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‘We reject illegal killings’: Germany suspends drone purchase

Published time: November 15, 2013 10:33
Edited time: November 19, 2013 10:21
AFP Photo/Armin Weigel/Germany Out

AFP Photo/Armin Weigel/Germany Out

Berlin has suspended the purchase of armed drones on the grounds that it “categorically rejects illegal killings.” This follows a report by Amnesty International that accused Merkel’s government of aiding the US with drone strikes in Pakistan.

A draft agreement between the Social Democrats and the Conservatives obtained by Der Spiegel condemns the use of drones for targeted attacks.

"We categorically reject illegal killings by drones. Germany will support the use of unmanned weapons systems for the purposes of international disarmament and arms control," said the statement. The government says that before acquiring the remote-controlled craft, it must thoroughly examine “all associated civil and constitutional guidelines and ethical questions.”

In spite of significant opposition in Germany – 59 per cent of the population according to a Pew Research poll in 2012 – outgoing German defense minister, Thomas de Maziere, spent hundreds of millions of euros on drones that were not permitted to fly in German airspace.

“We cannot keep the stagecoach while others are developing the railway,” declared Maziere, who announced to the German public in May that talks were underway to discuss the purchase of US Predator drones and Israeli Heron drones.

However, with the formation of a new government in Germany following Chancellor Merkel’s reelection in September, the German policy on drones looks set to change. Both the Social Democrats and the Christian Socialist Union parties voiced their opposition to the deal, writes the Local.

The German government is “allowing all these operations and all these drone attacks by allowing the US military bases in Germany,” German MP Sevim Dagdelen told RT in an interview. “That’s why I cannot really say that they are rejecting” the use of drones for illegal killings.

Dagdelen said that some German politicians have changed their tune on drones after saying before recent elections that they would not support their use.

“It’s a hard slap to the face of freedom-loving and peace-loving people in Germany, because before the elections, the Social Democrats said they were not for the use of combat drones, that they are against it,” she said. “Now they are saying in the new government with the conservatives, they are okay for buying new combat drones.”

'License to kill' 

Although the German government has criticized Washington’s use of the remote-controlled craft to carry out strikes, Amnesty International has accused Berlin of complicity in some attacks. In a report published by the organization in October, Amnesty said it had data from Pakistani officials that Germany handed over key information on drone targets.

“Secret services in Germany and in other European states have worked together with the USA and its drone program in Pakistan,” said the report.

Amnesty has rejected Washington’s arguments that their targeted killings save lives and prevent terrorism, slamming them as “a license to kill.”

As part of the report on drone attacks, Amnesty investigated 45 targeted killing that took place between January 2012 and August 2013 in the tribal region of North Waziristan along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan.

Amnesty’s Pakistan expert, Mustafa Qadri said: “We are publishing this report to push governments, including Germany’s, to reveal its role in the US drone program.The German government must finally openly demand that the USA adheres to prevailing legal norms. German authorities cannot continue to support the USA’s illegal drone attacks.”

The government of Pakistan claims that drone attacks have claimed up to 900 civilian lives in the country and condemn them as a violation of sovereignty and human rights.

Dagdelen said an alternative to combat drone use is for powers like the US to reverse their support of militants when it’s convenient.

“It’s always an option to stop killing and murdering people,” she said. “For me and many other people, it would be most important to stop supporting militant Islamists as the US did in the past. For example, in Afghanistan, or nowadays in Egypt or in Syria.”

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