Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Will I Be Next?

US may be guilty of war crimes over drone use – Amnesty Intl

US officials responsible for carrying out drone strikes may have to stand trial for war crimes, according to a report by Amnesty International, which lists civilian casualties in the attacks in Pakistan.

The report is based on the investigation of the nine out of 45 drone strikes reported between January 2012 and August 2013 in North Waziristan, the area where the US drone campaign is most intensive. The research is centered on one particular case – that of 68-year-old Mamana Bibi, who was killed by a US drone last October while she was picking vegetables with her grandchildren.

The report is entitled ‘Will I be next?’ citing the woman’s eight-year-old granddaughter Nabeela, who was near when the attack occurred, but miraculously survived.

"First it whistled then I heard a "dhummm". The first hit us and the second my cousin,” Nabeela recalls.

The report also recounts an incident from July 2012, when 18 laborers, including a 14-year-old, were killed in the village of Zowi Sidgi. The men gathered after work in a tent to have a rest when the first missile hit. The second struck those who tried to help the injured.

Amnesty International is seriously concerned that these and other strikes have resulted in unlawful killings that may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes,” the report reads.

Amnesty’s main point is the need for transparency and accountability, something the US has so far been reluctant to offer.

The US must explain why these people have been killed - people who are clearly civilians. It must provide justice to these people, compensation and it must investigate those responsible for those killings,” Mustafa Qadri, the Amnesty researcher who wrote the report, says.

The report comes at a time when the US is facing growing international pressure over its drone program.

Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, is currently in Washington, where he is expected to talk drones with Barack Obama. And on Friday the UN General Assembly will be debating the use of remotely-piloted aircraft.

In a separate report, a UN investigation revealed some 33 drone strikes around the world - not just in Pakistan - that violated international humanitarian law and resulted in hundreds of civilian casualties. That report is also calling for more transparency and accountability from the United States. More

What the world lacks is Statesman, real leaders, leaders who, because of their record of standing up for doing the right thing, are respected. Who respects leaders today? They carryout extra-judicial killings, murder, invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, perhaps Syria next, cause millions of deaths, so who could respect them?

We must all fight to uphold the Rule of Law. The United States has set a precedent for international extra-jucicial killings. Which will be the next country, because they feel threatened by the United States, sends drones to attack them?

Extra-judicial killings are illegal and must be stopped. The planet has enough problems facing it from climate change, energy security and food and water security without illegal killings which may be a conflict trigger.

Leaders need the vision to see the bigger, long-term issues and realize that unless we all work together for the survival of the planet we shall in all likelihood perish. Editor