#CloseRamstein: Thousands petition German govt to close US drone base
A petition demanding that the US Air Force (USAF) be ejected from a base in Germany was presented to the German parliament today, following a campaign against drone strikes which gathered over 20,000 signatures.
Cian Westmoreland, a former USAF drone technician, and Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department official, presented the petition to officials from the German government at a ceremony at the Bundestag. The petition, which calls for the closure of the Ramstein Air Base operated by the US military, was also presented to officials at the Pentagon on Monday.
Ramstein, located in the Rhineland-Palatinate state near Mainz, hosts more than 16,000 American military and civilian personnel. Top secret documents leaked to the German press revealed that the base is home to a central communications hub connecting pilots in the United States to USAF unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, operating in theatres in the Middle East and Africa.
Following a joint investigation with The Intercept, Der Speigel revealed that a top-secret satellite relay station on the base is currently used to connect remote pilots of the drone warplanes - located on bases in the United States - with the unmanned aircraft carrying out missile attacks and reconnaissance on other continents.
According to Reprieve, a human rights organisation that assists drone victims, an estimated 4,000 people have been killed by American drone strikes.
Reprieve staff attorney Dr Jennifer Gibson said that intelligence behind the assassination strikes was so poor that missiles had missed the intended target as many as ten times in a row.
She said: “Throughout the discredited ‘War on Terror’, the US has tried to redefine language to avoid liability for human rights abuses... The British Government cannot unilaterally change international law because they want to assassinate people, any more than Donald Trump can bring back waterboarding.”
The United States has conducted assassinations using drone aircraft since 2001, beginning with an assasination attempt on Taliban Supreme Commander Mullah Mohammed Omar. Controlled by the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the missile strikes have been carried out in several countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.