Blue skies are now a fearful sight for many children who live under weaponised drones, as clear bright days are ideal for drones to see people on the ground, from thousands of feet ahead.
Fly Kites Not Drones started in Afghanistan with the peace youth group the Afghan Peace Volunteers, they would say that the children in their villages are now too afraid to fly kites because of the threat of being struck by missiles from weaponised drones. We heard the story of Aymel who lost his father 8 years ago during a ‘signature strike’ – a party of young men were gathered in an apple orchard on the edge of their village in Wardak, Afghanistan. It was dusk as a drone was spotted by a nearby farmer, flashing red lights in the sky, then without warning, a missile, an explosion, six beautiful lives destroyed. None of the young men were part of the Taliban, but because of their ethnicity, age, gender, clothes and behaviour (their ’signature’), they were deemed ‘terrorists’ and an “imminent threat” to the security of the United States, a country thousands of miles away.
Creating Fear & Hate:
Countries such as the US and UK, who fly weaponised drones have become deeply disliked by other nations . Like a plague in the skies, killer robots are now often known to assassinate innocent people, a Pakistani grandmother in a field, Afghan village elders gathered to discuss peace, an aid convoy in Syria, by thousands, people just in the wrong place at the wrong time. And the missiles are not very accurate. The kill area of a hellfire missile is fifty feet, its established procedure for drone operations is to knowingly forfeit the lives of nearby civilians in order to assassinate someone on a ‘kill list’.
Assassination and Secrecy:
Already the US and the UK have used their weaponised drones to assassinate their own citizens, in the case of 21 year old Reyaad Khan (7), a UK citizen executed in Syria by a UK drone on 21 August 2015, who was suspected of a retrospective crime which never took place. Such extra judicial killings are strongly thought to be illegal but currently international laws and regulations do not exist, drones are out of the box with very few guidelines. They are a back door into war, a secret and discreet way in which countries can drop bombs on other nations without declaring war . Government secrecy means information about drone strikes are not made public, we have very little access to knowing what our elected governments are carrying out in our name.
Proliferation & Increase in War:
The proliferation of drones has exceeded rapidly in just the 15 years of their armed capability. They are now used in Afghanistan, Algeria, Gaza, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan and Yemen, while China has now worked out how to weaponise a drone and are thought to have sold their CH-3 drone to various nations including Nigeria. They are the first choice of weapon for politicians, reducing the threshold of going to war. UK weaponised drones were secretly deployed to Syria months before Cameron won the Parliamentary vote to join military action in Syria . The US has carried out 424 drone strikes over Pakistan since 2004, killing 4,000+ (207 were children), without those countries being in a declared armed conflict.
Drones Coming Home:
Drones are now extensively used for civil security within States. The US Department of Homeland Security awarded Israeli company Elbit Systems $87 million to produce and install surveillance systems on the US-Mexico border which includes spying drones. In the UK police have started to use spying drones around some airports . Domestic surveillance drones are currently at the tipping point of becoming a ‘normal’ or an acceptable spying tool State security services for use on its own citizens. Now is definitely the time to shape how much the State accelerates that program by campaigning. Meanwhile politicians academics and think tanks are recognising the impact of ‘blowback’ from the use of drones, which are not only a potent recruiting tool for terrorist organisations, but also the radicalisation of individuals at home.
The military are currently finding it difficult to recruit drone pilots , with levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder abnormally high. Many pilots have reported becoming detached from reality, stressed and fatigued by remote controlled ‘play station’ combat. Former drone pilot Brandon Bryant said: “There were some real honest-to-god psychos in that [drone] program who wanted nothing more than to kill people on the ground”. Politicians argue that drones save the risks for ‘boots on the ground’, however current indications suggests that mental health will be the main casualty of combat for drone operators.