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VIDEO: 600 march on RAF Waddington in drone protest

By PWhitelam_LE  |  Posted: April 29, 2013

600 anti-drone protestors have marched on RAF Waddington

Comments (15)

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.

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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  • Summerisle  |  April 29 2013, 1:42PM

    This is a great story, but the protesters commit the cardinal sin of traffic disruption on a saturday, so Lincoln folk will nevver be on there side. Heres what to do - Do away with the personality vacuum pilots, paint em red and lets have a new aerobatic team - all controlled by kids on xbox controllers! Bring on the Red Drones. "Smoke on...Go! Oops wrong button, Hellfire Missile coming your way, duck!" Would make air day interesting for once

    |   -1
  • Menshy  |  April 28 2013, 10:10PM

    Socialism & Lincoln_Fan - I agree with you, we absolutely must find a way to invest in employment for people and services to support them going about their lives. I'm not sure though that denying our armed forces the technology they need to protect our interests (dictated to us by politicians not military leaders) efficiently, whilst affording our service personnel optimum safety in doing their jobs is the correct trade off to fund it.

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  • Phil1W  |  April 28 2013, 8:56PM

    Lincoln_Fan, I have no objection to peaceful protest at all. What I object to is the pointless road closures and hold-ups that this lot caused on their way to protest at Waddington. Them stopping normal people from going about their business and enjoying their Saturday afternoon wouldn't have made the slightest difference to the people on Waddington camp. Therefore it was totally pointless and the protest should have been confined to the gates to Waddington camp!

    |   6
  • Lincoln_Fan  |  April 28 2013, 8:16PM

    Why do people give the thumbs down to 'If we want a world where people live peacefully together, we should be using the billions spent on war to create jobs, homes, public services and opportunities for ordinary folk rather than on weapons of destruction.'

    |   -3
  • Socialism  |  April 28 2013, 6:43PM

    The ruling class realise that working class people are practical people and start to oppose war when their family/friends come home in bodybags. So they want to make it easier to wage war without the backlash. I'm from Lincoln and I was on the march today. I was disgusted by the bombings in Boston, USA recently but this Government is making Lincoln a terror threat by operating drones from round here. If we want a world where people live peacefully together, we should be using the billions spent on war to create jobs, homes, public services and opportunities for ordinary folk rather than on weapons of destruction.

    |   -11
  • Lincoln_Fan  |  April 28 2013, 6:34PM

    Phil1W - You refer to the marchers as a mob. May I remind you that my father and thousands others fought in the Second World War to protect the right to protest. I assume from your tone that you object to peaceful demonstration and as such you may find your 'spiritual home' in North Korea.

    |   -5
  • Chas24  |  April 28 2013, 3:06PM

    I wonder if a drone could pick out Ms John walking OUT of Lincolnshire ?.

    |   6
  • Menshy  |  April 28 2013, 1:48PM

    As I spent time in the early 80's helping stop illegal access to Greenham Common, Lakenheath, Alconbury, Molesworth et al by Ms John and her vile ilk from the 'Peace Camps' I am biased and struggle to see her methods of protests as justifiable. Particularly when that included 2 consecutive Christmas Days spent watching their hedonistic drink and drugs binges punctuated by forays toward the fences to pelt us with urine, soiled nappies and used sanitary towels - great fun for them. For me her campaigns seem to be more focused on the act of protest rather than any great belief in the issue they purport to have. On this issue protesters and their supporters seem to focus on baby killing and innocent casualties but offer no evidence this is a fact. Can anyone name a single Afghan civilian without links to terrorism that has been killed by by an RAF remote operated aircraft? The drones are actually used primarily for surveillance (95% of their time) - just because they have a weapon system they can use doesn't mean that is all it does. They provide vital intelligence to troops on the ground, enabling them to see into blind spots and the ground ahead before they enter an area. If you doubt the need for these aircraft please visit the National Memorial Arboretum and look at the list of casualties in recent wars then consider how long it might have been had we not had this technological advantage enabling intelligence - a comparison of our percentage casualty figures against those of the Russian Army operating without this technology in the same area is useful in that. As for 'indiscriminate' these aircraft when they use their weapon systems are able to strike far more precisely than ever before - try comparing the civilian casualty figures in Iraq and Afghanistan with those of Europe in the Second World War to see just how much more precise. So Ms John and your comrades - you walked a couple of miles in protest yesterday; for many I suspect that is the most dangerous thing you've done or will do in a while. You're lucky that in Great Britain this behaviour is tolerated - had your march been in Helmand protesting for (say) rights for girls to have an education, I suspect that most of your 600 would have 'disappeared' by now. Equally, had you marched 3 miles in Nad Ali district of Helmand Province how many of you would have been wishing you had reliable information about what lay ahead and to your flanks - or how thankful would you be that the overwatch these drones provided had deterred or foiled attempts to place IEDs along your route? Enjoy your stay at Waddington Ms John - far from 'trembling in their boots about going to work' I expect your presence will amuse the RAF; nothing like a batty old biddy barking at the moon to lighten the day. Protester Karen Williams - do you even know how many 'bombs' we've used while 'battering other nations into submission'? Do you have any real idea what the troops are used for? Or are you just guessing it is cannon fodder? Do you know that the Forces aftercare system is failing? Or are you just guessing? I've spent almost 4 decades in the army and am pretty sure you're wrong in what you say. Protest all you like but at least have the decency to do so armed with facts and not just snippets in the media and the skewed bile spewed by Ms John and her supporters - this protest is about her, not about peace at all.

    |   25
  • Pete67  |  April 28 2013, 1:46PM

    - 'what I would like to do is organise a mass walk-in into the base' - - - She might change her mind when she has a couple of guns pointed at her (in case they go off) - 'This base is a smokescreen for the work that's going on in killing children across the world' - - - Isn't this what the Taliban do, and not only children but any innocent people whenever they get the chance? or has she forgot the young Pakistani girl who luckily survived being shot on the head?

    |   13
  • TheVisitor  |  April 28 2013, 12:36PM

    Considering we are supposedly pulling out of Afghanistan in 2014, why now sully our armed forces reputation in the remaining months by associating with this universally despised method of military practise and drag our image as a country and that of our behaviour down to the much globally loathed level of the USA with their Guantanamo Bay suspension of Habeous Corpus, duplictious dealings and murdering of thousands of innocent women & children in Pakistani villages whilst they hypocritically get all melodramatically outraged over a relatively minor bomb attack in Boston. (A city that mostly funded the IRA when we were bombed by them throughout the 70's & 80's.) Whether these drones are used for attack or merely survelliance, they will now, in mind of most muslims countries around the world, further bundle us together with the USA as users of drones and incur much more anger and hatred therein.

    |   -16