Drones or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, are a recent development of military technology. First used in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, they have become much
more sophisticated and are used by both British and American forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Yemen and other countries. They became notorious during the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, when drones were in the air above the city, people not knowing when there would be a sudden strike.
There are two basic types of drones. First, drones are used for surveillance, where they can stay in the air for many days, and secondly, they are used for attack on targeted individuals. Drones may be as small as a bird or as large as a small aeroplane. The drones are launched on the battlefield, but then their flight and action is controlled from a US air base near Los Vegas in Nevada.
Drones are used to carry out extra-judicial killings, and are quite clearly illegal in terms of the rules of warfare. They make war easier, since there is no risk to the personnel, who sit in comfortable chairs thousands of miles away. Their operations are secret, since governments say that to release details of their operations would be to aid terrorists. The truth is that they are a terrible form of computer game, played for
There is a factory in the West Midlands that makes the engines for drones. It is the UAV engine factory in the village of Shenstone near Lichfield. The factory is owned by an Israeli armaments company and supplies both the Israeli and the UK governments.
On Friday 11 May, Marilyn and I, together with Margaret Healey Pollett and Mike Cross, all members of All Saints Church and representing the Social Justice Action Group of the church, took part in a vigil to protest against these horrible weapons. We were part of a crowd of nearly fifty including three children. People had come from Redditch, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Leicester, Oxford and other places, and included Christians and Muslims.
For a whole hour we stood outside the factory, mostly in silence, offering prayers to the God of peace and justice. We understand that the people working in the factory need the work, but we believe that the drone is a form of distorted military science, and skilful people can find other work which builds up humanity instead of destroying it.
After the vigil we moved to the nearby Methodist Church for a discussion, and many of us stayed for a public meeting in the evening, addressed by the well-known peace activist, Christopher Cole.
Drones will proliferate unless people like you and me are prepared to say “Not in my name”. There will be more vigils against the drones, and we hope that the fifty will grow to be five hundred. Will you be one of them?
John M Hull
16th May 2012
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