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Bishop Gregory joins drones protest

19 October 2012

by a staff reporter


Targeting drones: the Rt Revd Clive Gregory (right), at a drones peace protest on 6 October

Targeting drones: the Rt Revd Clive Gregory (right), at a drones peace protest on 6 October

THE Bishop of Wolverhampton, the Rt Revd Clive Gregory, joined protesters who were complaining about the use of drones in modern warfare. They "reduce death to the level of a computer game", he said.

Drones, properly known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are used to attack specific targets without risk to the operators. But campaigners question the precision of drones, whose use, they say, has led to an increase in civilian deaths.

Bishop Gregory joined protesters outside the UAV factory in Shenstone, Staffordshire, which is owned by the Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems, which builds engines for drones. "Drones are being used not just in legally recognised conflicts," he said, "but to attack and kill suspected terrorists in other places. Pakistan is one such place. Somalia, Yemen, and Palestine are others.

"'Targeted Killing' seems to have seeped into military action without proper debate, and the evidence from the ground suggests that many innocent lives are being lost. I am greatly concerned about the secrecy surrounding the use and impact of drones, and the detachment of this form of warfare, where remote robots controlled from another continent appear to reduce death to the level of a computer game."

The protest began a week-long march past other armaments factories to RAF Waddington in Lincoln, from where a drone known as the "Armed Reaper", to be used in Afghanistan, is soon to be controlled.

This week, the Methodist, United Reform, and Baptist Churches in the UK have called on the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, to distance the UK from the US government's use of drone strikes against people suspected of involvement in terrorism.

In Pakistan, thousands of people, joined by US activists, have protested this week against US drone strikes. The demonstrators, headed by the former cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, say that the strikes violate Pakistani sovereignty and kill civilians.

Japanese protest. The Bishop of Chubu, in the Anglican Communion in Japan, the Rt Revd Peter Ichiro Shibusawa, has written to the Prime Minister of Japan to oppose the introduction of US Osprey aircraft at a US-run military base on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa.

Residents have opposed the deployment of the planes, citing safety fears, after crashes in Morocco.

Bishop Shibusawa said: "This is nothing but an example of 'Conclusion first, debate afterwards'. The government is not listening to the voice of its people."

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