Drone Attacks on Pakistani Civillians

Ob297-Bibi-Mammana-Panorama-screengrab

Bibi Mamana was in her 60’s when a drone attack killed her last October. She was a grandmother, gardening and collecting firewood for her grandchildren, caring for their livestock, when two drones struck, and she was torn apart. Her grandchildren had to be hospitalized for their injuries.

“At the sound of the explosion, Mamana’s grandson Kaleem (aka Kaleemur or Kaleemullah), 18, ran from the house to help his grandmother. But five to seven minutes later the drones struck again, he told the BBC.”

“Atiq’s brother Rafiq was also away from the house when the missiles hit. He arrived as Mamana’s grave was being dug. Her body was already in a coffin. He told the BBC: ‘I threw myself over her coffin but the box was closed. The family told me not to open it as she had been hit by a missile and her body was in pieces.’”

Official claims stated that all those who perished in the drone attacks were terrorists. Really. A civilian family, far enough away from any armed enemy of the U.S., was neither a threat nor were they in any way deserving of such an attack. It is heart-wrenching and sickening to imagine the feelings of those left to mourn the needless death of the family members and friends.

Earlier in 2012, 18 labourers were killed in a multiple-strike attack. One was only fourteen years old. This happened in a poor village. These people were working to feed themselves and their families, and they died for it.

No one can deny a situation such as this is a war crime. This is not acceptable. Now the locals need not only fear the Taliban and Al-Qaida. Now they are also wondering who else will die at the hand of the “Great America.” Are we finally going to understand the damage this “developed” country is doing to innocent people? On top of the grief and terror and confusion, these people have no one to turn to. They do not know who they can trust to report these war crimes to, because they could be threatened or killed by their own government.

“Residents also told Amnesty International they could not report abuses by armed groups to local authorities for fear of retaliation. Many residents were also fearful of talking about drones strikes to Amnesty International. Some of those who did speak openly received threats afterwards.”

“International law prohibits arbitrary killing and limits the lawful use of intentional lethal force to exceptional situations. In armed conflict, only combatants and people directly participating in hostilities may be directly targeted. Outside armed conflict, intentional lethal force is lawful only when strictly unavoidable to protect against an imminent threat to life . In some circumstances arbitrary killing can amount to a war crime or extrajudicial execution, which are crimes under international law.”

I think that when human rights agencies such as Amnesty International take the U.S. government to task, change will slowly begin to take place, and we can all work to make this world a safe place for the innocent. It isn’t idealistic or unreasonable to expect that human life be respected. In the meantime, those that have lost their lives too soon will be remembered. Their voices are still being heard, and may they inspire us to invoke change for the years to come. Where war crimes are no longer accepted.

Sources: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

Naming the Dead

Amnesty International

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