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UK Drone Protesters Say Stop the 'Barbaric, High-Tech Killing'

Hundreds gather in largest anti-drone rally in UK called to protest the opening of new Reaper control center

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

(Photo: @CNDuk/ Twitter)Hundreds of peace campaigners gathered Saturday outside a new Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle control center in the UK countryside to say it is "time to end killer drones."

In what is being called the UK's biggest anti-drone protest to date, over 400 demonstrators took part in a march and rally outside of the UK's new drone headquarters at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Waddington in Lincolnshire, three hours north of London. 

According to a local news outlet, demonstrators carried banners and drums and marched chanting: "David Cameron, CIA, how many kids have you killed today?" and "War's not a video game, every Afghan has a name."

A protester identified as Ms. John told the crowd outside the compound, "This base is a smokescreen for the work that's going on in killing children across the world."

Saturday's rally and march was organized by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), the Drone Campaign Network, Stop the War Coalition and War on Want.

According to The Guardian, the British Ministry of Defense began carrying out missile-carrying Reaper aircraft missions from the newly built headquarters earlier this week. Previously, the RAF had been piloting the unmanned aircraft in attacks against Afghanistan from the Creech airforce base in Nevada.

Ahead of the protest, War on Want senior campaigns officer for militarism and security, Rafeef Ziadah said in a statement, "Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians' decisions to launch military strikes and order extrajudicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public. Now is the time to ban killer drones – before it is too late."

"It's time to end this remote killing before even more innocent civilians are slaughtered - they are the main victims in this barbaric form of high-tech killing," added Kate Hudson, general secretary for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

"I think there's something quite sinister about the idea that military personnel in Lincolnshire can press a button and take out and kill unnamed targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan or wherever," said Chris Nineham, vice-chair of the Stop the War Coalition.

"Drones are being used to continue the deeply unpopular War on Terror, with no public scrutiny," he added. "They're using them to fight wars behind our backs."

Reportedly, the RAF has purchased five more Reaper aircraft—bringing the total to 10—which they are expected to deploy in Afghanistan over the summer. British UAVs have flown 45,000 hours in Afghanistan, and fired 350 weapons, including Hellfire missiles.

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