By Shirley Osgood, October 30, 2018
BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, near Wheatland – Four demonstrators were arrested early Tuesday, Oct. 30, as they opposed the ongoing 17-year U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan and U.S. occupation of one of the poorest countries in the world.
Activists stretched a large banner across the road that said: STOP DRONING AFGHANISTAN; 17 YEARS ENOUGH!
Four protesters were arrested, and held for 2.5 hours in military jail cells on the base. They face misdemeanor trespassing charges in U.S. Court with a maximum penalty of six months in federal prison. Those arrested were Michael Kerr, Bay Point, CA; Mauro Oliveira, Montgomery Creek, CA; Shirley Osgood, Grass Valley, CA and Toby Blome, El Cerrito, CA.
Afghanistan, referred to as “the most droned country on earth,” has over 40,000 foreign troops, including U.S. military, allied forces and private mercenaries. “Mission Accomplished” was declared by two previous U.S. Administrations, Bush and Obama, yet, after October 7, the 17th anniversary of the U.S. invasion, the bombing campaign continues under President Trump, with no end in sight.
Beale Air Force Base is intimately involved in the U.S. drone assassination program. Airmen at Beale who are in the covert unit that controls the U.S. Global Hawk surveillance drone work cooperatively with armed drone operators elsewhere to surveil, target, and execute drone strikes remotely in foreign countries. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and funerals, wedding parties, mosques, schools and other public gatherings have been attacked by U.S. remotely controlled planes, known as drones.
Just two weeks ago, on Oct. 12, over 75 Somali new young “recruits” with Al-Shabaab were killed by a single U.S. drone attack. “We oppose the use of armed drones in all killing attempts. This type of remotely controlled aggressive violence, without any imminent threat, has become normalized in U.S. foreign policy. To whose benefit?” asks Toby Blomé, one of the arrestees. “What world is being created?”
Most often these strikes occur unannounced, without any warning. Bodies are often charred beyond recognition. “The relatives of the dead, the sons, fathers, cousins and even friends of the killed, could easily become the next recruits for any militant organization. This is no solution, and only further destabilizes any community,” says Ms. Blomé.
Activists arrested said they are committed to continue their ongoing anti-drone campaign at Beale AFB, Creech AFB and other U.S. drone bases until the cruel, illegal and immoral practice of drone killing ceases.