AMERICANS MARCH AGAINST DRONES WITH FAMILIES OF VICTIMS OBAMA DENIES EXIST
Western activists march with thousands of Pakistanis to stop US drone strikes after meeting the families of victims Obama claims don’t exist.
In shooting par for the course, the corporate media is deafeningly silent about massive demonstrations being held in Pakistan by western activists and Pakistanis demanding an end to assassination drone strikes that have left a tidal of wave of civilians dead in their wake.
The rallies come as western activists have been able to force the United States ambassador to Pakistan to admit the drone strikes, as described in reports from numerous corporate media outlets, are in fact war crimes in violation of international law.
The Ambassador’s admission however comes with a denial that the United States is conducting drone strikes in the manner described by the corporate media.
The denial from the Ambassador is in lockstep with Obama administration’s denial that hundreds, and by some reports thousands, of innocent civilians have been killed in the drone strikes.
As the United States denies these allegation the western activists in Pakistan are meeting with the families of the drone strike victims that Obama simply says don’t exist.
The US ambassador to Pakistan was forced to admit the use of drone strikes as reported in numerous media reports are war crimes in violation of international law.
The United States ambassador to Pakistan was finally pressed on the use of drones to kill civilians and target rescue workers responding to initial drone strike casualties in Pakistan.
In responding to the reports of such tactics as reported and documented by numerous news sources and human rights groups the ambassador admitted that as described the attacks are war crimes in violation of international law.
However, the ambassador played dumb and said he has no knowledge of any attacks ever having occurred and is not familiar with the reports from the news sources cited from the activists.
Drone Watch Reports:
Americans in Pakistan Meet Families of Victims Obama Says Don’t Exist
Thirty-two U.S. peace activists, including 6 members of Veterans For Peace are taking part in a peace delegation to Pakistan organized by the anti-war group Code Pink.
Veterans for Peace – Wednesday the delegation met with U.S. Charge d’Affaires Richard Hoagland. U.S. peace activist Robert Naiman asked about reports of secondary attacks on rescuers of drone victims. Ambassador Hoagland denied that rescuers are targeted, but not that strikes are launched on the same location just struck minutes before.
Hoagland also said that he agreed with President Obama that the number of civilian deaths was near zero, but later seemed to contradict himself when he said that number he believed was accurate was in “two digits.” When asked to be more specific as to whether that number was closer to 10 or 99, he declined.
VFP President Leah Bolger asked: “Since you know exactly where we intend to go, presumably the CIA and the DoD know as well, so can you guarantee us that there will be no drone strikes in the area while we are there?” He then gave a 100% guarantee that there would be no strikes on the group. Bolger followed up with: “So if we just position Americans throughout the region, can we guarantee the safety of the Pakistanis as well?” He replied that most of the “militants” in the area are foreigners — not Pakistanis — and that they come in and take over. He said that the local people would be very pleased to have them go.
On Wednesday and Thursday the delegation met with drone victims, with more such meetings planned for Friday. The families of the victims related a very different story than that purported by the Charge. Karim Khan, described the deaths of his son and his brother in a 2009 drone attack, as well as the damaging psychological effects of having up to six drones circling overhead 24 hours a day. Khan’s story is featured in the book “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control,” which was written by the delegation’s leader, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin. See also this article. Andthis one.
The Pakistan National Defense University (NDU) was the site on Wednesday for a presentation by retired U.S. Army colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright, a lead member of the Code Pink delegation against drones. The delegation was invited to appear by the Dean of the Faculty of Contemporary Studies and was attended by an enthusiastic audience of NDU students as well as several high ranking officers.
Wright emphasized the illegality of the U.S. drone program which violates the sovereignty of other nations, and also allows President Obama to be the ‘judge, jury and executioner’ when he gives the go-ahead for extrajudicial signature drone attacks.
Wright’s anti-drone message resonated with the audience, who were also critical of U.S. policies. One questioner said that though drones may be an effective tactical weapon, but they were a failure strategically; i.e. the anti-American sentiment created by the deaths and the damage of the drones far outweighs the “benefit” of killing selected targets, even if they are considered “high value,” and that the policy of drone warfare would turn out to be counterproductive.
Following Wright’s presentation, Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin presented a copy of her book “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control” to Brigadier General Najam and the Dean, and responded to questions.
