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Killer drone proliferation

In an article about killer drones made in Turkey, The Intercept wrote yesterday:

While the U.S. was the foremost operator of armed, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the world for more than a decade, launching the first drone attack in 2001, today more than a dozen countries possess this technology. The U.K., Israel, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Nigeria, and Turkey have all used armed UAVs to kill targets since 2015. Efforts by Washington to control proliferation through restrictions on drone exports have failed to slow down a global race to acquire the technology. Meanwhile, the U.S. has set a precedent of impunity by carrying out hundreds of strikes that have killed civilians over the last decade.

“We are well past the time when the proliferation of armed drones can in any way be controlled,” said Chris Woods, a journalist who has tracked drone use for more than a decade and director of the conflict monitor Airwars. “So many states and even nonstate actors have access to armed drone capabilities — and they are being used across borders and within borders — that we are now clearly within the second drone age, that is, the age of proliferation.”

The following is an excerpt from one of the comments to the article:

How long until killer robots are being used in the U.S.? We’ve already seen at least one lethal strike with a remotely controlled unmanned vehicle carried out by domestic law enforcement, in Dallas a couple years ago – the only difference being it was a ground vehicle not an aerial vehicle.

There are a number of routes by which lethal drone strikes could be introduced in the U.S. – in SWAT raids and other standoff situations, against suspected “terrorists” the government claims are armed, against alleged drug traffickers the government claims would be dangerous to try to arrest, against people suspected of crossing the border illegally in the desert. And like a snowball rolling downhill, it’ll become normalized.

As described in the Swedish book Världens dummaste folk?, even Sweden apparently participates in extrajudicial executions by drones.

Terrorism as an excuse for reducing citizens’ rights

After the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka last month, state of emergency was declared, in order to give the government and the authorities greater authority in the pursuit of those behind the attacks. Swedish Radio reports:

This means, among other things, that the authorities can pick up people for questioning and keep them detained without specific accusations for a long time.

This is something that worries human rights activist Ruki Fernando, who for many years has mapped human rights violations in the country. He believes that the government will now take advantage of the situation and try to introduce new tough laws that will reduce citizens’ rights.

Every government in Sri Lanka has an interest in introducing laws that keep the population at bay, says human rights activist Ruki Fernando. The laws that the president now wants to impose are laws that give the authorities greater authority to control the lives of citizens and indicate the path the government will take after the attacks and the forthcoming presidential elections.

Read more on Swedish Radio (news in Swedish) and on Ruki Fernando’s blog. Now, curfew has been imposed in part of Sri Lanka and social media has been blocked, according to Swedish Television (news in Swedish).

Putting humanity at risk

Despite that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is in many ways considered illegal and the devastating consequences of nuclear war, even some governments that are supposedly against nuclear weapons apparently try hard to sabotage the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). A recent article in Swedish highlights that Sweden is one of the countries where the establishment now shows that they are accepting nuclear weapons. Three representatives for Pugwash in Sweden write that:

The armed forces have been able to form part of nuclear-related collaborations without any politically responsible person having opposed them.

According to a poll from 2017, about 9 of 10 Swedes support the TPNW. However, most of the Swedish political parties are against TPNW (see for example the web site of Svenska Freds, in Swedish). Resistance against TPNW is probably linked to that it could dismantle the absurd profitability of nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, Nevil Shute Norway’s classic book On the Beach continues to be relevant reading.

NATO 70 years old

Accoun has earlier highlighted NATO’s criminal past. This year, when NATO has turned 70 years old, protesters in many countries are calling for freedom from NATO. Stopp NATO and Norge ut av NATO (Norway out of NATO) write that this anniversary is nothing to celebrate (links to content in Norwegian). The Florence Declaration calls for an exit from NATO – read it in English or Swedish (with link to other languages). Meanwhile, news are also emerging about how police has infiltrated anti-NATO organizers.

Mass execution in Saudi Arabia

Amnesty International reports about the execution of 37 people convicted on “terrorism” related charges:

Also among those executed is Abdulkareem al-Hawaj – a young Shi’a man who was arrested at the age of 16 and convicted of offences related to his involvement in anti-government protests. Under international law, the use of the death penalty against people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime is strictly prohibited.

However, the ruling elite seems to get away with anything. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been described as a significant source for funding of terrorism worldwide.

Manning, Assange and Bini

Last month, Chelsea Manning was sent to jail indefinitely after she refused to take part in a US Department of Justice investigation into WikiLeaks. Now a court has denied the whistleblower’s request to be released on bail.

This month, on the 11 April, both Julian Assange and a friend of him, Ola Bini, were arrested.

Regarding Assange, keep in mind that already in 2016, the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Assange’s deprivation of liberty, which is considered a form of arbitrary detention, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation. However, that is hardly ever mentioned by mainstream media. For example, The Economist argues that Assange should be extradited. Among many other things, the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks revealed how Swedish social democrats asked the US embassy for help to gain public support (link to content in Swedish). That year, Assange was invited to Sweden, where he became suspected of sexual misconduct and other allegations,

According to Bini’s lawyers, the detention of Bini is unlawful – he was denied access to lawyers for 17 hours, was not informed of the charges against him, and was not offered a translator, as required by local laws. His lawyers also said they have been harassed and threatened by police.

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