On Wednesday, 12 June, the Drone Campaign Network will deliver a petition, signed by 10,000 people, calling on the UK government to end the secrecy surrounding the use of British drones in Afghanistan.
According to Ministry of Defence figures, the RAF has launched at least 365 drone strikes in Afghanistan since May 2008 (the month of the first attack). Yet its claim that only four civilians have been killed is literally unbelievable, eg an analysis of 350 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan put the civilian death toll there at at least 475.
What proportion of weapon firings by UK drones are pre-planned and how many are done on-the-fly? How does the UK confirm that its targets are not civilians? And does it ever launch strikes against people not directly participating in hostilities?
We simply don’t know, and attempts to use the Freedom of Information Act to get such information have been rebuffed on the spurious grounds that its release would be “likely to prejudice the defence of the British Island”.
As the RAF starts launching drone strikes from British soil (Report, 25 April), the British government must lift the veil of secrecy surrounding this deadly new form of remote-control warfare.
Joanne Baker Child Victims of War, Warren Bardsley Friends of Sabeel, West Midlands, Chris Cole Drone Wars UK, Andy CopeSPEAK Network, Rona Drennan Hastings Against War, Helen Drewery Quaker Peace & Social Witness, Maya Evans Voices for Creative Non-Violence UK, Ann Feltham Campaign Against Arms Trade,Pat Gaffney Pax Christi, Javier Garate War Resisters’ International,Jill Gough CND Cymru, Richard Johnson Leicester CND, Millius Palayiwa Fellowship of Reconciliation, England, Dr Stuart ParkinsonScientists for Global Responsibility, Lindis Percy CAAB, Dr Tomasz Pierscionek Medact, Milan Rai Peace News, Harry Rogers Bro Emlyn For Peace and Justice, Professor Noel Sharkey International Committee for Robot Arms Control, Uma Sims Cardiff Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Dave Webb CND