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There will be a 'Ground the Drones' demo on Saturday (27th April) at RAF Waddington in Lincoln. The base is about to become the new launch pad for the UK's fleet of drones – prior to that they've been operated from a base just outside of Las Vegas. This represents a marked step up of the UKs involvement in drone warfare in the skies of the Middle East and closer to home. As well as setting up the new centre for drone operations, the UK is increasing its fleet of the armed Reaper drones from five to ten..

The UK has launched at least 365 drone strikes in Afghanistan alone, but the MoD states these have resulted in a staggeringly low four civilian causalities. As Drone Wars UK point out, 366 drone strikes by the US in neighbouring Pakistan resulted in deaths in the region of 2,562-3,325 including 176 children, (figures by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism).

Given that Reaper (nee Predator) drones are armed with Hellfire misiles and laser guided Paveway bombs either the bombing has achieved an almost magical level of accuracy or the figures are bent.

The world's leading exponents of remote controlled death from above, the U.S , have been similarly cavalier with the figures. They claimed in 2011 that civilian casualities from drone strikes were either 'non-existent' or 'single digit'.

Research published late last year, as legal challenges by drone victims in the hard-hit Waziristan area of Pakistan were launched, showed that the civilian death count from drone warfare was in the thousands. A Stanford/New York University report also highlighted the reality of 'Living Under Drones'. It states, unsurprisingly, “Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.” Protests against drones have picked up the pace in Yemen, Palestine and Pakistan, where thousands of people took part in a peace march to Waziristan in October last year.


UK companies have rushed to get involved in wreaking terror over Pakistan and Afghanistan, as anti-arms trade campaign Smash EDO has been pointing out for many years. However, EDO MBM aren't the only UK company making a killing. Recently released information shows arms corporation Cobham Plc was granted 31 drone export licences between 2008-2012. The company makes antennas and other parts for US Predator drones used in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hopefully, the company will feel the heat like other war profiteers General Electric Intelligence Platforms, who faced a backlash during their sponsorship of the Olympics last year. GEIP have now pulled out of their dealings with the US.

Currently the drones used by the UK are Reapers bought from the US, along with a few on lease from Israel. However new models are being developed specifically for the MoD by BAE Systems, and a new surveillance model is on the way courtesy of Israeli occupation profiteers Elbit and its UK partner Thales UK.

The fear that drones may be used for civilian surveillance is being born out by the recent announcement that the Northern Ireland police are buying three drones, at a cost of well over £1m, for use at the G8 summit in June. The drones can relay high-quality photos straight to base camp. Focusing on 'protest venues' and the likelihood of huge demos nationwide, its the first time drones have been purposefully acquired to monitor the domestic population in matters of civil disobedience.


The Waddington demo coincides with the April Days of Action against UAVs across the States. US-wide demonstrations, lectures and events have been taking place organised by a coalition of peace and anti-drone groups called the Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare (NSDSW), women's peace organisation Codepink and the No Drones Network have been heavily involved: a Codepink-led protest took place in San Diego (capital of drone production) for several days against General Atomics, who make Predator drones. The CEO, Neal Blue, saw his home become an uncomfortable target with protesters lambasting him as someone who literally 'makes a killing out of killing'. The demo resulted in the corporation/state irony of the week - anti-drone activists in San Diego, attempting to fly a pretend drone over Blue's house were prevented from doing so, because “it might hurt somebody”.

Economic and business groups from San Diego, along with groups from 37 other states, are competing to become one of six congressional mandate drone test sites. And it's not just military testing that may result in drones becoming a familiar sight in the skies of a nation who normally hides behind remote controls at a comfortable distance. The head of San Diego's Economic Development Corporation was quoted as saying the drone licences were desirable because, “Unmanned systems are critical to advancing everything from firefighting to protecting agriculture to search and rescue efforts, predicting weather and inspecting utility lines.” The implication this has for policing and surveillance hasn't been missed.

In Missouri activists targetted Whiteman AFB, an air force base where drone pilots are known to operate; in Chicago street theatre protesters drew attention to Boeings newest killer drones and in Boston a Drone Death Walk was staged. In Nevada, fourteen people were arrested at the beginning of the month protesting outside the Creech Air Force Base where Pakistan drones are operated from.

For more information on the Ground the Drones Protest, including plans and transport:

For more info:


There is 1 comment on this story...
Added By: Anonymous - 26th April 2013 @ 8:53 PM
The number of civilian casualties are so low because the US considers all military aged males killed or injured in a strike zone to be militants.

If you are unfortunate enough to be in a strike zone you are obviously an enemy of the good old US of A.
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