UK
Peace campaigners to go on trial during week of action against armed drones
26.09.2013


Campaigners are organising a series of events across the UK to "promote understanding and resistance to the growing use of drones and remote warfare", during a week in which six protesters will face trial after being arrested at a demonstration at a Royal Air Force (RAF) base.

The Drones Week of Action takes place from 5 to 12 October and is part of International Keep Space for Peace Week.

Venues across the country will play host to concerts, discussions and meetings, while a number of prominent military sites - such as the US National Security Agency's base at Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire - will see protests outside.

The events coincide with the trial of the 'Waddington 6', a group of people who in June this year damaged a security fence and trespassed at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire, which since April has hosted the UK's squadron of drone pilots. They previously operated from a US airbase in Nevada.

The group entered the base during a protest against the use of drones in Afghanistan. Whilst inside the base they hung up photos of people killed in drone strikes and planted a "peace garden" - to "symbolically begin conversion of the air base to peaceful purposes" - before being arrested. [1]

They are due to appear at Lincoln Magistrates' Court on 7 October on charges of criminal damage, conspiring to commit criminal damage and obstructing or disrupting a person engaged in lawful activity. [2]

The accused have been assured that their arguments as to why they entered the base will be "listened to in full" and they intend to use as part of their defence a paper published earlier this year by Public Interest Lawyers, which argues that "it is highly like that the UK's current use of drones is unlawful".

The paper goes on to argue that there is:

"A strong probability that the UK has misdirected itself as to the requirements of the IHL [International Humanitarian Law] principles of proportionality, distinction and humanity and as to its human rights obligations to protect human life and to investigate all deaths (civilians and combatants alike) arguably casued in breach of that obligation." [3]

More information about the trial will be available from the Drone Wars UK website as it becomes available.

The Drone Campaign Network, which is organising the Week of Action, is encouraging others to organise events where they live and has produced a resource pack that can be used by those organising events. [4]

Peace activists appear in court following protests at arms fair

In related news, the Christian newspaper Ekklesia has a report on five protesters who appeared in court this week charged with a breach of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 whilst blocking an entrance to the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) arms fair earlier this month. [5]


Sources
[1] Chris Cole, Drone base invasion steps up pressure on those attempting to maintain secrecy, Drone Wars UK, 7 June 2013
[2] RAF Waddington drones protesters face trial, BBC News, 4 July 2013
[3] Public Interest Lawyers, The Legality of the UK's Use of Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones), 3 June 2013
[4] Week of Action Resources, Drone Campaign Network
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