On Friday, 9th July the BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) Group Berlin called for a protest in front of the Berlin office of the German Armaments Group Rheinmetall against the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“Drones”) in different wars in the Near and Middle East. Among others members of these groups took part in the manifestation: activists of the Jewish Voice for a Just Peace in the Middle East, the Middle East Group Berlin, the Grandmothers Against the War, the Kurdistan Solidarity Committee and the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall.
One main slogan of the manifestation was: „Rheinmetall and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) supply the German Army with drones for the war in Afghanistan – Stop it!” Rheinmetall has redeveloped the drone Heron, supplied by the Israeli company Aerospace Industries (IAI), for the special needs of the military intervention by the German Army (Bundeswehr) in Afghanistan.
„There is no security on civilian bodies“: this sentence was written on a banner that was laid on the pavement right in front of the frontdoor of the building where Rheinmetall has its office.
On other banners slogans like „Free Gaza!““No Weapons for Israel, no Weapons for Apartheid” “Let’s disarm Israel’s Apartheid” could be read. The manifestation was part of the International Day to mark the fifth anniversary of the Palestinian Civil Society Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights.
Activists dressed in white slipped to the ground – symbolizing the killings of civilians by drones.
In a poem the killing of Palestinian victims by Israeli drones in the Gaza Strip was remembered. Speakers made clear that also not directly killing drones are also often useful for the preparation of deadly military operations and for the control of the civilian population.
They stressed that Israeli arms exports play a key role in the wars in the Middle East. This is especially true for Afghanistan and for the Kurdish regions of Turkey. Speakers criticized the military cooperation with Israel as well as German weapon exports to Turkey.
During the Gaza War 2008/2009 according to informations by Human Rights Watch 87 civilians have been killed by Israeli drones of the types Heron and Hermes. In 2009 according to media reports 700 civilians have been killed in Pakistan by US-American drones.