Mantis drone which is not remotely controlled but runs on a preprogrammed plan. 31 countries now have large drones in military use. They fly for longer periods than piloted aircraft and present less danger to the attackers.  They make war more likely. They are terrifying to those on the ground.

During Drones Week of Action from 6 - 13 October a group of people will be walking from a drones factory near Lichfield to the drones factory in Leicester, and finishing at a drones control base near Lincoln. They will pass through five counties to raise awareness of the drones issue as we walk through towns and villages and visit drones sites to protest at what they are doing in solidarity with all those killed, injured or harmed by drones. The Walk:

  • Saturday 6th October Shenstone - meet at the train station at 10.30am then demonstration at the nearby Elbit factory - 11.30  walk 8 miles to Tamworth, evening meeting, venue to be confirmed
  • Sunday 7th leave Tamworth 9am for long walk (approx 17 miles)  to Hinckley
  • Monday 8th - leave Hinckley 10am for 12 mile walk to Leicester  and demonstration at the Thales Watchkeeper factory, Scudamore Road at 3.30, hosted in houses
  • Tuesday 9th - gather at Gandhi's statue, Belgrave Road 9.30 for readings, 10am leave for  Loughborough 12 miles, evening meeting in Loughborough, venue tbc
  • Wednesday 10th - leave Loughborough 9am, walk to Nottingham, 15 miles, staying in Friends Meeting House, peace supper.
  • Thursday 11th - leave FMH 9am, walk to Southwell,  13 miles
  • Friday 12th - leave Southwell on bus 28 to Newark at 9.38, then bus 47 from Newark at 10.40 to outskirts of Lincoln then walking 5 miles to Friends Meeting House.  Hosted in houses. Possible evening meeting.
  • Saturday 13th - leave Lincoln 9am, walk 6 miles to RAF Waddington and demonstration from 12 noon til 2pm.

There are regular buses along most of the route. Lunch and tea stops are being arranged giving us an opportunity to speak with people along the way. Some venues are yet to be confirmed and times may vary so please contact Penny at Leicester CNDif you are planning to take part - we also need numbers for hosts.  01163 199487 or 07414 465695 or pennywalker@riseup.net
For more information see: www.dronescampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
July 2012

Remote Killing of Civilians
The US has used armed drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia. There are already around 60 military and CIA bases around the world connected to the drones programme and more are being planned. The UK is currently using armed drones in Afghanstan.

Israel has used armed drones against Syria, Lebanon, Sudan and Palestine; 175 children have already been killed by drones, 160 of them in Pakistan.In regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan children are having to live with the fear that they could be killed at any point in time by unmanned drones patrolling the sky.

The US use of drones is helping to extend the war on terror into Africa whilst evading accountability to congress under the provisions of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. For example, US operations in Libya have not involved “…sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.” Thus war is not war if US troops are not in the line of fire. The Obama administration is devising a new tactic – that of long-range missiles and the increasing use of the CIA and Joint Service Operations Command (JSOC) to conduct drone strikes and be the invisible army on the ground.

According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism:
Total reported killed: 2,373 – 2,997
Civilians reported killed: 391 – 780
Children reported killed: 175
Total strikes: 309
Obama strikes: 257
175 children killed in just 309 lethal strikes

There are growing signs of opposition to drones strikes at UN and around the world. Navi Pillay, UN Commissioner for Human Rights, said during her recent fact finding tour of Pakistan that the strikes were "legally problematic". Meanwhile presenting his annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killing, Christof Heyns again called on the US to explain how it justifies the targeted killings. He has said: ‘ Current targeting practices weaken the rule of law. If it is true, that "there have been secondary drone strikes on rescuers who are helping (the injured) after an initial drone attack, those further attacks are a war crime". Heyns went on to ridicule the US suggestion that targeted UAV strikes on al-Qaida or allied groups were a legitimate response to the 9/11 attacks. "It's difficult to see how any killings carried out in 2012 can be justified as in response to [events] in 2001."

The Drones Campaign Network in the UK is organising a week of action to protest the growing use of armed drones from 6th – 13th October. The week coincides with the International Keep Space for Peace Week which focuses on the militarization of space.
The successful visit to RAF Waddington, organised by Sheffield CND in April is be followed up with another visit and a ‘ peace picnic’ on Sunday 23 September. And anyone is welcome to drop in any time after June 30th on Helen John (the veteran Greenham Commons campaigner) who is setting up camp there and is planning to stay in protest for the duration of the summer. Women are welcome to stay over; men are welcome to visit. Address: on the A15 from Waddington to Sleaford, look for a lay by on the left.
For more information see: www.dronescampaignnetwork.org.uk

Campaign Update
May 2012

American scientists have drawn up plans for a new generation of nuclear-powered drones capable of flying over remote regions of the world for months on end without refuelling. ‘It’s a pretty terrifying prospect. Drones are much less safe than other aircraft and tend to crash a lot. There is a major push by this industry to increase the use of drones’ claims Chris Coles of DronesWarsUK. Their popularity with the US government is not hard to find. They allow the US to kill ‘bad guys’ in countries such as Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan where no US troops are deployed and with no body bags to bring home from these obscure, undeclared battlefields. US Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, calls them ‘the only game in town’.

