Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum
25 October 2012
Drone information stall in Wrexham as RAF sets to double number of Drones operating in Afghanistan and questions are asked about British involvement in drone warfare.
DRONES IN THE NEWS
Drones have been in the national and international news this week and the spotlight is shifting onto the role of the UK in drone warfare.
The RAF has announced that it will be operating ten rather than the current five armed Reaper drones in Afghanistan and that these will eventually all be controlled from RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire rather than from Creech in Nevada as at present; there is a ceremony at Waddington to launch the new drones '13-Squadron' on Friday .
In a two day High Court hearing in London, a man whose father was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan brought a legal challenge which questions the legality of UK support for US drone strikes .
While this hearing was taking place, another drone attack in Pakistan killed at least one woman .
In Pakistan, the Peshawar High Court issued a notice to former Pakistani President General (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf to appear at the next hearing to give evidence. Musharraf is accused of allowing drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan .
In the US both the main Presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and the current President Barack Obama, are in favour of secret drone strikes even though these have been shown to have killed thousands of innocent people .
DRONE INFORMATION STALL IN WREXHAM
Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum held an information stall outside the Library in Wrexham at lunchtime on Thursday 25 October to raise awareness of the issues, particularly the effects of drone attacks on civilian populations  and the extreme secrecy around British drone strikes in Afghanistan. In not much more than an hour hundreds of leaflets were distributed and over 50 people signed a petition calling for Britain to 'Lift the Veil on the Drone War' .
Members of Wrexham Peace & Justice Forum will also take part in a protest against Britain's involvement in drone warfare at RAF Waddington on Friday 26 October .
Drones are of particular relevance to Wales as a huge area of airspace between Aberporth and Epynt is now designated for the testing of drones, one of only two areas in Europe. There have been at least two crashes and those living under the flight zone have to put up with the noise as well as the anxiety of further accidents .
The RAF 'stands up' its new drone squadron in a ceremony at RAF Waddington, and is increasing the number of armed Reaper drones from five to ten, each of which carries 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles. The UK will begin to control its drones from RAF Waddington in Lincs. rather than from Creech in Nevada as at present.
The case of Khan v Sec. Of State for FCO is heard in the High Court in London. This is a legal challenge by a man whose father was killed in a CIA drone strike in Pakistan. There is evidence that UK intelligence officials from GCHQ provide “locational intelligence” to the CIA in USA for drone attacks and that spy agencies have been pinpointing targets for killing. The court has been told that UK support for US drone strikes may be a war crime.
Another drone strike in Pakistan kills and injures civilians.
The Peshawar High Court (Pakistan) issued a notice to former Pakistani President General (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf to appear at the next hearing to give evidence. Musharraf is accused of allowing drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Hundreds of thousands of people are living in constant fear of their lives with drones flying overhead 24/7.
A recent debate between the two main candidates for the next US Presidency have shown that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are in full agreement with each other that secret unmanned US missile strikes, documented to have killed thousands of innocent people, are “necessary” and “right “.
13 Oct: Medact launches its report Drones: the physical and psychological implications of a global theatre of war that looks at the proliferation in the use of armed drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Many non-combatants are being killed and there is increasing evidence of the psychological damage to people living under the constant threat of drone attack, and to the drone operators themselves. Up to the end of September 2012, Britain had carried out over 300 drone strikes in Afghanistan.
David Cameron recently claimed British drones have killed 124 insurgents in Afghanistan but no one knows where these figures come from. There have been calls for an end to the secrecy of British drone policy and practice and a petition has been launched to 'lift the veil' on drone secrecy.
“There are serious ethical, moral and legal questions about the growing use of armed drones which need to be properly debated. However it is impossible to have such a debate while information is being kept secret... We call on the UK government to end the secrecy surrounding the use of British drones in Afghanistan and to release all necessary information for a proper public debate. This should include the reasons for individual drone strikes and the number of people killed.”
There will be a protest outside main gates of RAF Waddington on Friday 26 October against British involvement in drone warfare.
Leaflet produced by the Christian group Cymdeithas y Cymod, Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales, about drones.
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