December 12, 2013
Fifteen people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy, local security officials said on Thursday.
The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.
"An air strike missed its target and hit a wedding car convoy, ten people were killed immediately and another five who were injured died after being admitted to the hospital," one security official said.
Five more people were injured, the officials said.
The United States has stepped up drone strikes as part of a campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), regarded by Washington as the most active wing of the militant network.
Yemen, AQAP’s main stronghold, is among a handful of countries where the United States acknowledges using drones, although it does not comment on the practice.
Human Rights Watch said in a detailed report in August that U.S. missile strikes, including armed drone attacks, have killed dozens of civilians in Yemen.
Stabilizing the country, which is also struggling with southern separatists and northern rebels, is an international priority due to fears of disorder in a state that flanks top oil producer Saudi Arabia and major shipping lanes.
On Monday, missiles fired from a U.S. drone killed at least three people travelling in a car in eastern Yemen.
From the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:
Confirmed drone strikes: 55-65
Civilians killed: 21-56
Children killed: 5
Total killed: 269-389
Possible extra drone strikes: 85-104
(The drone attack) created a disruption in our lives. Our children live in fear. They don’t want to go to school. They don’t want to play outside.
Rafiq Rehman, whose mother was killed in an American drone strike in North Waziristan. Rehman & his two children went before Congress today to demand an end to covert CIA drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia & in other countries.
According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 376 total strikes have taken place in Pakistan, killing up to 926 civilians and as many as 200 children.
May 13, 2013
A Pakistani court has declared that US drone strikes in the country’s tribal belt are illegal and has directed the government to move a resolution against the attacks in the United Nations.
Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, who headed a two-judge bench that heard the petitions, ruled the drone strikes were illegal, inhumane and a violation of the UN charter onhuman rights. The court said the strikes must be declared a war crime as they killed innocent people.
“The government of Pakistan must ensure that no drone strike takes place in the future,” the court said, according to the Press Trust of India. It asked Pakistan’s foreign ministry to table a resolution against the American attacks in the UN.
“If the US vetoes the resolution, then the country should think about breaking diplomatic ties with the US,” the judgment said.
US officials have said the drones target al-Qa’ida and Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s tribal regions who are blamed for cross-border attacks in Afghanistan and say the operations are done with the complicity of Pakistan’s military. Activists say hundreds of civilians are killed as “collateral damage” and that there is no transparency about the operation of the drones.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party is considered frontrunner in this Saturday’s election, this week vowed that he would not tolerate drone attacks on Pakistani soil.
“Drone attacks are against the national sovereignty and a challenge for the country’s autonomy and independence,” he said.
The case was filed last year by the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a legal charity based in Islamabad, on behalf of the families of victims killed in a 17 March 2011 strike on a tribal jirga.
The jirga, a traditional community dispute resolution mechanism, had been called to settle a chromite mining dispute in Datta Khel, North Waziristan. This strike killed more than 50 tribal elders, including a number of government officials. There was strong condemnation of this attack by all quarters in Pakistan including the federal government and Pakistan military.
Shahzad Akbar, lawyer for victims in the case, said: “This is a landmark judgment. Drone victims in Waziristan will now get some justice after a long wait. This judgment will also prove to be a test for the new government: if drone strikes continue and the government fails to act, it will run the risk of contempt of court.”?
Clive Stafford Smith of the London-based group Reprieve, which has supported the case, said: “Today’s momentous decision by the Peshawar High Court shines the first rays of accountability onto the CIA’s secret drone war.”
He added: “For the innocent people killed by U.S. drone strikes, it marks the first time they have been officially acknowledged for who they truly are - civilian victims of American war crimes.”
The US will surely veto any resolution that goes through the UN, just as it has before in the past (ahem, 41 vetoes to defend Israel)… but this case is monumental in examining the US drone war as a war crime because of the innocent civilians who have been killed, not just in Pakistan (between411-884) but in Yemen (between 99-184) & Somalia (up to 15) as well. (Note: These stats don’t include “militants,” which was redefined to include all males of military age in a strike zone, which often includes innocent civilians.)