Benjamin pointedly noted that the U.S. drone program in Pakistan is run by the CIA, not the military, and is thus classified and sheltered from accountability. The U.S. government has only recently even admitted that it has a drone program, even though the program has been responsible for the killing of over 3000 Pakistanis since 2004. Benjamin noted that the Executive branch of the U.S. government subverts the Judicial branch by using the cover of “national security” to protect itself from legal action, and thus undermines the entire governmental system. One questioner noted that not only were U.S. policies a violation of international law, but also were especially dangerous because they set a precedent…”Bush started it, but Obama has made it worse.”
Bolger said, “In the few days we have been here we have met with dozens of Pakistanis who are outraged about the illegal murder of their fellow citizens. We have received nothing but gratitude, admiration and support for our stand against the policies of our own government, and we have been told that our presence here inspires them to stand up against the Pakistani government, which they see as complicit in these attacks.”
The six members of VFP who are part of the Code Pink delegation of 32 are Leah Bolger, Bill Kelly, Jody Mackey, Rob Mulford, Ann Wright, and Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin who is an associate member of VFP.
Participants are available for interviews by email and phone, and in-person after the trip.
Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization recognized as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United Nations, and is the only national veterans’ organization calling for the abolishment of war.
‘Stop the drones!’ Pakistanis and Western activists march against US strikes
Media reports suggest the march failed to enter South Waziristan on Sunday as Pakistani security forces stopped thousands of anti-US drone strikes marchers over security concerns.
RT – Media reports suggest the march failed to enter South Waziristan on Sunday as Pakistani security forces stopped thousands of anti-US drone strikes marchers over security concerns.
After consultations with the organizers, army officials convinced them to drop the plan in view of the security situation in the area.
The marchers returned to Tank, a major city near South Waziristan, where the organizer of the rally, former cricket superstar-turned-politician Imran Khan, addressed the ten thousand-strong rally.
“The drones are inhumane,” Khan said, surrounded by thousands of protesters.
“We want to give a message to America that the more you carry out drone attacks, the more people will hate you.”
About 30 Americans traveled to Pakistan to take part in the protest and apologize for the strikes to men and women who had been maimed or lost family members.
“We have to put pressure on the United States government,” said Billy Kelly, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran from New York. Earlier, a group of US and British anti-war activists have already marched through the Pakistani capital Islamabad in protest against US drone strikes in the northwest territory.
They chanted “Stop, stop drone attacks!” and sang “We are marching to Waziristan.” One placard read “Drones fly, Children die.”
The group then boarded around 150 cars and the motorcade proceeded through the route, stopping in major urban centers to rally more supporters.
The Western activists, including the US-based peace and social justice movement CODEPINK and Clive Stafford Smith, founder of the London-based legal advocacy organization Reprieve, have also met with relatives of people said to have been killed in drone attacks.
“We have learned here from victims’ families how innocent people, children and women, are being killed. Enough is enough. We should stop these attacks,” AP quotes CODEPINK activist Linda Wenning as saying.
The two-day rally has been organized by Imran Khan, the sportsman-turn-politician who has become a top critic of American drone strikes in Pakistan, saying they have killed many innocent civilians.
Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for the main Pakistani Taliban faction, made a statement on Friday calling Khan a “slave of the West” and saying that the militants “don’t need any sympathy” from such “a secular and liberal person.”
“Imran Khan’s so-called Peace March is not in sympathy for drone-hit Muslims. Instead, it’s an attempt by him to increase his political stature,” Ahsan claimed.
Tensions are running high between Pakistan and the US over the latter’s drone attacks on the majority-Islamic nation. Washington insists that its airstrikes, part of the US “War on Terror” campaign seeking to defeat Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants crossing the Afghanistan border, are very precise.
However the recent study at Stanford and New York University titled ‘Living Under Drones’ proves US drone strikes do little to make the US safer. The study claimed that only 2 per cent of drone strike casualties in Pakistan are top militants, and that the large number of resultant civilian deaths turn ordinary Pakistanis against the US.
The study also revealed that number of casualties among Pakistani civilians was far higher than the US acknowledged.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, from June 2004 till mid-September 2012, between 2,562 and 3,325 people were killed in drone strikes Pakistan, mostly in the North Waziristan region. Some 474 to 881 of those killed were civilians, including 176 children. Another 1,300 were wounded.