A delegation of US activists are touring Pakistan to protest the use of drones by Washington. Thousands have been killed by these weapons., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
American anti-drone activists in Pakistan ahead of mass rally
Wed Oct 3, 2012 7:26PM GMT
U.S. anti-drone activists arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday, joining fellow human rights campaigners who plan to take part in a mass protest against U.S. drone strikes in the region this weekend.
The delegation met with victims of drone strikes and delivered petitions to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad to demand an end to the indiscriminate killings.
Members of U.S. activist group CODEPINK, among others, arrived ahead of the full delegation earlier this week to meet with anti-drone activists in Pakistan, think tanks, human rights organizations, and others ahead of the march. The group will march into the heart of the tribal areas of South Waziristan -- one of the main targets of U.S. drone strikes in the country.
The mass protest has been organized by Imran Khan, head of Pakistan political party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who has estimated that hundreds of thousands of people will join the march and rally, taking place on October 6 and 7th.
"The response from Pakistanis has been overwhelmingly positive and welcoming, and many plan to join the CODEPINK contingent as it marches to South Waziristan to protest U.S. drone strikes on October 7th," CODEPINK stated today.
"We are already receiving an outpouring of support from Pakistani people who are heartened to learn that there are Americans with a conscience who are willing to come all the way to Pakistan to show solidarity and apologize for the drone strikes that have brought so much death and destruction to the impoverished people of north Pakistan," said CODEPINK cofounder and delegation leader Medea Benjamin.
The full delegation of U.S. activists met today with two of the victims of the first drone strike that was conducted by the Obama administration on January 23, 2009, a strike that killed nine civilians.
The delegation then delivered a petition, signed by tens of thousands of Americans opposing U.S. drones, to U.S. Embassy officials.
Additionally, the activists delivered a letter, organized by the group Just Foreign Policy, to the U.S. embassy, signed by twenty-six leading US authors and activists including Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Glenn Greenwald, and Danny Glover, calling upon U.S. authorities to end drone strikes in Pakistan.
In meetings with U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland, Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy challenged Hoagland "to respond to reports that CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have targeted civilian rescuers, and assertions by international law experts that such targeting is clearly a war crime under international humanitarian law."
The Ambassador denied such allegations and refused to commit to an end to the strikes in the region. Common Dreams
FACTS & FIGURES
The CIA and the U.S. military have used unmanned aerial vehicles known as drones to target and kill those Washington calls “suspected militants” in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
In 2008, after Barack Obama won the presidency in the U.S., the drone strikes escalated and soon began occurring almost weekly, later nearly daily, and so became a permanent feature of life for those living in the tribal borderlands of northern Pakistan. CBS News
A report released by the United Nations in June 2010 called the drone attacks part of a "strongly asserted but ill-defined license to kill without accountability". CNN
Pakistani sources put the civilian casualties of the drone strikes at a rate of 50 civilians for every militant killed, reports the New York Times.