US Peace conference puts face to drone victims
International law experts, peace activists, journalists and human rights advocates from around the world gathered in Washington, DC over the weekend to inform the American public about US drone policy and the impact it is having on human populations throughout the world.
Peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and theCenter for Constitutional Rights hosted the first International Drone Summit as a way to build an organizing strategy against the growing use of drones, call an end to airstrikes that kill innocent civilians, and to prevent the potentially widespread misuse both overseas and in the United States.
"Drone victims are not just figures on a piece of paper, they are real people and that’s why it is important to see what happens on the ground when a missile hits a target," said Pakistani attorney Shahzad Akbar, according to the Pakistani newspaper DAWN. “We have to see what exactly is happening on the ground, what is happening to the people,” he told the Washington conference.
During his speech, journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has done in-depth reporting on the US drone program in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, questioned the Obama Administration's policy of assassination. "What is happening to this country right now?" asked Scahill after noting that recent legislation in the US Congress opposing the assassination of US citizens abroad without due process received only six votes in the House of Representatives. "We have become a nation of assassins. We have become a nation that is somehow silent in the face of -- or embraces, as polls indicate -- the idea that assassination should be one of the centerpieces of US foreign policy. How dangerous is this? It's a throwback to another era -- an era that I think many Americans thought was behind them. And the most dangerous part of this is the complicity of ordinary people in it." [Note: See below, Part 4 at the 5:30 mark]
April 30, 2012, Common Dreams