Anti-drone activists blocked traffic at the Main Gate into Beale Air Force Base for over 30 minutes on February 28 during early morning commute hour.
Flora Rogers, Mike Rufo, Pamela Osgood and Toby Blomé were later arrested for trespassing as they entered the base. One was trying to deliver a group letter to the base commander, expressing opposition to the unlawful drone assassination program (see letter below).
During the blockade, the activists stood across the gate entrance holding life-sized cardboard replicas of the 15 drone victims killed during a September 27, 2016 U.S. drone strike in eastern Afghanistan. As traffic backed up behind the blockade, activists read the name, age and occupation of each of the 15 Afghan civilian men who were killed that night while sleeping in their beds in Achin district, Afghanistan. The men had been gathered to welcome a friend/relative returning from his hajj, or sacred pilgrimage to Mecca. Thirteen others were injured in the drone attack. According to a human rights organization based in Afghanistan, the drone deaths included a 26-year-old teacher, a 70-year-old village elder, a 30-year-old principal, a 17-year-old youth and laborers and farmers of varying ages. Activists were trying to humanize the lives of the victims that are so often kept anonymous by the media. Many of the activists gave heartfelt personal statements to the base personnel that witnessed the action.
The prior afternoon, two days before Ash Wednesday, Sharon Delgado and Shirley Osgood were arrested while sprinkling ashes on the base to symbolize the ashes of the innocent people in faraway lands incinerated by remotely controlled drones. (see Sharon’s reflection on the action below)
All those arrested on February 27 and 28 were cited and released the same day.
Northern California activists, including members of CODEPINK and Veterans for Peace, gather at Beale Air Force Base monthly to oppose the U.S. drone killing and the state of perpetual wars perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy. Beale controls the Global Hawk surveillance drone which is integral to the secretive and unlawful targeted killing program.
by Sharon Delgado
Today (February 27) I was arrested for peace with my dear friend Shirley Osgood at Beale Air Force Base, supported by several Veterans for Peace and other peacemakers. Beale is home of Global Hawk surveillance drones, which identify targets in countries around the world for U.S. killer drones.
Shirley and I walked through the main gate to sprinkle ashes on the base in an act of resistance to our government’s endless wars. The ashes symbolize the innocent people incinerated by our government in faraway lands by drones via remote control. I think especially of the children.
As movements of resistance multiply around the country and around the world, it’s important to include a critique of the permanent war economy and a call to international cooperation and peace. The Trump Administration’s approach to foreign and military policy is exemplified by attempts to ban Muslims and other immigrants, alienation of allies, threats to revive torture, promises to raise military spending (again), and the recent Navy Seals raid in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of at least fourteen civilians, including nine children. The stories told by witnesses of the raid are horrendous.
At Beale today we commemorated the deaths of these people. Demonstrators will be there again tomorrow. But we are also mourning the deaths of the fifteen Afghan civilians who were killed by a U.S. drone strike while sleeping in their beds last September. While Barak Obama was president, he authorized drone strikes in seven countries. U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children. These extrajudicial killings ignite hate, fuel terror, and perpetuate the cycle of violence.
How has this nightmare come to be reality? As divided as Congress appears, the Washington Consensus still holds in Deep State matters of finance and national security. The “experts” that guide the Ship of State in these areas have been there for decades, even as presidents come and go. The power of the “imperial presidency” has grown under both Republican and Democratic administrations, while the reach and secrecy of the national security/surveillance state has grown, consuming an ever-greater share of the economy.
Now we have a right-wing ideologue in the office of the presidency who is, evidently, uneducated in matters of State, irrational, and unpredictable. Obama’s drone “kill list” is now in the hands of Donald Trump, as is the authority to use the new generation of “useable” nuclear weapons approved by Obama. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reports that the hands of the Doomsday Clock have now been moved to two and a half minutes to midnight.
I am so happy to see people rising up, finally! In times of tyranny, the only way to maintain our humanity is to resist. But the answer is not a matter of simply getting Democrats back into power. If we continue to accept the unacceptable actions of our government, deep systemic change will be impossible.
I chose to sprinkle ashes on Beale Air Force Base because the day after tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a day for repentance and reflection on our mortality. I chose to kneel and pray for mercy for the people my government is targeting, and to plead for the transformation of the hearts and minds of people in my country who accept and perpetuate these atrocities. War is not the answer. God help us all.
