2011: Keep Space for Peace Week Protests Drones & Missile Offense Systems
Each fall the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space organizes a week of local actions called Keep Space for Peace Week. This year events were held from October 1-8 and the theme chosen by our leadership was the expanding use of drones in U.S. wars in the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa.
Protest actions took place throughout the U.S. and in six other nations at major space weapons installations and factories like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics.
Significant actions with arrests of protestors happened at many of the sites. Fifty-nine were arrested at the key drone operations base (Creech Air Force Base) outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Another protest was also held at drone base, Hancock Air Base in Syracuse, New York on October 4.
One large anti-drone protest took place at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington DC on October 8. A huge banner that read “No drones - End Afghan War” was dropped from the second floor landing inside the museum and many of the 250 activists were pepper sprayed as they attempted to enter the building.
On October 3 (International Children’s Day) in Stockholm, Sweden a vigil was held in front of the Parliamentary Building which featured a banner that read: DRONES KILL CHILDREN.
The growing anti-drone networks in the United Kingdom and the U.S joined this year’s Keep Space for Peace Week. In the UK anti-drone protests were held in at least six cities including Leicester where UAV Tactical Systems Company builds the Watchkeeper in partnership with the Israeli company Elbit Systems.
At the National Security Agency (NSA) HQ in Ft. Meade, Maryland, 14 activists were arrested as they sought to meet with the director to discuss perceived illegal and unconstitutional activities by NSA operatives. Three people were also arrested at a large protest outside of Strategic Command (StratCom) at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
Educational events were held during space week in six cities in India as the U.S. attempts to bring that nation into its space weapons program. On Jeju Island, South Korea, where the Gangjeong villagers are fighting against the construction of a Navy base that will port U.S. destroyers with “missile defense” systems on-board, several Global Network space videos were shown. A banner was displayed on the site of the people's daily candlelight vigil throughout space peace week that read: "No Jeju naval base! To save the Gureombee [rocky coastline] is to prevent militarization of space as well."
The Global Network has been invited by Gangjeong village leaders to hold our 20th annual space organizing conference on Jeju Island in 2012. We have agreed and it will be organized February 24-26. We invite others to join us in solidarity with the village.
Kauai Alliance for Peace & Social Justice in Hawaii held protests, in several locations around their island, beginning with the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the west side of Kauai. Navy Aegis "missile defense" will be tested there before being deployed at Jeju Island, Okinawa, Guam, Australia and other places throughout the Asia-Pacific as the U.S. now encircles the Chinese coastline with these systems.
In addition the Obama administration will also be deploying these Aegis destroyer “missile defense” systems in the Mediterranean and Black Seas in order to expand a similar encirclement of Russia. So-called “missile defense” systems are really about offense as they are key elements in Pentagon first-strike planning.
On October 1 a protest was held at Bath Iron Works in Maine where these Aegis warships are built by General Dynamics.
Colorado Springs, Colorado is the home to many space warfare installations including Schriever Air Force Base which describes itself as the "world's premier space operations team" that "wields space, cyberspace and expeditionary capabilities to deliver decisive global combat effects in support of national security objectives.” On October 3 members of the local group, Citizens for Peace in Space, held a protest outside Schriever with banners proclaiming, "U.S. Out of Afghanistan Now," "Cut Military Spending," "The chAir Force kills too" and "Keep Space for Peace."
The new award winning documentary film Pax Americana & the Weaponization of Space was shown in several cities in the U.S. and Canada during the week. Information about the film can be found at Pax-Americana
In addition to the Global Network, Keep Space for Peace Week was co-sponsored this year by Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (UK), Swedish Peace Council, Drone Campaign Network (UK), and United Against Drones (US).
For more information (videos, photos, news clips) about space week events please visit www.space4peace.org
Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space