Anti-Ramstein protesters seek dialogue with airmen
By WILL MORRIS AND MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 17, 2017
RAMSTEIN, Germany — A group of protesters who have scheduled a series of demonstrations against drone operations allegedly directed from Ramstein Air Base hope to meet and talk with airmen and other military personnel in the area during September protests.
The group, Stopp Air Base Ramstein, plans to hold protests at the bases in the Kaiserslautern area from Sept. 3 until Sept. 10. The protests are to include forming a human chain from Ramstein-Miesenbach to the air base and establishing a “peace camp” with cultural exhibits.
The group demands an end to what they say is the use of the air base to relay telemetry to drones that collect information on terrorist groups or attack designated targets. The protesters say the attacks on suspected terrorists and militants are in fact “extrajudicial killings” that are unethical and a violation of international law.
“We had, in the past, some discussions with some of the soldiers,” activist Reiner Braun said. “We have a big desire to have any discussion with U.S. soldiers, with U.S. citizens, with anyone here. It would be helpful in this case. I think we need an exchange about what is terrorism, how we are coming to terrorism and how we can overcome terrorism. Can we overcome terror by developing more terrorism from our side?”
Lt. Col. Joel Harper, spokesman for the Ramstein-based 86th Airlift Wing, said that the base welcomes civil discourse. But he insisted that “remotely piloted aircraft are not operated from Ramstein Air Base.”
“No data is relayed through Ramstein for the operation of drones,” he said. “The 693rd (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Group on Ramstein provides analysis of data obtained from a variety of (remotely piloted aircraft) flown in theater but does not control their mission orders or flights.”
The demonstrations against U.S. bases in Germany are annual events. Last year German police estimated that about 2,000 people showed up in support of the Berlin-based coalition’s protest.