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Protesting Drones at MIT

In a ceremony with painful moments, the names of victims of drone attacks were read aloud on Tuesday, May 6, as 50 activists called together by the Eastern Massachusetts anti-drone Network and other groups took part in National Days of Action opposing killer and spy drones.   

Thousands of people have been killed in drone attacks over the past few years, many hundreds were children:  Bibi Mamana midwife and grandmother, Tarik Aziz a 16 year old antidrone activist in Waziristan, Naeem Ullah 10 years old, the family of Abdullah Muqbil Salem Luqia which included five children aged a year and a half to age 12 (Ibrahim, Asma, Salma, Fatima and Sumia as well as his pregnant wife Saleha Ali Ahmen Mansur age 30)… The list is 18 pages long!  

We stood on the sidewalk near the main entrance of MIT at 77 Massachusetts Avenue to make the connections between Pentagon-funded research that takes place at MIT and drone technology.

Barbara Boltz of Arlington UJP reads the names of drone victims at MIT protest

Banners and signs included slogans such as:  USA is the real terrorist, End all the wars, Ground the Drones. Some signs had photos and biographical information about victims.  A scale-model drone replica was at the protest. 

Passers-by were mostly congenial, taking informational flyers (we ran out) and even signing onto the no-drones email list. 

MIT is one of the top research universities in the world.  Many of its departments and research centers contribute to advancing military drone technology.  For more info on military-related research funding see: http://justicewithpeace.org/node/5090 and http://masspeaceaction.org/5113

Subrata Ghoshroy called for a debate about U.S. priorities:  “How much money have we spent with very little to show for it?  The missile defense program cost over 200 billion dollars with no technology or science to come out of it.” 

He pointed out that the Pentagon drives the research agenda, and “that you have to pay the piper.”  

Ghoshroy reminded the crowd that MIT was called “Pentagon on the Charles” during the Vietnam War, and it is no different today, but no one is talking about it. 

Nancy Murray, who worked with ACLU for 25 years, spoke about the ACLU being strongly opposed to the kind of killing being done in our name – so called “targeted killing.” 

“We are told a fairy tale about bad guys being killed and that we always know who is on the other end of the missile.  In fact, signature strikes target any military age man who may be found in a place the U.S. regards as suspicious, he is considered a combatant.”

She said that we now know, thanks to Edward Snowden, that there is nothing human about the intelligence being used to decide who is killed – it is done by algorithm. 

A program with a code name of “Gilgamesh” is a geo-location system used by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in which the drone circles, locates the sim card in a cell phone and targets the next victim. 

She warned that drones are not being limited to military use; they are being acquired by local police departments.

Murray closed by saying that, “For the sake of humanity everywhere we must find ways to amplify our voices and rouse the nation from its corrosive conscience fatigue.”

*Drones armed with missiles and bombs are dropped in remote places killing people.  Often, after a drone attack when first responders go to aid victims, another drone attack is launched.  Two years ago, a NYT report informed the public that the President personally oversees a “kill list” every Tuesday to determine who should be assassinated that week in far-away places. 

More photos: https://www.facebook.com/Howie.Rotman/media_set?set=a.4230013365826.1073741882.1750111999&type=3 and https://www.facebook.com/joanlives/media_set?set=a.10202593182448351.100000776582834&type=3

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