by Nick Mottern, published on KnowDrones, May 8, 2020
The German Parliament is about to enter a decisive stage in the only public debate ever to be required by the ruling parties of a NATO-member state regarding whether to acquire lethal killer drones. Other NATO countries have blindly followed the U.S. and Israeli precedent without much public discussion.
This unique situation in Germany results in part from “the importance of international law that Germans came to recognize after the Nazis,” said Elsa Rassbach, of CODEPINK-GERMANY, in her May 4, 2020 interview on The Real News Network:
German reflection about their own nation’s criminal past, she says, has led to strong criticism of the U.S. government’s ruthless violation via its drone program of international and human rights law. Though the German military has tried for more than seven years to acquire armed drones, so far it has not been able to persuade a majority of the population or their representatives in the German Parliament to authorize the acquisition of armed drones.
But next Monday, May 11, 2020, as Rassbach reports in the interview, the German Defense Ministry is moving during the Corona-Virus-Crisis to get around an agreement by parliamentarians to hold a “broad public debate” on the legality and ethics of the use of armed drones. The Ministry of Defense plans to hold its own hearing loaded with hand-picked witnesses in which attendance will be limited to selected parliamentarians and reporters. So far, no drone whistleblowers or victims of drone attacks have been invited to testify.
Taking advantage of the current lockdown due to COVID-19, during which large public protests are prohibited, the German Defense Ministry will likely promise the parliamentarians that it will never use killer drones for war crimes. And the Ministry will argue that the arming of German drones is essential for the “protection” of German soldiers on their supposed peace-keeping missions in Afghanistan and in Mali. The Ministry will thus attempt to achieve a consensus among the leaderships of a majority of the six parliamentary parties.
Whatever the Ministry of Defense promises now, it can make no promises regarding the use of drones by future German governments, which may include the right-wing populist forces that are on the rise throughout Europe. Peace activists and many parliamentarians believe it essential that Germany hold the line against acquiring killer drones.
WHAT YOU CAN DO.
During the COVID Lockdown, many house-bound Germans are writing letters to the parliamentarians, particularly to the members of the key committees for the decision about arming the drones. In addition, after receiving complaints about the exclusivity of the Ministry of Defense event on May 11th, the Ministry has opened up a parallel discussion on Twitter, and some killer-drone opponents are tweeting in English, German and other languages.
Elsa is asking us to watch her 17-minute Real News interview and then immediately tweet messages about why Germany should not arm drones: https://twitter.com/hashtag/DrohnenDebatte2020?src=hashtag_click
Please also send emails (by not later than May 20th) to members of the German Parliament, particularly in the Defense and Budget committees, urging that Germany not arm its drones. These emails can be of any length and give your personal reasons to oppose drone killing. For an example of such a message, see the letter written in 2018 by Ed Kinane of Upstate Drone Action. https://www.knowdrones.com/blog/2018/6/7/urgent-extremely-important-request-from-elsa-rassbach-in-berlin-to-us-drone-war-organizers
Elsa reports that many German parliamentarians are interested in what Americans have to say about drone warfare, and the letters have gotten attention.
The links below open to email addresses of German parliamentarians that you can copy and paste into the address line of your email message.
Please do not be daunted by the number of email addresses. Many German activists write to all the German parliamentarians at once. If your email service can handle multiple recipients, you can copy and paste all or lots of parliamentarians’ email-addresses into the address field of a single email. As you likely are not a constituent of a German parliamentarian, it is fine for you to write to all simultaneously with open addresses.
- Alle Bundestagsabgeordnete (All members of the German parliament)
- Verteidigungsausschuss (Defense Committee)
- Haushaltsausschuss (Budget Committee)
Here is a screen shot showing how the addresses will look in your email address line, and the beginning of a sample message.
Nick Mottern is the founder and coordinator of KnowDrones.com. Nick has worked as a reporter, researcher, writer and political organizer over the last 30 years. Nick’s contact: nickmottern(at)gmail.com