By October 22, 2013 0 Comments Read More →

Civilian Deaths by U.S. Drone Strikes Constitute ‘War Crimes’ Says Amnesty International

Demonstrators stand beside a mock drone outside the gates of Fort McNair where President Barack Obama will speak at Washington's National Defense University

The U.S. drone strikes throughout the Islamic world have garnered considerable opposition in recent years. It seems that the means itself, of exceedingly remote targeting and bombing, lends itself to abuse and mistakes. One thing is for certain: there are a significant number of those killed by U.S. aerial drone strikes who have been confirmed to be civilians. Still, the Obama administration defends the drone strikes, which the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president has increased several hundred percent more than his predecessor in the White House.

Most recently, Amnesty International released a statement regarding the drone killing of a Pakistani grandmother and 18 civilian field laborers last year. The release by Amnesty International agrees with the official attitude of Islamabad, which publicly opposes drone attacks. Both explain that such U.S. strikes simply kill too many civilians for the program to be defended any longer.

According to Reuters, “The precise extent of human loss on the ground is unclear, however, because independent journalists and researchers have only limited access to the affected regions.”

For their part, Amnesty International stated that they have conducted “a detailed investigation into two strikes in North Waziristan, yielding a report based on more than 60 interviews conducted by teams of researchers working independently of each other,” Katharine Houreld said, reporting for Reuters.

“We were really shocked, especially with the grandmother case. At first we thought, that can’t be true – there must be something more to this,” explained Mustafa Qadri, author of the report for Amnesty International.

“People who are clearly no imminent threat to the U.S., are not fighting against the U.S., are being killed. The U.S. has to come clean publicly with the justifications for these killings,” he continued.

The report further detailed the killing of Mamana Bibi, 68, the wife of a retired school principal, as she was gathering vegetables, in the village of Ghundi Kala a year ago this month.

While she was the only casualty in this particular attack, her five grandchildren were also wounded, including Safdar, 3

This particular strike highlights a number of issues with the program, as the weather was clear, and there was good visibility for drone operators, according to the report. If drone operators cannot hit the correct targets in perfect weather, then what hope is there for the drone assassination program?

The report gives another example in July of 2012, where 18 men were killed in the village of Zowi Sidgi. Amongst the dead were woodcutters, gardeners, vegetable vendors and miners who had gathered together for dinner after a hard days work. Among them was a 14 year old laborer. The U.S. military has given no explanation for the “operator error” that lead to their deaths.

The current death toll of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan alone is, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2,525 and 3,613. At least 926 of those killed have been confirmed as civilians. With an error rate that high, the question is how long are U.S. citizens going to stand for this, and when will Muslim nations allied with the United States finally put their collective foot down and demand an end to this sickening program?

(Article by Isa Abu Jamal; image via Reuters)

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