Camp Douglas, WI – Thirteen Wisconsin citizen activists held their monthly vigil outside the gates of Camp Williams/Volk Field on Tuesday May 22, 2012, calling for an end to drone warfare.  People attended from Madison, Monona, Portage, Montello, Mount Horeb, and Wisconsin Rapids.  Camp Williams/Volk Field is a National Guard facility where testing and training for the RQ-7 Shadow 200 drones is being conducted.  The monthly vigils are organized by the Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, a group that practices nonviolent civil resistance against the illegal and immoral policies of our government.  They join an increasing number of activists all over the country who are speaking out against drone warfare.

Seven of the activists were arrested at the monthly vigil on April 24 as they attempted to peacefully walk onto the base to hand-deliver a letter to Col. Gary Ebben, Commander.  They were charged with disorderly conduct and will have their initial court appearance at the Juneau County Courthouse in Mauston on June 6.

The Associated Press reports that Obama’s top counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan is amassing power within his office as he and other top officials there make decisions on who will be killed by U.S. drone attacks, shrinking the number of people making decisions and cutting out any kind of accountability.  This has caused some of those carrying out the policy to become leery of “how easy it has become to kill someone.”  Human rights and civil liberty groups are calling for transparency in the decision-making policy, but are not getting any kind of cooperation from the government.

Joy First, Monona, said, “Our government is working towards normalizing and desensitizing us to drone warfare.  No US soldiers are killed and so we are supposed to accept it as a "good" style of warfare, but we have to open our eyes and realize that our government is killing innocent children, women, and men - all in our name.  Drone warfare is illegal and immoral and we must call on our government to stop it immediately.” 

The activists have been holding the vigil monthly since December 2011 and plan to continue to vigil on the 4th Tuesday of each month.  It is the deaths of so many innocent children, women, and men that is so egregious, inspiring the activists to speak out.  Though the U.S. government tries to cover it up, there is documentation to suggest that 700 or more innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and other places around the world have been killed by drones since 2004. 

The activists also maintain that drone warfare is illegal, going against the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions, and the principles of the Nuremburg Tribunal.  It constitutes extra-judicial killing, killing without any kind of due process, and is often based on faulty evidence.

Long-time activist Bonnie Block, a member of Madison Pledge of Resistance and Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice talked about the importance of going to Camp Williams, stating, “I join in this monthly vigil because I cannot let drone warfare continue without my protesting it. Extrajudicial killing with unmanned drones is wrong.  Even if our protest doesn't stop the drone training facility from being built we can at least make visible our human concern for the well being of others. And we can model the hopefulness that totally rejects war as a way to resolve our conflicts.”   

The next vigil will be held at the gates of Camp Williams/Volk Field on June 26 from 3:30-4:30.  There will be a community-building picnic potluck at the wayside near the base after the July 24 vigil.


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