Declaring Saturday a "Global Action Day Against the Use of Drones for Surveillance and Killing," international campaigners are planning simultaneous creative direct actions to demand that governments stop producing and acquiring drones, stop enabling them through infrastructure, including military bases and space satellites, and ultimately, instate a total ban on these weapons.
From Berlin, Germany to Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom, activists will "Fly Kites Not Drones" as a show of solidarity to all people who live under these remotely piloted weapons. "Since 80 percent of all U.S. 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," said Luehr Henken of the Germany-based Peace Coordination Berlin & Bundesausschuss.
Activists are also planning teach-ins, banner drops, and rallies, as well as vigils at numerous drone bases in the United States. The vast majority of the over 40 scheduled events will take place in Western Europe and the United States, with actions also planned in Jeju Island, South Korea. Participants and organizers hail from organizations including Germany-based Drohnen-Kampagne and U.S.-based CODEPINK.
The day of action comes as the U.S. enters its eighth week of an expanding air war against Iraq, and second week of ongoing bombardments of Syria, which are being waged by a combination of manned and drone aircraft, with the U.S. Central Common providing little information about the precise weapons used.
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According to Nick Mottern, Coordinator of the U.S.-based Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare, this expanding U.S.-led war makes Saturday's protests especially urgent. "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," he said.
But the concerns highlighted in Saturday's protests span the entire globe, including: U.S.-led covert drone wars on Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia; UK plans to deploy reaper drones to the Middle East and Africa; Israel's use of drones against Palestinian people; the German government's acquisition of "weaponizable" drones; and increased use of drones for spying and domestic policing.
"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," said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK.
Organizers say that the war-weary public must remain vigilant in protesting the increased use of these weapons, which not only spread harm, but also divert resources from critical public services. "People are dying every day from hunger and lack of access to water and food," said Reiner Braun of the Germany-based International Peace Bureau. "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."