RAF 13 Squadron based at RAF Waddington near Lincoln will soon be controlling the Reaper drones used in Afghanistan by the British military. On April 1st a group from Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham and Leicester held a demonstration at the base, decorating the fencing with messages of peace and distributing leaflets. They will be going again on September 23rd to commemorate UN International Day of Peace with a Peace Picnic and hopefully with some entertainment,  music and poetry.

Current issues and campaigns are well covered on www.dronewars.net and often in Peace News. For further information on Drones and the campaign against them see: Drone Wars UK http://dronewarsuk.wordpresss.com/

Local Groups: Lincoln : Chesterfield : Leicester

Campaign Update
March 2012

As the manufacture and use of drones increases so does the concern and protest. A Drones Network Meeting was held in Birmingham on 14 January. Activists from England, Scotland and Wales (and the US) discussed the best strategy to address this growing threat. They identified five key issues around which to campaign: the domestic use of drones for surveillance; autonomy (the new trend is towards less human decision-making in pre-programmed attacks); International law and extra-judicial killing (the importance of a clear legal framework against assassinations); secrecy and lack of accountability; changing the face of warfare and making war more likely and less costly to the attacker and to politicians.

Five key areas of work were identified: outreach (including contact with families affected by drone strikes and clear  briefings), research, parliamentary work, protest/NVDA and good communication within the network and internationally to share knowledge and action. Actions were agreed to progress these ideas: a Watchkeeper Week of Action in May so that simultaneous or closely related events happen in Leicester at the Thales factory, in Shenstone at the Elbit wankel engine factory and in Parc Eberforth in Wales where they are testing the Watchkeeper.

There will also be events on Sunday April 1st at RAF Waddington where the new Reaper command base will move. The base is surrounded by long lengths of fence just crying out to be decorated and there is opportunity for other non-violent protests!  Sheffield and East Midlands CND members will be there to help raise awareness of this new form of warfare. The demonstration will start in front of the gate BEFORE the main gate in Brant Road (RAF Waddington is alongside the A15 Sleaford Road) and will be followed by a presence in Lincoln with leaflets and placards.’ There is transport from Sheffield and Leicester – for details email mathews@greenbee.net.  There will be another Drones Week of Action in October.

For more information please contact Leicester CND (0116 225 0133 or cndmiduk@yahoo.co.uk.) Current issues and campaigns are well covered on www.dronewars.net and often in Peace News.

See Local Groups: Chesterfield Leicester and Lincoln.

Campaign Update
December 2011

East Midlands region hosts a trio of key drones sites. The Thales/Elbit factory at 64, Scudamore Road, on the Braunston Frith Industrial Estate, Leicester is where the ‘Watchkeeper’ drone is being manufactured. These find targets and then send a laser beam down to show another weapon system where to strike. The UK is buying 54 Watchkeepers at a cost of £860m. The Leicester factory manages an international group of companies making them. The first 10 have been built in Israel and production is now transferring to Leicester.

See Local Groups: Leicester and Lincoln.
                                                                              

Campaign Update
August 2011

The US is reshaping its military strategy overseas towards an increasing use of drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), not just to spy on their enemies but to kill. The decision to fire missiles from these drones is made thousands of miles away from the conflict zone itself by pilots watching real time images on monitors - murder by remote control. Where the target is an individual (such as Osama Bin Laden or other ‘enemy’ leader) the use amounts to extra-judicial killing and is contrary to international law.

The US and UK currently deploy armed drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Libya. Far from being the accurate weapon that the military claim drones are increasingly responsible for civilian casualties. Official statistics of civilian casualties have not been released by the Ministry of Defence but they recently admitted to killing 4 civilians in a drone attack in Afghanistan in March. Research done by the New America Bureau estimated that around a third of all casualties from drone attacks in Pakistan were civilian.

Drones are seen as the weapon of the future by the military and both the US and UK are investing heavily in this technology. The UK plan to double their number of Reaper drones by 2013 at the cost of £135 million.

Plans for fully automated systems (without the need for human decision making) are already in development. “It would only be a small technical step to enable an unmanned aircraft to fire a weapon based solely on its own sensors, and without recourse to higher, human authority” according to the Ministry of Defence. UK drones are controlled remotely by 39 Squadron currently based at Creech, Nevada but a new  ‘Reaper Squadron’ is being formed to be based at RAF Waddington, in Lincolnshire. From September 3rd (the anniversary of the start of World War 2) a peace camp is being established at RAF Waddington , near Lincoln, LN5 9NB - for further details of the camp contact Yorkshire CND on 01274 730 795.

Drones will also be a focus of “Keep Space for Peace” week from the 1st - 8th October (see www.space4peace.org/) and a large exhibition of drones will be on display as part of the DSEi (Defence & Security international) Arms Fair in London on Tuesday 13 September, where Campaign Against the Arms Trade will protest, preceded by a mass lobby of Parliament at 11.30am. More information from www.caat.org.uk  or www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk   For further information on Drones and the campaign against them see:

Drone Wars UK http://dronewarsuk.wordpress.com/

Campaign Update
April 2011

In  Leicester the so-called ‘Thales’ factory on Scudamore Road on the Braunston Estate is one of the places where a new drone The Watchkeeper is being made. The armed drones are now being deployed in Lybia, and increasingly we can see the negative effects of their deployment in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where unintended deaths of peaceful civilians are increasingly alienating the local populations from Western intervention. On 14 March Leicester CND held a meeting to discuss the use of Drones and UAVs in modern warfare with Chris Cole.

Contact EMCND

 
 

 

 
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