In the last three years, SPEAK and FoR(E), alongside many other charities and pressure groups, have campaigned for an end to the use of armed drones in modern warfare. We believe that the reduction of human beings to dots on a screen hundreds of miles away from where they live, killed remotely with a total detachment from the act concerned, is a travesty and incompatible with God’s Word. People aren’t just thermo-sensitive smudges but individuals who have innate value and worth. We also believe that drones kill indiscriminately, picking off more civilians than militants, that they are unreliable and inefficient despite the claims by leading military and political personnel to the contrary.
As activists, we can know the arguments for our chosen cause off by heart, upside down and inside out, but persevere for years and see no change in public opinion or policy. It’s an occupational hazard. But, maybe, just maybe, there’s an inkling of a change in the air for drones campaigners. In recent months, politicians in the UK have agreed to review the use of armed drones by British forces and it looks like they should hear evidence from the activist’s side of the fence. Have we perhaps experienced some kind of success?
We have certainly experienced something positive. We’ve lobbied and pushed for an enquiry and our efforts have been rewarded. We asked for the conversation and the answer has come back as an unequivocal yes. We are being heard. But we can’t, and mustn’t, rest on our laurels. It would be too easy to pop the champagne corks, lay back and toast what is a genuine success. But when we do that, that is when the enquiry gets pushed back, our side of the story isn’t heard, reports don’t get published and real change doesn’t happen. Because the enquiry is just a measure of intention to change, not the change itself, which we so desperately want on behalf of our brothers and sisters living in fear, and we must not be satisfied purely with intention, we must demand action.
Now is the best time to encourage those parliamentarians in the review group to objectively review the evidence against the use of drones, to advocate publicly for the victims of drones attacks and to keep the review we’ve fought for in the public eye. We have a great success to build on, and we need to make all our efforts count. We need to celebrate our success, publically, so that people are reminded why we’re celebrating.
The message is this; we have succeeded but we must press on. We have made a vital step in the right direction but we must continue to towards the Promised Land rather than rest outside it in what is, in truth, simply a cooler part of the desert.
Come meet Jessica and others working for peace in the midst of the global arms trade at Soundcheck 2013:Sea Change, February 22-24th.