Local residents gathered on Hastings beach to join in solidarity with those around the world living under threat from armed drones, for the Fly Kites Not Drones event on Sunday, March 17.
Sunshine and sea breezes provided ideal conditions for the event which was organised by local peace group Hastings Against War.
Member of the group, John Enefer says Fly Kites Not Drones was launched in 2014 by Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers based in Kabul. “They had become aware of children being afraid to fly kites - a much-loved pastime in their country,” he said.
“This is because of the risk of being struck by armed drones; unmanned vehicles, which can fly so high as to be invisible to the naked eye.
“Armed drones are operated remotely, at times thousands of miles from the conflict zone.
“They have been used in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Gaza and elsewhere.
“The use of armed drones has been blamed for large numbers of civilian deaths. At least 48 Palestinian civilians were killed as a result of drones operated by the Israeli military during one 23-day period, according to research by Amnesty International.
“Apart from the risk to civilians, campaigners say armed drones make war more likely by making it easier for governments to opt for war knowing there’s no risk of their reputations being damaged by fatalities on their own side.
“Critics of armed drones also speak of this technology introducing a ‘Playstation mentality’ in the waging of war, with crews glued to video screens and firing missiles a world away from the battle zone.
“Among the critics of armed drones are people who have worked on drones programmes, who contradict official military claims that pursuing war by this means is effective and humane.
“In the UK armed drones have been operated from RAF Waddington, south of Lincoln, since 2013.”
Following last Sunday’s event, Councillor Maya Evans, who recently returned from a visit to meet Afghan Peace Volunteers, said: “The global proliferation of military drones is alarming. There are now twelve countries which own them, and still international law is extremely weak in governing them.
“There desperately needs to be tighter legislation around their use and tighter guidance around proportionality of civilians killed in order to hit a named target.
“As it currently stands, huge numbers of civilians can be killed before a drone finds the person named on a ‘hit list’. This is still considered legal under international law, however it’s very far from humane or fair.”
Hastings Against War meets at the Quaker Meeting House, South Terrace, on the first Tuesday of every month at 7pm.