Dear Col. Broadwell and Beale Air Force Base Personnel, February, 2017
We come to Beale monthly to express our opposition to the U.S. drone targeted killing program and the state of perpetual warfare that the U.S. is executing globally. As many of you know, the Global Hawk surveillance drone plays a key role in the remote killing program, by doing surveillance over vast areas of the globe and assisting in tracking and identifying potential “targets/suspects.” Drone operators and analysts stationed at Beale are directly involved in drone attacks and see the carnage on the screen on a daily basis. This takes a serious toll on their lives as well, leading to high rates of PTSD, and even suicide.
The state of perpetual wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere is a huge global tragedy causing great grief to millions of lives in these countries in terms of displacement, death, serious injury, loss of family wage earners, destabilization of governments, a huge global refugee crisis and much more. The single recent U.S. military encroachment in Mosul, Iraq is reported to be causing the displacement of over 450,000 lives. How can anyone call these policies, that cause such vast suffering, successful or humane?
There are three recent incidences that we want to call your attention to:
September 27, 2016, U.S. Drone Strike on Civilian Gathering: the “untold story”
(Achin District, Eastern Afghanistan) Dozens of men were gathered to honor a friend/relative who had returned from his hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, a muslim’s most sacred lifetime achievement. 15 men were killed, and 13 injured. The drone strike hit as they were sleeping in their beds. According to independent sources, all of the men were civilians. The U.N. called for a thorough investigation, but to this day we know of no investigation being conducted. Few Americans even know of this incident. We have managed to get hold of some simple info of these men, whose lives were stolen so abruptly, to honor and memorialize them. They had every right, as all humans do, to go to sleep at night and awaken in one piece, without threat from aggressive forces. What message is the U.S. sending to Afghans by so carelessly taking their lives? At the end of this letter you will find the list of names and info of those killed. Please take the time to look at it, and ask yourself: Why are we so easily killing these people?
January 26, 2017, Navy Seals Raid in Yemen: the “well publicized story”
A seriously failed U.S. Navy Seals night raid in a small Yemen village led to disastrous results: 29 civilians killed, including 6 women and at least 10 children. One was a young baby and another an 8 yr. old girl. Many others were injured. 4 Navy Seals members were also injured and one 36 yr. old Navy Seals, Ryan Owens, was killed. Ryan was the father of 3 small children. A $75 million Osprey aircraft crashed. Ryan Owens father, who is a veteran himself, said, “Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation. I want an investigation. The government owes my son an investigation.” Sadly, atrocities committed during wartime are rarely investigated.
We mourn the senseless and tragic loss of these lives. There was no “imminent threat.” There was no battlefield, except what the U.S. determined should be made into one. Just a small Yemeni village. The same little village that endured another U.S. military atrocity on December 12, 2013. On that grave day the U.S. decided to fire drone hellfire missiles on a wedding convoy.
The groom, 2 of his children and 12 others were killed. The strike was supposedly targeting al-Qaida militants, but was later called “a mistake” by officials. How many military atrocities must one little village in Yemen endure? How would you feel if your own town was attacked by a foreign nation repeatedly over several years, killing your women and children? Where will this lead? How many schools, homes, health clinics, or college tuitions could be paid for with the $75 million it cost to build one U.S. Osprey? One Global Hawk costs over $200 million. How could we better spend our resources?
DRONE KILLING: Obama’s legacy and Trump’s Inheritance:
In the first few days of Trump’s presidency, several U.S. drone strikes struck in Yemen. Officials claimed that 10 militants were killed. Were these suspected militants or actual militants? Did the U.S. know their names, or the story of their lives? Were they wage earners, students, farmers? Who were they? Does the U.S. have the right to execute a person in a foreign country on suspicion alone? Do our police have the right to shoot and kill a person on suspicion alone?
According to leaked military documents, in a 6 month period alone in Afghanistan 90% of those killed by drones were civilians. [The Drone Papers, The Intercept] Is there any success in the continuation of these policies that continue to make more enemies in the world? If we acted in a way that demonstrated that the value of a person’s life in a foreign country was as valuable as the Navy Seals member, Ryan Owens, who died, would we come closer to the possibility of a lasting world peace? Please read over the statistics of the Sept. 2016 drone strike in Afghanistan,
and ask yourself what you could change or do to help create a world that is safer for everyone.
We of Occupy Beale Air Force Base say:
PLEASE STOP KILLING OUR MUSLIM SISTERS & BROTHERS. Ground the Drones! End the Wars!