Protesters arrested and charged after breaching security at UK drone base

inside waddingtonFour protesters (including myself) were arrested at RAF Waddington yesterday protesting the normalisation of drone warfare.   In a statement released at the time of the protest, the four said:

“War we are told is no longer the hell it once was. Thanks to the marketing of drone war as ‘risk free’, ‘precise’ and above all ‘humanitarian’, war has been rehabilitated and accepted as virtually normal by those who see little or nothing of the impact on the ground thousands of miles away. Remote wars mean most no longer hear, see or smell the impact of bombs and missiles. With just a little effort we can almost believe that war is not happening at all. But behind the rebranding, war is as brutal and deadly as it has always been with civilians killed, communities destroyed, and the next generation traumatized. (See full statement below)

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MoD’s drones PR offensive continues as UK commits to a drone filled future

Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois speaks to Reaper pilots at RAF Waddington
Armed Forces Minister Mark Francois speaks to Reaper pilots at RAF Waddington

As we reported, in December the MoD began a PR offensive on the UK’s use of drones by inviting selected members of the press to RAF Waddington in order that the MoD could correct the  “wild misrepresentations” about drones put about by drone activists.

As part of this initiative, UK Defence Secretary wrote an op-ed piece in the Guardian to which a former US intelligence analyst, Heather Linebaugh scathingly responded  “few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have a real clue of what actually goes on.” Read more

MoD undertakes PR offensive on drones

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond holds a Black Hornet drone at RAF Waddington
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond holds a Black Hornet drone at RAF Waddington

The MoD has launched a carefully controlled PR exercise to defend its use of armed drones.  A selected number of journalist were invited to RAF Waddington to view the new Reaper control centre that has been operating UK drones in Afghanistan since last April.   As well as being able to view RAF pilots controlling Reapers, the MoD also put on display the UK’s other five unarmed drones.

As usual whether to call these aircraft ‘drones’ or ‘unmanned aerial vehicles’ or ‘remotely piloted aircraft’ seems to have taken up an extraordinary amount of time. Read more

Drone protests just beginning say activists

drone_protest_courtAs many of you will have seen reported in the media the Waddington Six trial took place yesterday.  All six  spoke about the dangers of drone warfare and how the use of drones by British forces breaches international law.   District Judge John Stoddert listened carefully to everything that was said, but stated that he felt constrained by what he could do.  As has been reported in various media, the judge said that he convicted “with a heavy heart” and then went on to urge the six to appeal to a higher court as there were important issues in the case that needed careful examination.  The six are considering their next move.    For a good summary of the day see War isn’t a video game: witnessing (against) drone warfare. Read more

‘Waddington Six’ to go on trial next week

The Waddington Six: (from left) Revd Keith Hebden, Chris Cole, Fr Martin Newell, Penny Walker, Susan Clarkson and Henrietta Cullinan.
The Waddington Six: (from left) Revd Keith Hebden, Chris Cole, Fr Martin Newell, Penny Walker, Susan Clarkson and Henrietta Cullinan.

Next Monday (7th October) six peace activists will go on trial at Lincoln Magistrates Court following an anti-drone war protest at RAF Waddington in June 2013.   The six, Susan Clarkson, Chris Cole, Henrietta Cullinan, Keith Hebden, Martin Newell and Penny Walker, were originally charged with conspiracy and aggravated trespass, but these charges were dropped and replaced with a single charge of criminal damage to the perimeter fence.  All six intended to plead ‘not guilty’ arguing that their actions were reasonable in the circumstances.

The trial comes during the Drones Week of Action, which is itself part of the International Keep Space for Peace Week. Many events are taking place around the country raising awareness of the growing use of armed drones. Read more

Drone base invasion steps up pressure on those attempting to maintain secrecy

The Waddington Six: (from left) Revd Keith Hebden, Chris Cole, Fr Martin Newell, Penny Walker, Susan Clarkson and Henrietta Cullinan.
The Waddington Six: (from left) Revd Keith Hebden, Chris Cole, Fr Martin Newell, Penny Walker, Susan Clarkson and Henrietta Cullinan.

Six anti-drone protesters (myself included) were arrested inside RAF Waddington on Monday (June 3). The protest had three aims; 1) to symbolically breach the secrecy and silence surrounding the British use of armed drones; 2) to bring information about the impact of airstrikes on Afghan civilians  and 3) to symbolically begin conversion of the air base to peaceful purposes.   We did this by creating a peace garden within the base, displaying information on buildings, hangars and sign posts about the impact of airstrikes on Afghan civilians (see bottom of post)  and trying to find out information about the day-to-day use of drones at Waddington. Read more