Thursday, 1 October 2009

FIRST MINISTER CHALLENGED OVER DRONES AT ABERPORTH


Heron
Originally uploaded by michael_junge
Amnesty International has serious concerns regarding unmanned drones flown from Parc Aberporth , an assembly Government - funded facility iin Ceredigion, West Wales.Elbit systems flew the Hermes 450 from Parc Aberporth in 2005 -" marking the first time a pilotless aircraft weighing more than 330 pounds had been flown in nonsegregated UK airspace."The site is now being used to test an adapted version for the Royal Air Force.
Amnesty has called on the UK government to suspend all military exports to Israel as there is substantial risk that UK- supplied arms and components could have been used to target civilians in the recent Gaza conflict.
The Hermes 450 is manufactured by the Israeli firm Elbit Systems, with engines made by its UK subsidiary UAV enginesLtd. Elbit Systems claims that the UK company produces engines only for drones destined for export, not for those used by the Israeli Defence Forces(IDF) in the recent Gaza conflict. Amnesty International is seeking assurances from the UK government that it has not licensed components for use in military drones, and that it has taken sufficient monitoring to ascertain that UK engines , parts and technology are not and have not been used in drone aircraft operated by the IDF.
The Cardigan and North Pembrokeshire Amnesty International Group is keeping an eye on the situation in Parc Aberporth, and will continue to press the first Minister and the Welsh Assembly Government to introduce to its industry investment programme.
Meanwhile fears about the safety of testing unmanned aerial systems at West Wales Airport have been expressed after a drone crashed just after take off.
MEP Jill Evans who met with members of Bro Emlyn for Peace and Justice said "I am very concerned about the safety issues, especially in relation to creating the extended airspace for testing. This incident highlights how important that is.They want to extend the airspace over a wide area and the main concerns is one of safety for the local population, which I will raise in the light of this incident. Now it is even more important that WAG looks at this".
Harry Rogers of BEPJ said " thank goodness this plane was not further ino its flight. It could have been over Cardigan or Aberporth before it dropped out of the sky. This crash could be a foretaste of what is to come if a 500- square mile area of West Wales is allocated to the testing of unmanned dreones. Next time it could be someone's home or a school that the plane lands on. We need to get WAG to scrap these reckless plans."
Des Davies member of local ACTYMA campaign group opposed to development said "UAVs are 50 times more likely to crash than military aircraft, and flying them over an inhabited area is irresponsible."


CIVILIAN TARGETS IN GAZA

"Children playing on the roofs of their homes or in the street and other civilians going about their daily business, as well as medical staff attending the wounded were killed in broad daylight by Hellfire and other highly accurate missiles launched from helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles,or drones, and by precision projectiles fired from tanks.
Disturbing questions remain unanswered as to why such high -precision weapons , whose operators can see even small details of their targetts and which can accurately strike even fast moving vehicles , killed so many children and other civilians."


From Israel/Gaza - Operation Cast Lead: 22 days of death and destruction, Amnesty International, 2009



other sources-

Tivyside Advertiser

Carmarthen Journal

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