25 August 2011 — Morning Star
Peace campaigners vowed today to oppose RAF plans to operate deadly unmanned Reaper drones from a Lincolnshire airbase. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it intends to station a ‘Reaper squadron’ at RAF Waddington from next year.
Unmanned drones have been used extensively by the US and Britain in Afghanistan where they have been implicated in a number of civilian deaths.
Anti-arms campaigners expressed outrage at plans to pilot such weapons remotely from Britain – and to sell them at the country’s biggest arms fair, the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), next month.
Veteran campaigner Helen John and Yorkshire CND have called for a new ‘peace camp’ at RAF Waddington to oppose the plans.
Ms Johns compared the Reapers to the unmanned rockets used by nazi Germany during World War II.
‘Having lived through the second world war I witnessed the destruction of my grandmother’s house, cut in two by a V-2 rocket as we then called them,’ she said.
‘I feel deeply ashamed that we in the 21st century are bringing back nazi technology to blight the future.
‘Killing and maiming others for oil, while our ‘pilots’ sit in comfort and safety at computer consoles thousands of miles away. Murder by remote control. Whatever next?’
Yorkshire CND development worker Dominic Lindsay slammed the MoD’s ‘latest toy’ which made ‘killing little more than a game.
‘The drones desensitise the value of human life as pilots choose who to kill from a video screen thousands of miles from the conflict. Operating in remote areas, their victims are often unknown and civilian casualties unaccounted for.
‘Worryingly both Britain and the US and looking into fully automated drones – bringing death from the skies without the recourse to any human decision making.’
An MoD spokesman defended Britain’s use of the deadly drones.
‘Reaper does not employ weapons unless it is commanded to do so by the flight crew,’ he said.
‘Rules of engagement for Reaper weapon releases are no different to those used by manned combat aircraft. The weapons are all precision-guided and every effort is made to ensure civilian casualties are minimised.’
But Fellowship of Reconciliation education and campaigns officer Amy Hailwood said: ‘Drones are simply not the precision super-weapons they are portrayed as by those who stand to make millions from their sale.
‘The government is investing intellectually and financially in this myth and we feel there needs to be a much higher level of public and parliamentary scrutiny of this remote-killing technology before further investment is made.’
The Reapers will be among hundreds of weapons showcased by arms firms at the DSEI this year, which will be held in London’s Docklands.