Participants in a demonstration against the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Stuttgart, Germany, announced a new European anti-drone initiative and presented a statement from civil rights advocates, peace activists and parliamentarians of six European countries, Pakistan, and the USA: "Ban Weaponized Drones!"
AFRICOM is where US secret service and military personnel, working out of Stuttgart, select African targets of US drone strikes. Among those demonstrating against AFRICOM today were Heike Haensel and Annette Groth, both members of the German Bundestag in the Left party, and the well-known US peace activist and drone expert, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK.
During a visit to Berlin, Benjamin met with members and staff of the Social Democratic (SPD), Green, and Left (DIE LINKE) parliamentary groups in the German Bundestag. However, the Christian Democratic (CDU/CSU) parliamentary group and Chancellor Merkel's government refused to grant Benjamin an appointment.
"It is urgent that the international community bring these new weapons systems under control and ultimately ban them," said Benjamin. "On the very day that I met with European peace activists in Berlin, at least seventeen people at a wedding celebration in Yemen were killed by a US drone strike. The German government is an accomplice to this and other US drone murders. The Satellite Relay Station at the US base in Ramstein, Germany, plays an essential role in every US drone strike in the Middle East and Africa. Why do the German people continue to allow their government to be complicit in such crimes?" she asked.
The statement "Ban Weaponized Drones!" was one result of an intensive working meeting of peace activists, civil rights advocates and parliamentarians from several different countries and political parties who came to Berlin to meet with Ms. Benjamin last week. A similar statement has been circulated since last spring by the German Drone Campaign and has won significant support.
The participants in the working meeting in Berlin criticized the European Council for considering approval of a European drone development project that does not explicitly rule out military uses for European drones. The European Council will meet in Brussels on December 19th and 20th to decide upon European defense matters, including the drone proposal.
However, the participants in the working meeting said they very much welcomed the current German public discussion about drones that has, at least for the moment, effectively called into question whether the German government will be able to go ahead with its plan to acquire armed drones for the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces). The debate in Germany represents a first -- and quite promising -- success, they said, for the campaign to stop the proliferation of weaponized drones in Europe. Italy, France, and the Netherlands are reportedly considering acquisition of weaponized drones in the near future, but public and parliamentary resistance could possibly put a halt to these plans.
A Global Day of Action against weaponized drones and targeted killing is scheduled for October 4 of next year. An international drone conference is also planned for 2014.
Statement by the European Section Global Anti-Drone Network
Berlin, December 12, 2013
Ban Weaponized Drones!
We oppose the use of drone technology for killing, surveillance and repression.
We oppose weaponized and surveillance drones because their deployment lowers the threshold to armed aggression, is used for "targeted" killing of people within and outside warzones – without indictment, trial and conviction, terrorizes the population of the targeted territories, fuels hatred, thereby increasing the cycle of violence, leads to the development of autonomous killer robots, thereby making even more horrifying wars likely, initiates a new round in the arms race.
We demand that all governments cease the production and acquisition of armed drones, as well as their research and development, and work towards a worldwide ban of these weapons.
Statement approved as of December 12, 2013 by:
Althaler, Birgit - Palestine Solidarity Basel, Switzerland
Androvandi, Constanza - International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany/Italy
Aune, Björn - Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) Campaign Berlin, Germany
Benjamin, Medea - Code Pink (Co-Founder), USA
Björkmann, Rosie - Women for Peace, Sweden
Bosma, Geart - Vredes Informatie Centrum (Staff) & War Resisters Intl. (WRI), Netherlands
Braun, Reiner - IALANA (Executive Director) & International Peace Bureau (Co-President), Germany
Cole, Chris - Drone Wars UK (Founder) & Drone Campaign Network (Convener), United Kingdom
Dubrow, Niels - Staff Assistant to Dr. Ute Finckh-Krämer, Member of Bundestag (SPD), Germany
Finckh-Krämer, Ute - Member of Bundestag (MdB), Social Democratic Party (SPD)
Fuchs, Barbara - Attac & DIE LINKE (Left Party) & Deutscher Friedensrat (German Peace Council), Germany
Fuchs-Kittowski, Klaus - Forum of Computer Scientists for Peace and Social Responsibility (FIfF), Germany
Ghannam, Doris - Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment (BDS) Campaign Berlin, Germany
Hammerschmidt, Rainer - Aktion Freiheit statt Angst e.V. (Action Freedom instead of Fear), Berlin, Germany
Hunko, Andrej - Member of Bundestag (MdB) & of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, DIE LINKE (the Left)
Javaid, Tariq - Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Germany
Kachel, Thomas - Parliamentary Advisor on Peace and Security Issues, DIE LINKE (the Left) in the Bundestag, Germany
Käss, Helmut - Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
Kalkman, Kees - Journalist & Researcher, VD AMOK, Netherlands
Khan, Ali - Mongol Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Germany
Khan, Muhammad Farooq - Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Germany
Krutsch, Elfriede - Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
Lammerent, Hans Vredesactie - Peace Movement (former Chair), Belgium
Martensson, Ingela - Women for Peace & former Member of the parliament (Liberal Party), Sweden
Müller-Reiss, Brunhild - Drone Campaign & Peace Office Hannover & War Resisters Intl. (DFG-VK in WRI), Germany
Nineham, Chris - Stop the War Coalition (StWC - Vice Chair), United Kingdom
Norberg, Agneta - Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space & Women for Peace, Sweden
Paulini, Peter - Stiftung Friedensbildung (Foundation for Peace Education), Germany
Pflüger, Tobias - Drone Campaign & Info. Agency on Militarization (IMI, Founder) & former MEP (DIE LINKE), Germany
Rassbach, Elsa - Code Pink & Drone Campaign & War Resisters Intl. (DFG-VK in WRI, Board), Germany/USA
Reimers, Roland - Initiative of Natural Scientists for Peace and Future Sustainability, Germany
Schoeppe, Florian - Staff Assistant to Katja Keul, Member of the Bundestag, Green parliamentary group, Germany
Steffen, Jens-Peter - Intl. Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW, Staff Adviser on Peace Issues), Germany
Stryk, Lydia - Playwright, Germany/USA
Wijnberg, J.M.T. (Miek) - Burgerrechtenvereniging Vrijbit (President), Netherlands
Wimmersperg, Laura - Drone Campaign & Peace Coordination Berlin (Speaker), Germany
Wirl, Lucas - ICC No to NATO (Co-Chair) & Intl. Network Engineers, Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES), Germany
(Approvals verified as of December 28, 2013)