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Tag Archives: Waziristan

Judy Bello | Fellowship of Reconciliation 

A local journalist has taken the lead in drawing attention to the victims of drone strikes in Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Persistent drone attacks in this region have terrorized the community and disorganized the society that is the basis of support for the people. Noor Behram has dedicated himself to bringing the tragedy imposed on his community by a foreign army pursuing its own aims. He has compiled a dossier of photographs of child victims of the attacks, and of the general devastation of destroyed homes and lives.

According to Shahzad Akbar of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights in Islamabad, Noor came to town a year ago with his photos and asked for assistance in finding a venue where he could show his photos. When he couldn’t get a gallery to support a showing, he set them up on the street. Since then, his pictures have appeared in numerous news outlets from the Guardian of London to Rachel Maddow’s show on MSNBC. On October 7, 2012, posters made from these photos adorned and identified our buses as we headed for South Waziristan with Imran Khan’s Peace March.

Noor attended a meeting we held with some family members of victims of drone attacks. During the introductions, he busily sifted through a large envelope full of photos. When he spoke, he held up the images that would illustrate his words. Noor says that he has about 100 photos of children who have been killed by drone attacks, but there are many more whose bodies were torn to pieces by the Hellfire missile that took their lives, or who were already buried by the time he was able to arrive.

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Pat Chaffee, reflections on the 2012 Pakistan delegation

A man burns the U.S. flag in protest of a drone strike in Multan, Pakistan, on July 7, 2012.

Our government tells us that drones are smart, and target only “the bad guys.” I have no doubt that the drone operators sitting in a secure location aim their super-sophisticated technology at what they believe are the “bad guys.” This, in itself, I condemn as assassination, extra-judicial killing. In addition, I, along with many others opposed to drone warfare, raise two questions: How credible is the intelligence identifying a person as a militant extremist? Who is killed along with the targeted individual?

On October 4, 2012, I, together with 34 other Code Pink peace delegates to Pakistan, sat in the office of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, in Islamabad, listening to Karim Kahn, a Pashtun tribal leader. Karim told us of the drone attack on his village in Waziristan that destroyed his house and killed his son, who had just graduated from high school, and his brother, a teacher who guided his students away from a mindset of violence. The drone, Karim told us, was reported to have killed Haji Omar, a Taliban commander. But, said Karim, Haji was nowhere near that location at the time of the attack. And, emphasizing his disgust with dismissive gestures and grim humor, he said, “Two weeks later, I hear that Haji has again been killed in an attack, and later again, that Haji Omar has been killed. What’s going on here? How many times can a man die?” Read More

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Alli McCracken, alli@codepink.org 034 1985 3545
Medea Benjamin, medea@codepink.org 033 6597 8798

CODEPINK Joins Pakistani March to Waziristan to Protest US Drones

On Friday, October 6th, a delegation of 32 CODEPINK peace activists will set out on a historical march to Waziristan, where US drones have been killing so many innocent people. They will be joining political leader Imran Khan and many thousands of Pakistanis in the first-ever attempt to march to the troubled tribal areas that have been off-limits to non-residents. The group will spend the night of October 6th in Dera Ismail Khan and on October 7th the caravan will proceed to the village of Kotkai, where a massive rally is planned.

The march has already created a stir throughout the country of Pakistan, and internationally. Rumors have been swirling of possible attacks by local militants, and the US embassy has said that it cannot guarantee that drones will not strike during the march. Nonetheless, the group is determined to go ahead.

When asked why she was going to participate in this march considering the serious security risks, Dianne Budd, a medical doctor from San Francisco, answered, “Of course I’m concerned about our security, but I am even more concerned about the security of the people of Waziristan who face constant threats and terror from the drones flying above their heads twenty-four hours a day.”

On Friday, the group met with about a dozen drone attack survivors who came to Islamabad to tell their stories. “I felt horrified and ashamed hearing how these drones have not only killed these people’s loved ones but have disrupted their daily lives,” said Chelsea Faria, 22 years old from Northampton, Massachusetts, and the youngest member of the delegation. “We were told that people are afraid to send their children to school, attend community meetings, go to weddings and funerals, because they never know when a drone might hit.”

The delegation is anxious to show Pakistanis, three-fourths of whom consider America their enemy, that there are Americans who care about their lives and are determined to change US foreign policy. “We also feel this march will put significant pressure on the Obama administration to come clean about these drone attacks, to recognize how inhumane and counterproductive they are,” said CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin. “We will continue to find ways to protest these barbaric assassinations until they finally end,” she added.

Common Dreams

Former US ambassador and peace activist Ann Wright – who has arrived in Islamabad to participate in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s peace march to South Waziristan. Wright and Imran Khan spoke to the media in Islamabad on Sunday, September 30, 2012.

Anti-drone protesters from across Pakistan and around the world are gathering in Islamabad this week in preparation for a weekend march into the tribal areas of South Waziristan.

Ignoring a travel warning issued by the U.S. State Department for Pakistan, a delegation of 30 US activists and parents of U.S. Army soldiers has arrived in Islamabad, where they plan to join the October 6 and 7th march and rally.

The march is being organized and led by Imran Khan, the former Pakistani national cricket captain and now head of the polical party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Khan and his party have emerged as the leading critics of America’s covert program of lethal drone strikes.

Khan has said that he expects up to 100,000 to join this weekend’s march.

When Khan announced plans for the march this summer the Pakistani Taliban said they would stop the march by killing Khan, the former cricket star turned politician Imran.

“If he comes, our suicide bombers will target him,” the Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan told the Associated Press during an interview in a remote compound in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), a mountainous and lawless region on the Afghan border.

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Madison Park | CNN

A three-month-old infant receives polio vaccination drops from his mother at a camp in Jalozai, Pakistan on July 13.

A ban on polio vaccinations imposed by the Taliban could affect about 280,000 children living in tribal areas of northwest Pakistan, according to estimates from the World Health Organization.

Last month, local Taliban militants prohibited polio vaccines over the United States’ use of drone strikes in the region.

When a three-day nationwide effort to administer polio vaccines began this week,health workers and volunteers weren’t able to immunize children in North and South Waziristan.

Under this security situation, they “obviously cannot operate,” said Mazhar Nisar, the health education adviser in the Pakistani prime minister’s polio program. “We’re hoping that the campaign will resume in the near future.”

Throughout the rest of the country, vaccination efforts continued as 180,000 health workers and volunteers fanned throughout communities trying to immunize 34 million children, under the age of 5.

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