Killer Drones in Wellington City?

A drone shadow in Aro Valley, Wellington, New Zealand.

A drone shadow in Aro Valley, Wellington, New Zealand.

Peace Action Wellington is delighted to see that street art in Wellington has taken on the weapons industry, with a series of drone drawings appearing on the streets of the city.

Full-scale drawings of unmanned aerial vehicles that carry out surveillance and air strikes have been sighted on the waterfront and in Aro Valley. It’s not clear how many there are in total, but they seem to follow the template set out by British artist James Bridle.

The ongoing illegal drone war carried out by the USA and UK, and supported by NZ, has killed over a thousand civilians and is perpetuating the crisis in the Middle East.

NZ is involved primarily through our membership in the 5 Eyes programme. Prime minister John Key has acknowledged that the GCSB provides information to the US which is used in drone strikes. In May 2014 he described drone strikes as “an effective way of prosecuting people that are legitimate targets”.

In 2006 a Pakistani school was targeted – 80 people died, 69 of them were school children aged between 7 and 17, the target being ‘prosecuted’ was the headmaster.

In 2011 a 16 year old American citizen, Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed along with several others by a drone strike in Yemen. The USA has denied that he was a target despite a drone strike targeting and killing his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, two weeks earlier.

In 2013 the first known New Zealand citizen was killed in a drone strike, he was collateral damage (along with four other people).

A drone strike in Syria carried out in July 2016 by a US-led coalition killed entire families, including young children – families that were fleeing Islamic State militants but were instead mistaken for those very fighters.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia have all suffered drone strikes by US or UK drones controlled from thousands of miles away – effectively the death penalty imposed by a foreign country without trial, and often without any declaration of war.

Thankfully the drones that are stalking the streets of Wellington seem to be harmless, but serve as a reminder that people unfortunate enough to live in war zones are faced with the reality that the gigantic robots hovering in the sky above could kill them at any time.

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