Drone Research Announcement

by Marjorie Van Cleef, DISARM!/End Wars

Friends in WILPF and other organizations, we invite you and your colleagues to consider participating in a campaign to challenge US development and use of “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” more commonly known as drones, for military and surveillance purposes.

Network to Oppose Drone Surveillance and Warfare: Founded Dec. 15, 2012 in New York City by representatives of various US peace groups. “April Days of Action” will focus on three key components of US drone work: Drone Manufacturers, Drone Bases in the US, and Drone Research.

Drone Research facilities within the United States

Actions and events are scheduled to take place April 16-18, 2013

Rationale: Given the fact that drones are now the primary weapons of warfare used by the US, and for surveillance both domestic and abroad, the research and development of this warfare is growing rapidly at academic institutions, in our towns and neighborhoods. Drones are the perfect instrument for endless war that kills civilians, even as they target “militants” in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan.

Academic institutions often receive large grants from the US Dept. of Defense, enabling them to build labs within schools of engineering, for instance. We are well aware that without this research in robotics, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), and the accompanying accessories, these drone warfare projects would probably not take place. So there is an interdependent relationship between the universities and the US government and or its Department of Defense and CIA. (CIA drones are used in countries with which the U.S. is not “at war”, ie Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Mali, and others.)

While universities tend to publicize some information on their respective websites regarding the drone work, it is most often said to be for non-military purposes. And there are students working in the labs who are convinced that all the research is for humanitarian purposes, however history has told us that non-military can quickly and easily become military. Moreover research has shown drones make mistakes on recognizing their targets.

We are therefore asking organizations and individuals, nationwide, to explore any drone research that might be going on at their local university. We are calling for local actions between April 16 and 18, 2013. (Suggested actions are listed below.) Our limited research into University and Academic UAV programs indicates that a research center is operating in your area: we are sending in an attachment the list of programs that we have found thus far.

Before those dates in April we will need to know what information you have acquired about the research and what actions and events your group is planning.This will be shared among groups in the Network. You can send this information to us at notodrone@gmail.com.

We will have a press committee that will receive your press release and any articles you are able to publish before or after the event.

This project will complement other outreach, education and action projects that will be launched in April, focusing on drone bases, April 27–28 and drone manufacturers, April 4–6.

Suggested actions:

  1. Learn what research (here are some research tips) is being done by searching on a university website. Look especially at the Engineering Dept. We are enclosing an attachment with a national list of research facilities.
  2. Organize a forum, preferably on campus, with speakers and discussion. Be sure to publicize in campus newspapers, and possibly include a professor as one of the speakers. Also include local activists.
  3. Plan a small meeting with the appropriate persons in the department working on drone research, both professors and students.
  4. Hold vigils and leaflet on or close to the campus, as well as in town.
  5. Let us know if you need further tools for your research.

Thanks in advance for your reply. We recommend that you write to notodrone@gmail.com or call one of us with contact information listed below.

For more information about nationwide actions and to post your own planned actions for April please email notodrone@gmail.com.


With all good wishes,

Marge Van Cleef, WILPF, Phila. mvc@igc.org, 267-763-1644

Leila Zand, For USA, lzand@forusa.org 518-831-9005

Kathy Kelly co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, kathy@vcnv.org 773-878-3815

Image credit: An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

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