Shenstone: Act of Witness against drones

As part of the International Week of Action Against Drones, members of Pax Christi and Friends of Sabeel UK joined with staff and students from Queen’s Theological College, Birmingham, and members of Birmingham churches in an ‘Act of Witness’ outside UAV Engines, the Elbit Factory at Shenstone, near Lichfield. The Israeli owned factory manufactures the engines for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) which are used for military purposes. The group regularly meet there to protest against the use of these military drones to kill innocent people. They were also used in Israel’s recent war on Gaza, where the loss of life and devastation have shocked many throughout the world.

Introducing the vigil David Babbington reminded us that what happens in this factory has an impact on others who live thousands of miles away. He said ‘ Drones can be very useful for searching areas, taking pictures and safeguarding people but when they become judge, jury and executioner outside of the normal rules of combat, they cannot be right. Innocent people have been presumed guilty and killed because they 'happened to be in the area'. We can justify anything we want but we can't justify flying drones 24 hours a day leaving people in constant fear of whether they may or may not be a target. We need an end to barbaric forms of military conflict and using 'protecting our soldiers' as a reason. We need to stand up for the hundreds of innocent people who have been killed by a ‘pilot’, sitting thousands of miles away from the conflict, using a computer game joystick. War is not a game.

Today we support those with the gifts to create engines and we want new and creative avenues of employment for them. We pray for protection for the soldiers who go to war. We pray for all who feel they have to fight. We pray for the innocents caught up in war-fields. We pray that there will be an end to the use of military drones. We pray for an end to ALL wars. We pray for peace.

Christian, Jewish and Muslim readings and prayers were used during the vigil and there were extensive times of silence for us to reflect on all those killed, and those affected, by the violent use of drones in conflict zones and for us to commit ourselves to resisting the arms trade and all warfare and to working for peace.

During the vigil, the fuselage from an A10 Warthog USAF war plane, typical of those used in the invasion and firing of air-to-ground missiles in Iraq, was beaten with hammers by participants as a symbol of the ‘beating of swords into ploughshares’ and a protest at the use of killing machines.

For a personal story about a family living under the continual threat of drones see:

Tags: E098Act of Witness', Birmingham, Elbit Factory, Friends of Sabeel UK, International Week of Action Against Drones, Lichfield., outside UAV Engines, Pax Christi, Queen's Theological College, Shenstone

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