With Call to 'End the Drone Wars,' Activists Cut Their Way into UK Air Force Base
Four people arrested for aggravated trespass after entering RAF Waddington armed with banners and reports of civilian deaths
Four demonstrators opposed to Britain's prolonged participation in foreign wars and use of armed drones were arrested on Monday after cutting through a fence at the Waddington Royal Air Force base near Lincolnshire, UK.
According to the Guardian, RAF Waddington has been the growing focus of recent protests over Britain’s operation of unmanned aerial vehicles, which are controlled from the base.
"Behind the rebranding, war is as brutal and deadly as it has always been with civilians killed, communities destroyed, and the next generation traumatized. And so we have come to RAF Waddington, the home of drone warfare here in the UK to say clearly and simply ‘End the Drone War’."
Before being intercepted and arrested for criminal trespass, the small group said their intention was to create a "New Year gateway for peace" by cutting a hole in the security perimeter. The four carried a banner which said "End the drone wars" as well as reports documenting the number of civilian casualties arising from recent UK, NATO and coalition airstrikes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As the BBC reports:
The group were protesting at RAF Waddington about the use of armed drones, controlled from the base, which they claim cause civilian casualties.
The four, from Oxford, Nottingham, Leicester and Coventry, are currently in police custody.
An RAF spokesman said operation of the drones - known as Reapers - was unaffected.
The group, calling itself End The Drone Wars, named the protesters as Chris Cole, 51, from Oxford, Katharina Karcher, 30, from Coventry, Gary Eagling, 52, from Nottingham and Penny Walker, 64, from Leicester.
Explaining the reasons for their action on Monday, the demonstrators released a joint statement, which read:
We come to RAF Waddington today to say a clear ‘no’ to the growing normalisation and acceptability of drone warfare. 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. And so we have come to RAF Waddington, the home of drone warfare here in the UK to say clearly and simply ‘End the Drone War’.
Monday's direct action is only the latest in a series of protests directed at the RAF's participation in the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere.