5,000 RALLY AT RAMSTEIN TO STOP DRONE WAR

In June 5,000 people joined hands outside Ramstein AFB in Germany calling for an end to the use of the base as a central control point for U.S. killer drone operations. Here is a report on the protest by Elsa Rassbach, one of the chief organizers of the Ramstein action. Elsa joined us in Philadelphia for our DNC witness where she told those attending the speak-out mentioned above that drone war protest in the U.S. has been a critical driving force behind drone war protest in Germany.

As some of you may already know, the demonstration at Ramstein Air Base on June 11th was the largest against drone warfare that has ever taken place in a Western country as well as the largest demonstration ever in the history of the decades-long protests against the US military base in Ramstein. This is a very exciting and hopeful development. It was inspired by the courageous and dedicated anti-drone movements in the US and worldwide and by the years of work by families of drone victims as well as by NGOs, journalists, attorneys, parliamentarians, and US whistleblowers to reveal the key role of Ramstein Air Base in Germany in the US drone killings in many countries. 

The CODEPINK speaking tour in Germany in April made a very strong contribution in public education and mobilization for this successful demonstration at Ramstein Air Base on June 11th. Thanks again for your very effective and memorable presentations, which made such a strong impact on the parliamentarians with whom we met and on the participants at our evening discussion events. 

For the June 11th demonstration, Ray McGovern joined us as a keynote speaker, and I spoke on behalf of CODEPINK. In the days prior to the demonstration, Ray and I met with members of the Bundestag in all four (!) parliamentary groups, including the Chair of the NSA Investigation Committee, a member of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. (This committee is also investigating the allegations regarding the use of Ramstein for extra-judicial drone killings). We also met with the Chair of the Defense Committee in the Bundestag, a member of the SPD parliamentary group. It became clear that our CODEPINK meetings with members of the Bundestag in April had paved the way to enable the meetings with Ray in June to take place. MdB Karl-Heinz Brunner (who organized the meeting with all of us in April) told a large group of parliamentarians and NGO representatives that he had come to his evaluation leading to his strong opposition to extra-judicial drone killings through CODEPINK…

One June 13th, the Ramstein Campaign issued a follow-up statement entitled
5,000 people protest in Ramstein – Drone warfare is murder. We will be back!

In the statement, the central concerns of the demonstrators are set forth as follows:

  • End the illegal drone war! 
  • The Air Base with its central command structures, including for nuclear war and missile defense, must gradually be closed down. 
  • The military jobs must be converted into civilian ones by means of a comprehensive conversion program.
  • Germany's involvement in wars of intervention must be ended, and all re-armament programs stopped.

The demonstrators also declared their solidarity with the refugees who have to come here because of the US and NATO wars. 

Though most reporting was in German, here are some news reports in English:  

MILITARY

— Stars and Stripes (two stories, one with photo gallery)

http://www.stripes.com/news/europe/no-drone-war-thousands-converge-in-protest-outside-ramstein-1.414238

http://www.stripes.com/news/thousands-expected-to-protest-alleged-drone-operations-at-ramstein-1.413746 

— Military(dot)com

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/06/12/no-drone-war-thousands-converge-in-protest-outside-ramstein.html

INDEPENDENT

— Democracy Now

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/6/13/headlines/germany_thousands_protest_us_drone_war_at_ramstein_air_base

— Common Dreams

https://www.mintpressnews.com/germany-thousands-surround-us-air-base-protest-drone-use/217153/

NEWS AGENCIES (these stories appeared in a number of local newspapers in the US)

— Reuters

http://www.businessinsider.com/thousands-of-germans-surround-ramstein-air-base-to-protest-the-uss-use-of-drones-2016-6?IR=T

— Associated Press:

http://www.theolympian.com/news/nation-world/article83198117.html

DEUTSCHE WELLE

http://www.dw.com/en/anti-drone-rally-at-us-air-base-ramstein-draws-thousands/a-19323459

RT

https://www.rt.com/news/346251-us-base-germany-protest/

INTERNATIONAL (sample)

— Daily Pakistan

http://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/world/thousands-protest-against-drone-attacks-near-us-base-in-germany/

— Thailand

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSUoEG3cVEk