Christian students join week of protests against drones

On Friday, 23 students training as ministers in the Church of England and the Methodist Church gathered at the UAV Engines, Lynn Lane,Shenstone plant, in order to witness against the manufacture and use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and their military applications. Their vigil included acts of Christian worship and prayer, including a Litany of Resistance, hymns, Bible readings and periods of silent prayer, as well as protest chants directed towards the factory, which manufactures engines for use in drones used directly in miltary attacks and also in reconnaisance for targeting of military attacks.

During the vigil, there were reflections and prayers about the serious implications of how drones have been deployed by the military since the horrific events of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, where drones caused extensive deaths and injuries to helpless Palestinian civilians.

In 2012, the use of drones in military attacks is becoming increasingly prevalent, with remote operators acting as judge, jury and executioner from locations thousands of miles away from the areas where the drones are being deployed. This includes countries where no UN mandate exists for any foreign military activity and where sovereign air space is being regularly violated.

Despite claims of "precision targeting," many hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians have already lost their lives as a result of drone attacks, including the deaths of men, women and children engaged in peaceful and legitimate activities, including wedding parties.

For all of these reasons, as well as the terror caused by these "killers in the sky" to the wider civilian population, the Queen's Foundation believes that the use of attack drones falls outside of international humanitarian law and raises profound ethical and moral issues for the future of humankind. We therefore oppose their development and deployment in the military arena and urge the Directors and employees of the UAV Engines Plant to cease making engines for drones and to redirect their business into peaceful civilian applications, being mindful of the peaceful origins of the technology they are using in supplying modified engines for these terrible weapons of murder and destruction.

For all of these reasons, the Queen's Foundation gave official support to yesterday's student action, hence the presence of senior lecturers from the college, including Professor John Hull and Doctor Mukti Barton, at the vigil, in solidarity with the students.

The event was carefully planned to coincide and show additional solidarity with the progress of peace walkers engaged in the Drones Week of Action, which started out on Saturday, 6 October, from outside the UAV Engines, Shenstone plant and which by yesterday had reached Lincoln, visiting various sites associated with drones en route. The final stage of the peace walk concluded on Saturday with a demonstration at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.