The 'Waddington Six', who entered an RAF base earlier this year in protest at the piloting of British-armed drones on British soil, have rejected what they call the Ministry of Defence (MoD) “charm offensive” invitation to the press to visit the site.
In a prepared statement they call on the MoD and the UK government to offer “genuine transparency” not just “smoke and mirrors” on the issue.
Responding to RAF Waddington’s Open Day for media, Susan Clarkson, a member of the Waddington Six and Voices for Creative Nonviolence UK, who has seen first-hand the consequences of Drone attacks, said: “'We met a young man, Raz Mohammed, who told us of a drone attack on his village which killed his brother in law and four friends.
"He said, 'a beautiful life was buried and the sound of crying and sorrow arose from peaceful homes'. He told us that drones instil fear in the lives of ordinary Afghans and that people's mental health is affected.”
Chris Cole from Drone Wars UK is a leading expert on Drone warfare who has regularly been called on to brief parliamentary committees. He responded: “If the MoD want to ‘dispel the myths’ about the armed drones they need to be much more transparent about how these systems are being used on a day-to-day basis so we can begin to address the many legal and ethical questions raised by their use.
"Basic questions that need to be answered include how many people have been killed in British drone strikes? Where are these strikes taking place? And how accurate are weapons launched from British drones?”
The Rev Dr Keith Hebden, a parish priest in Nottinghamshire and an associate of the Christian think-tank Ekklesia, added: “This is a cynical response to our genuine call for greater accountability from the military to the public. We don’t want smoke and mirrors we want answers to important questions”.
The Waddington Six were arrested inside the RAF base on 3 June 2013 for entering the site, planting a “peace garden” and searching for Squadron XIII who pilot the drones from there.
In a historic court case on 7 October, Judge Stobbart found them guilty with “a very heavy heart” and called them “dutiful people with a legitimate target”.
Monthly vigils outside the base are planned for 2014 on the 21st of every month, from 1-3pm.
* Full statement on UK and drones from the Waddington Six: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/19717