– Åsmund Løvdal contributed to this report
“Every Afghan have a name, war is not a video game!” “1, 2, 3, 4, we don’t want your drone war. 5, 6, 7, 8, spend it on the welfare state!” Chants filled the air on an otherwise quiet afternoon as hundreds of protesters marched from Lincoln South Park through Bracebridge Heath towards the RAF base at Waddington on Saturday, April 27th, 2013.
They demanded and end to Britain’s development and use of heavily-armed unmanned aircrafts know as drones.
Peace campaigners had come from all across Britain to protest against what they called “long distance warfare” and the number of civilians killed in drone strikes.
Before the drone controls at Waddingtion became operational last week, all British drone missions over Afghanistan had been operated from Creech air force base in Nevada. The Ministry of Defence has insisted that the UK unmanned aircrafts are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots, and that they are bound by the same strict laws of engagement that applies for manned RAF aircraft.
Chris Cole, who runs the Drone Wars UK blog, said this was the first national protest against drones in Britain, and he promised that there would be many more in the future.
He said that between 2,500 and 3,500 people have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004: “450 to 900 of these are identified as civilians, including around 200 children. It if dreadful that a man sitting in his chair can assassinate others on the other side of the world with just a click of a button. ”
Chris Nineham, vice-chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, who conducted the demonstration with his megaphone, said that the government used the drone technology to fight wars behind the public’s back.
He continued: “By using drones they don’t need to deploy human soldiers. They clearly try to avoid public debate and scrutiny into how, why and where the drones are used.”
One of the speakers at the rally, Labour MP for North Islington Jeremy Corbyn, denounced the use of drones and said the document casualties from drones show how deadly.
He said: “The operator sits in a room thousands of miles away and tries to decide if what he sees on the ground is a wedding party or a Taliban meeting. They tend to bomb them anyway, just to be on the safe side.”
Elene Smith and Sue Jenkins had traveled to Lincoln from Wellingborough in Northamptonshire to participate in the demonstration.
They said they feared that the use of drones by Britain and other countries only results in more hate against western nations and more terrorism: “The use of drones is just wrong, it does not make it safer us here in Britain or in the countries they are used. It only breeds more violence, something must be done. “Tweet