Berlin: Anti-drone campaigns in the US, the UK, and continental Europe are mounting the first Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing on October 4, 2014.
More than 40 actions will take place in several countries. Founded at an international meeting in Berlin in December, Global Action Day is working together with the US Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare, the UK Drone Campaign Network’s Week of Action and the Global Network’s Keep Space for Peace Week. Both action weeks begin on October 4th.
The locally initiated actions will take many forms: “Fly Kites Not Drones” events inspired by drone resistance in Afghanistan; demonstrations at drone warfare US military bases in the US, the UK and Germany; actions at businesses working with Israeli weapons manufacturers; and the initiation of an international consumer boycott against the Honeywell firm, which provides key parts for the armed US Reaper drones as well as for Apple computers. Lectures and conferences are also planned.
Over the past few months, several new developments have lent increased urgency to the key demand of Global Action Day — that governments “cease the production and acquisition of armed drones,” prohibit any use of military facilities “to enable drone surveillance and to trigger drone killings,” and instead “work towards a worldwide ban on these weapons”:
- In August and September the US military violated Syrian sovereignty in a “no boots on the ground” war relying heavily on drones — without approval of the UN, the US Congress, European allies, or the Syrian government. The US relies on Ramstein Air Base in Germany for its global drone wars.
- Awareness of the danger of a drone arms race has risen after Hezbollah struck with armed drones in Syria (as reported by the Iranian Fars news agency on September 21st), becoming the first “non-state” actor and the fourth entity after Israel, the US, and the UK to use drones for killing.
- The British Ministry of Defence is threatening to deploy its 10 armed US Reaper drones (presently in Afghanistan) for missions in the Middle East and Africa, potentially following the US down the path towards a lawless so-called “targeted killing” policy in violation of national sovereignty rights.
- The German Defence Ministry announced in July that it would soon acquire “weaponizable” drones, either US Predators or Israeli Heron TPs (first tested in Israel’s 2009 “Cast Lead” attack ).
No country in continental Europe yet has armed drones in its arsenal. However, Italy, France and the Netherlands have already purchased “weaponizable” US Reaper drones, andFrance and Italy are seeking to arm theirs. The EU and European countries are also investing in drone research and development.
But the use of drones for “extrajudicial targeted killings” still faces strong opposition in Germany. And in a landslide vote (534 to 49) on February 27th, the European Parliament passed a Resolution demanding strong measures against the use of drones for “targeted killings” and prohibiting robotized fully autonomous weapons systems, which some NGOs and experts fear will be the inevitable result of the ongoing drones arms race.
Why We Are Participating in the Global Action Day on October 4th
Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder of CODEPINK (USA): Instead of rushing to try to compete with the US and Israel by obtaining their own drones, the nations and peoples of the world could far better protect themselves by working together to enforce an international ban on these dangerous weapons — an approach has already been successful in the case of chemical weapons, land mines and cluster bombs.
Reiner Braun, Co-President IPB-International Peace Bureau (Germany): People are dying every day from hunger and lack of access to water and food. Our governments’ answer to this is to invest more money in weapons, especially drones, which are being used to violate international law. This misguided policy of killing people thousands of kilometers away with the push of a button must be stopped.
Chris Cole, Founder of Drone Wars (UK): The so-called ‘risk free’ nature of drone warfare tempts us into opting for a military response, even when there is little or no evidence that it will be effective or successful. This is not only a serious threat to global peace and security but will no doubt increase the threat of terrorism right here in Europe. Instead of sending its armed drones from the skies of Afghanistan to the Middle East, the UK should be undertaking a thorough evaluation of the actual impact of these systems on the ground and their long-term implications for both UK and global peace and security.
Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space (USA): Keep Space for Peace Week is working together with Global Action Day. We seek to educate people all over the world about the growing and destabilizing of space. This highly profitable space technology now coordinates all warfare on the planet – drones, ships, tanks, missiles, and even troops on the ground use military satellites to direct their war making.
Luehr Henken, Peace Coordination Berlin & Bundesausschuss Friedensratschlag (Germany): Since 80% of all US drone strike victims so far have been Afghans, and since flying kites is a popular national sport in Afghanistan, I support the “Fly Kites Not Drones” actions in Germany on October 4th.
Nick Mottern, Coordinator, Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare (USA): The illegal, unethical American drone-dependent air war against Iraqis and Syrians is demonstrating beyond doubt the need for an immediate global ban on weaponized drones and drone surveillance.
Chris Nineham, Vice Chair Stop the War Coalition (UK): We are now into a third war in Iraq. Drones and aerial bombardment will kill innocents and spread chaos and inflame violence. We will be demonstrating this Saturday, October 4th, to bring an end to this madness.
Agneta Norberg, vice chair Swedish Peace Council (Sweden): Stop training drones in Sweden. We want windmills instead and a secure nature in the Mountains. In 2015 nEUROn, a coproduction by Swedish Saab, French Dassault Aviation and four other countries will be launched at NEAT in the North of Sweden. It is a prototype drone that cannot be seen on radar.
Elsa Rassbach, CODEPINK & German Drone Campaign (USA & Germany): The UN and the global community must stand up to the US and Israel, insist on respect for international law, and sanction the illegal drone wars. People in countries like Germany, who from their own history understand the disastrous consequences of such lawlessness, can and should play a leading role and, for example, forbid the use of Ramstein and AFRICOM for the drone wars.
Peter Strutynski, Peace Scholar & Speaker of Bundesausschuss Friedensratschlag (Germany): Because people are less and less willing to accept wars and interventions, the deployment of armed drones has become an increasingly important method for conducting war. The new wars for resources and geopolitical goals can be conducted “without risk”. It is only “the others” who die.
Laura von Wimmersperg, Peace Coordination Berlin (Germany): Combat drones are not merely bombers without pilots. They are killing machines that will later be programmed so that they can autonomously make decisions regarding military missions and targets and thus regarding life and death. Their introduction must not be taken lightly: with drones a new chapter of modern warfare has begun. Resistance is essential.