This year May Day marks our fourth birthday. We are proud of the work we have done to expose and challenge the growing use of armed drones, but their continued use – and the prospect of future drone wars as proliferation takes off – gives us little cause for celebration. Read more
The Drone Campaign Network is holding a day gathering for those interested in campaigning on the growing use of drones. The event will take place at Friends Meeting House, Euston on Saturday 14 June. The day will include speakers, workshops and planning for the Week of Action on Drones later this year. Speakers include
- Jennifer Gibson, Reprieve
- Alice Ross, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism
- Chris Cole, Drone Wars UK
- Chris Jones, Statewatch
Workshops will focus on national and local campaigns around the use of both military and civil drones.
The event is free but donations are welcome. Read more
Ben Emmerson, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and countering terrorism has issued his final report into the impact of drone strikes on civilians. Briefly, as I have only just seen it, the report looks at recent civilian casualty rates from drone strikes and examines 30 case studies of drone strikes in which there were reports or indications of civilian casualties
Most importantly the report specifically recommends the UK, the US and Israel release more information about these strikes and calls for panel of experts to further investigate the issue. More soon.
QinetiQ announced this year they are working to develop Llanbedr Airfield (near Snowden) as a new drone operating centre linked with Parc Aberporth (and it’s always important to remember QinetiQ’s shady origins). In December the US renewed an agreement with Qatar to host the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid airbase from which the air war in Afghanistan is run. Lots was written about drones operating in the US this year, but we particularly liked this piece about what the real questions Americans should be asking about drones. As always Quakers continue to be at the forefront of opposition to drone warfare. Read more
In February Human Rights Watch released a report detailing how IDF drones violated the Laws of War during operation Pillar of Defence, while War on Want released a report on UK links with the Israeli drone industry. Drone Wars UK will be releasing its own report on Israel and the drone wars in January 2014. Imran Khan continued to lead opposition to US drone strikes in Pakistan, initiating a blockade of NATO supplies in December. Regulators continue to press ahead with plans for the integration of drones into civil airspace. Read more
It was good to see large numbers turn out at a big protest at Parc Aberporth, the drone test centre in West Wales, in September as the owners announced a big expansion. It was even better to see Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye released from prison even though he is still under virtual house arrest. Phase two of the UK government-industry programme, ASTRAEA, which aims to open up UK airspace to civil drones, came to an end this year. While the drone lobby is keeping up the pressure the public remain extremely sceptical. News that British drones may be heading to Africa came as a big surprise, and will no doubt be a focus of campaigning in the coming year. Read more