29 April 2013
600 march on RAF Waddington in drone protest

By P Whitelam
Lincolnshire Echo


Veteran peace protestor Helen John this afternoon told an estimated 600 anti-drone protestors she would like to organise a mass walk-in at RAF Waddington.

Ms John, a founder of the Greenham Common protests, spoke at the rally outside the base attended by campaigners who had marched from Lincoln.

600 anti-drone protestors have marched on RAF Waddington

The biggest UK anti-drones protest so far, organised by CND, the Drone Campaign Network, Stop the War and War on Want, was against the use of the unmanned military drones in Afghanistan.

The RAF began remotely piloted the drones from Waddington earlier this week.

Ms John, who set up a peace camp opposite the base, said: "What I would like to see is that base does not have one hour of rest.

"What they are doing is completely illegal and what I would like to do is organise a mass walk-in into the base so we would be arrested and have to explain ourselves in court.

"This base is a smokescreen for the work that's going on in killing children across the world.

"we should make sure that everyone who works there is trembling in their boots about going to work."

Earlier, marchers with bannners and drums took their protest along the A15 up Cross O'Cliff Hill, through Bracebridge Heath and on to the base.

They chanted: "David Cameron, CIA, how many kids have you killed today?" and "War's not a video game, every Afghan has a name."

Bracebridge Heath resident Karl Flood,40, a bank worker, said: "Having the roads closed has been a bit of a pain.

"I don't necessarily agree with what they are saying but I understand they have the right to protest and a march of this size is quite unusual."

Chris Nineham, vice chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, said: "We believe drone technology should be banned.

"I think there's something quite sinister about the idea that military personnel in Lincolnshire can press a button and take out and kill unnamed targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan or wherever.

"I think this protest had already achieved a lot.

"There's been a huge amount of media coverage and we are trying to start a debate."

Protestor Karen Williams, of Doddington Road, Lincoln, said: "I wanted to demonstrate solidarity with all the people that we are trying to bomb into submission and all the men and women in our armed forces being sent out as cannon fodder and are coming back and not being looked after properly."

Andy Benn, 48, of Monks Road, Lincoln, said: "I'm concerned about war in general and concerned about who this war serves.

"Who gains from this conflict and who loses?

"We cannot turn back the clock but using drones for surveillance that have the capability to deliver explosives into individual buildings seems like a slippery slope."

Reaper MQ-9 aircraft based in Kandahar are being piloted by 13 Squadron from Waddington via satellite.

Control from home soil is a UK first, doubling Britain’s Reaper intelligence and surveillance capability to 10 aircraft.

The MoD says it fully respects people’s right to protest peacefully and within the law.

“UK Reaper aircraft are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots who adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement which apply to traditionally manned RAF aircraft," a spokesman said.

“In all military operations everything possible is done to avoid civilian casualties and this is no less the case with Reaper operations.”


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