Alyssa Figueroa | Alternet
“Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted today.…All [media] reported that three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day: Momina Bibi, a grandma, a midwife…not a militant but my mother.”
These are the words of Rafiq ur Rehman, whose 67-year-old mother was killed in Pakistan by U.S. drone in October 2012. Rehman told this story at a congressional briefing on Tuesday, accompanied by his two children, Nabila, 9, and Zubair, 13, who were injured by drones. Rehman’s other child Asma, 5, and his five nieces and nephews were also injured. The briefing, organized by Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), was the first time lawmakers heard from drone strike survivors and drone victims’ families.
“The string that holds the pearls together,” Rehman said. “That is what my mother was. She was the string that held our family together. Since her death, the string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.”
There is an estimate of 2,600 to 3,400 people killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, only 2 percent of whom were on the U.S. government’s high-value target list. Most of the rest go unnamed and unacknowledged by the U.S. government, though there are estimates of at least 400 to 900 confirmed civilian deaths and 200 deaths of children. The media reports that drones are constantly killing militants, mainly because President Obama redefined the term “militant” to mean every man of military age. Drone strikes have also been reported in Yemen and Somalia.
A recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans, 65 percent, support the use of drones. Ninety-seven percent of Pakistanis oppose drone use, while 74 percent consider the U.S. an enemy of their country. These growing numbers discredit the claim that our wars overseas are making us safer.
Stopping drone strikes will take collective action. Here are a few ways you can fight back against drone use.
Ryan Reilly | The Huffington Post
Medea Benjamin (left) of the anti-war activism group Code Pink fields media phone calls at a Starbucks after she interrupted President Barack Obama’s major national security speech Thursday, May 23, 2013. (Ryan J. Reilly/The Huffington Post).
WASHINGTON — Even Medea Benjamin was surprised she managed to get into President Barack Obama’s major national security address at National Defense University on Thursday. The long-time Code Pink protestor (and HuffPost blogger) is a fixture on Capitol Hill and well known to most D.C. reporters.
“I had my head down for about two hours and was talking on the phone for about two hours. I tried to be inconspicuous. I think sometimes I must be invisible,” Benjamin said. “There were a couple of journalists that came over to talk to me, but that’s about it.”
Benjamin, 60, was escorted out of the the hall after she repeatedly interrupted Obama’s address, pressing the president on the use of drone strikes overseas, including the killing of a 16-year-old U.S. citizen. Read More
Protesters march to the perimeter fence of RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire to protest its use as a centre for drone piloting in Afghanistan. Photograph: Matthew Cooper/PA
Hundreds of peace campaigners gathered outside an RAF base today to protest against armed drones being operated from Britain to conduct missions in Afghanistan.
Around 400 demonstrators took part in a march from Lincoln to a rally at nearby RAF Waddington, which assumed control of British drone missions in Afghanistan earlier this week.
The Guardian revealed on Thursday that the RAF had begun remotely operating its Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles from the Lincolnshire airbase.
The drones were previously operated from a United States Air Force base in Nevada.
Chris Cole, a coordinator of the Drone Campaign Network, said the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to wage war raised numerous legal, ethical and moral issues. Speaking near RAF Waddington’s perimeter fence, Mr Cole said: “This is the new home of drone warfare in the UK and there are questions about the growing use of these armed, unmanned systems.
“Because of their remote nature, there is no risk to any of our forces and that makes it easier to launch weapons and makes it much easier for politicians to get involved in warfare.” Read More
Protesters hold signs and chant slogans outside the White House in Washington on April 13, 2013 during a demonstration against the use of dones against Islamic militants and other perceived enemies of the US around the world. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
As Washington pushes to expand its drone warfare in Africa, hundreds have gathered in front of the White House to protest the “robotic killing machines” slaughtering thousands across the globe.
Organized by the ANSWER coalition, the movement is calling on the administration to stop the use of drones on foreign soil. The coalition urges its members to stop the US government as it “functions as a death squad government, permitting the president and military leaders to create secret ‘kill lists’ of people who have been selected for assassination.”
On the organization’s website people have voiced their reasons behind their protest.
“No one should sit passively and allow our government to wage a ‘quiet war’ – an undeclared war but a real war in our name!” Rev. Graylan Hagler, a senior minister wrote.
“It’s time we Americans join the rest of the world in condemning President Obama’s barbaric drone killing spree, a policy that benefits the war profiteers but makes us hated around the world,” Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder of CODEPINK said in her post. Read More
APRIL DAYS OF ACTION 2013 – A National Uprising to Stop Drone Spying and Killing
CODEPINK and other national and local groups have joined to form the Network for Stopping Drone Spying and Warfare and are organizing April Days of Action 2013 to generate a public uprising across the United States to stop drone spying and drone warfare.
We urge you to select one or more of the days in April listed below to organize actions in your community to focus on drone-related activities where you live. The national coordinator for each set of days is listed. Please be in touch with that person to ask questions and to let them know the days on which you will focus.
April 4 – 6: Drone Manufacturing
Organizers around the country are encouraged to identify drone manufacturing facilities in their regions and organize demonstrations, teach-ins and other actions calling for an end to drone attacks and an end to the manufacture of weaponized and surveillance drones. Coordinator – Joe Scarry – firstname.lastname@example.org
April 16- 18: Drone Research/Training
Ann Wright | OpEd News
As President Barack Obama spent his last day, January 5, in Hawaii, representatives from Hawaii Peace and Justice and World Can’t Wait protested his assassin drone program and lack of effort on Palestinian issues in front of his Hawaii vacation home.
Drone protests in the United States over the past three years have had an effect on reducing the number of drone strikes and the deaths of civilians. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) reported on January 4, that probably due to public criticism, “civilian deaths fell sharply in Pakistan in 2012, with Bureau data suggesting that a minimum of 2.5% of those reported killed were civilians — compared with more than 14% in 2011. This suggests the CIA is seeking to limit non-militant casualties, perhaps as a result of sustained criticism.”
BIJ states that another reason for a decline in Pakistani strikes and civilian casualties may have been growing hostility. Some 74% of polled citizens said they view the US as an enemy, and that Pakistan was the only nation favoring Mitt Romney for US President. Read More
BEALE AFB (Marysville), Ca. – Nine military veterans and peace activists from throughout California were arrested around at the main gate to Beale AFB (North Beale Road) today, protesting the inhumane and cruel U.S. Drone Program, now killing thousands of innocent men, women and children around the world.
About 100 activists from as far away as Fresno, the SF Bay Area, Sacramento and other Northern California cities unfurled large banners and carried model drones and large photos of child victims of drone strikes to show the dark side of drone warfare.
Beale AFB has been a target of anti-drone protests for years. Beale AFB is home to the U2 and the Global Hawk, the unmanned surveillance drone that is an “accomplice” in drone killings.
There have been a series of direct actions leading to arrests this year protesting President Obama’s use of drones, most recently at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY last Thursday, where 17 were arrested.
Activists demanded: (1) An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing (2) A halt all drone surveillance that assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights and terrorizes domestic life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia (3) A prohibition on the sale, and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom and security and (4) The U.S. must immediately stop this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.