'Waddington 6' Plead 'Not Guilty' and Say Drone Are Illegal
LONDON - TRIAL OF THE FIRST MASS TRESPASS into drone base RAF Waddington is due to take place on Monday 7th October 10am, the 12 year anniversary of the Afghan invasion, where six peace campaigners will stand trial for “criminal damage” in Lincoln for cutting into the base, displaying news articles about drone civilian victims and planting a peace garden.
The six include Dr Rev. Keith Hebden, grandmother Penny Walker, drones researcher Chris Cole, teacher Henrietta Cullinan, pensioner Susan Clarkson and Father Martin Newell who will plead ‘not guilty’ and intend to argue that their actions were reasonable in the circumstances, while questioning the legality and morality of drones and highlighting the current MoD secrecy which shrouds the deaths of hundreds of civilians.
Chris Cole (1), father of three, said: “Reliable reports show that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocent civilians have been killed in drone strikes. It is surely right that the UK drone operations being run from RAF Waddington deserves a high level of public scrutiny and accountability.”
The trial also happens to fall within the drones week of action 5-12th October (2) where members of the group will tour the UK speaking about the true cost of drone warfare both financially, ethically and to the cost of life.
Grandmother Penny Walker said: “Drone warfare is chilling and terrifying to live with in Afghanistan, never knowing when you or your neighbour will be attacked. Children are living in relentless fear. Since this is being done in my name I have a responsibility to do all I can to stop it.”
She added: “With drones, the huge distance between the people making the decision to kill and the people being killed can protect the killers from the reality of their deed. While I was there I wanted to communicate the reality of a drone strike on Afghan families and what it is like for them to live in fear.”
The defendants plan to draw upon the recently publish legal opinion on the use of armed drones by UK forces in Afghanistan, it includes:
“It is highly likely that the UK’s current use of drones is unlawful. There is a strong probability that the UK has misdirected itself as to the requirements of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) principles of proportionality, distinction and humanity and as to its human rights obligation to protect human life and to investigate all deaths (civilians and combatants alike) arguably caused in breach of that obligation.”(3)
Dr Rev Keith Hebden, father of two, said: “People cannot surrender to drones, drones cannot check to see if those left behind are dead or slowly dying, drones lack reality and humanity and yet are used in arenas that previously required human beings to be involved.”
Contact: Maya Evans 07973 484 202/ Chris Cole 07960 811 437
(1) Chris Cole is the coordinator of research organization Drone Wars UK http://dronewars.net/