On 26 June, about 100 people went on a pilgrimage to the military training ground on Epynt mountain in mid-Wales. On “Armed Forces Day” they showed their objection to the militarisation of Wales and in particular to the testing of unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs or drones.
A service was held in the remains of Babell chapel led by the reverend Guto Prys ap Gwynfor, chair of Cymdeithas y Cymod (the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Wales). He said that the authorities wanted us to remember those who they considered heroes, that is “those who are willing to kill others and to suffer in order for the privileged to keep their privileges”.
Instead, he wanted to remember the heroes of cultured Wales who had come from the Epynt area over the centuries, such as John Penri, TJ Llewelyn Pritchard and William Williams Pantycelyn, martyr, author and Wales’ most famous hymn-writer, respectively.
The group then proceeded to the mock village which the army has built on the mountain, to demonstrate that they did not want Welsh land and airspace to be used to prepare for war. In particular, they voiced their objection to drones being tested between Aberporth and Epynt because there was evidence that these have killed many innocent civilians.
A ceremony was held to commemorate some of the civilians who were known to have been killed by missiles launched from drones - innocents such as Shaza al-’Abd Muhammad al-Habbash, a 10-year-old girl who was killed on 4 January 2009 while playing on the roof of her house in Gaza City.
The pilgrims commemorated a number of people like Shaza by writing their names onto the mock gravestones in the mock village. They were aware that there are most likely many more civilian victims, but no record exists about them.
Guto Prys ag Gwynfor mentioned new research by the Oxford Research Group attesting that international law requires that records be kept of all victims, and he called on the governments of countries who use drones to do so.