Drone protesters campaign in Lincoln

A group of peace activists rallied outside Lincoln Magistrates Court recently to demonstrate against the RAF Waddington’s alleged use of drones.

The drone protest outside Lincoln Magistrates Court. Photo: Emma Keller

The drone protest outside Lincoln Magistrates Court. Photo: Emma Keller

The protest was staged on Monday, October 7th as six members of their group were found guilty of causing criminal damage after breaking into RAF Waddington earlier this summer.

The six, including Susan Clarkson, Chris Cole, Henrietta Cullinan, Keith Hebden, Martin Newell and Penny Walker illegally cut into the base in June.

They then displayed news articles about drone civilian child victims and planted a peace garden.

Each member of the group, dubbed the ‘Waddington 6’, were sentenced to six months conditional discharge and ordered to pay £100 each in costs and compensation.

Chris Cole, one of the Waddington 6 prosecuted, 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 deserve a high level of public scrutiny and accountability.”

The protest, which also coincides with the Drones Week of Action between 5-12 October, occurred on the 12 year anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.

A large towel, acting as a memorial for all the children who have lost their lives to drone attacks in Afghanistan. Photo: Emma Keller

A large towel, acting as a memorial for all the children who have lost their lives to drone attacks in Afghanistan. Photo: Emma Keller

Mary Dobbing, a researcher for Drone Wars UK, was one of the campaigners against the drones. She said:

“What we’re doing here today is putting drones on trial. It’s not them (the Waddington 6) on trial, it’s the military drones.”

“Drones are futuristic warfare where missiles and bombs can be dropped without putting our troops on the ground. Because of this, we think it makes war more likely.

“Officers are controlling drones from RAF Waddington via satellite and tracking people in Afghanistan.”

The RAF deny the use of drones however, stating that it is a common misconception. They fly Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) which are operated under the command of NATO International Security and Assistance Forces.

The UK’S only armed RPAS is called the Reaper which operates under the legal authority of UN Security Council resolutions.

An RAF spokesman said:

“Reapers are no different to any other aircraft apart from our people sit on the ground flying them rather than sitting in the air. Reapers are not autonomous; there is always a man in the loop controlling the system.”

“They provide persistent intelligence and surveillance and can also drop bombs and fire laser-guided weapons at the enemy.

“They are undoubtedly helping to save the lives of our forces, our allies and those of countless Afghan civilians. “

He added:

“We fully respect people’s right to protest peacefully and within the law and do nothing to prevent members of the public exercising their right to peaceful protest.”

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