UK anti-drone activists arrested and charged after peaceful action

By staff writers
4 Jun 2013

Six peace activists, representing the group Disarm the Drones, have become the first in Britain to be arrested and charged for anti-drones related offences.

The nonviolent peace activists managed to breach security at Britain’s top security drone control base in Lincoln.

The six, who are Christian peace campaigners, planted a peace garden in RAF Waddington yesterday morning (3 June 2013).

They also displayed images of the victims of drone attacks and may have located the precise place where UK attacks are programmed.

The campaigners were detained for 24 hours overnight at Lincoln police station and held incommunicado for eight hours. Some of their homes have been raided by the police, with computers and other personal effects seized.

There was an attempt to charge the anti-drone activists with Conspiracy and Intent to Trespass and Cause Criminal Damage. Due to a failure of process, the charge of Criminal Damage was levied instead.

The group have been bound over to appear at an interim hearing in Lincoln Magistrates Court on 4 July 2013 -- which is also American Independence Day.

The action on Monday 3 June was timed to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the first UK Drone strike and the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.

The six campaigners, who brought news stories about civilians killed as a result of drone strikes to the base, are Chris Cole (former head of Fellowship of Reconciliation England), Fr Martin Newell (a Catholic priest who is involved with the Catholic Worker movement), the Rev Dr Keith Hebden (an Anglican priest, who is also an Ekklesia associate), Susan Clarkson (a Quaker pensioner), Henrietta Cullinan (a teacher) and Penny Walker (a grandmother).

The six all felt compelled to take peaceful protest action after British Armed Drones (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles) became operational from British soil on 25 April 2013, reports Independent Catholic News.

The UK Minsitry of Defence has since confirmed that British drones controlled from RAF Waddington have made their first 'kill' in Afghanistan.

Serious legal questions have been raised by the UN, Britain and the US about the legality and morality of drones, especially around their use in undeclared wars.

Chris Cole commented: “To build real peace and security in our world we need to breech the silence and secrecy that surrounds remote warfare and expose the impact of the drone wars on global peace and security as well as the lives of ordinary Afghans.”

Penny Walker added: “We created a gateway and peace garden at RAF Waddington in order to make a way for other people of peace to do their civic and moral duty and disarm these drones.”

The Rev Dr Keith Hebden explained: “After entering RAF Waddington we planted a vine and fig tree, echoing the words of the prophet Micah, ‘they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid.”

Speaking to Ekklesia after release from Court this afternoon, Fr Martin Newell said that the group were feeling "shaken" after the way they had been treated, but remained committed to exposing the unpalatable truth about Britain's involvement in murderous and illegal drone attacks.

It is understood that Chris Cole is still being held in detention in connection with an earlier warrant. He is being sent to Camberwell court tomorrow morning for non-payment of fines related to the arms fair DSEI 2011. Cole poured fake blood on Downing Street in protest against the military expo.

The six Disarm the Drones campaigners are barred from entering Lincolnshire, other than to appear in court.

* Drone Wars UK: http://dronewars.net/

[Ekk/3]

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