I wasn't scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, will I be next?
- Nabeela, eight-year-old granddaughter of US drone strike victim Mamana Bibi
So begins a new report released today by Amnesty International that details the expansive civilian deaths caused by 9 of the 45 CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. One of the alleged victims was a 68-year-old grandmother blown to pieces while farming with her grandchildren. The world is outraged as a result of the findings, and many are calling for an impartial investigation into US drone practices.
Harrowing first-hand accounts of civilian casualties emerged in the report. Aside from the killing of the grandmother, there is another particularly disturbing story of a tent full of civilians that was gunned down suddenly - and then again when nearby civilians came to help the wounded. The tent strikes allegedly killed 22 people, including a 14-year-old boy. Locals describe the scene as just one example of the graphic, senseless violence that caused them to live their lives in fear of arbitrary attacks.
Parents of children traumatized by watching their loved ones dismembered say they are struggling to continue normal lives with their families when they could be attacked at random. All find it near impossible to discuss the drones openly, afraid that they will be punished for speaking out by the Taliban, the US, or other armed groups. As a result, no aid is available for the civilian survivors of targeted killings:
It is only the poor villagers who help each other, we have been left to God to help us. No one else is giving us any assistance.
- resident of Zowi Sidgi, speaking about a drone strike on 6 July 2012 that killed 18 people
The issue is more than a purely humanitarian one. Not only do many argue that al-Qaeda's recruiting has been greatly strengthened by drone campaigns, but another report released today by Human Rights Watch found that 2 of the 6 drone strikes it examined in Yemen were in direct violation of international law, while the other 4 likely violated agreed-upon laws of war.
It is a particularly difficult time for these allegations to emerge against the US, considering President Obama almost attacked Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad as a punitive measure for violating international law only a month ago. The US is aware of the drone reports but has yet to respond.