A woman with the protest group CodePink holds a small s […]
“The U.S. drone program is terrorizing entire civilian populations, nearly half of which are children,” claims a new report by the human rights organization, Reprieve. In Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen — three countries where the U.S. uses lethal drones in the hunt to eliminate al-Qaeda, at least 204 children have been killed by drone strikes over the past decade.
Overall, drone strikes alleged to be a “precise” method of killing terrorists and enemy combatants have resulted in the deaths of at least 1,200 civilians since 2002, according to previous reports by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Reprieve and other human rights organizations now claim that U.S. drone strikes are in violation of the United Nation’s (U.N.) Security Council’s “Six Grave Violations Against Children in Armed Conflict.”
“Documented instances of the killing of children, strikes on schools, and attacks on rescuers mean that the program – which is intended to target ‘militants’ as part of the ‘War on Terror’ – violates three of the U.N. Security Council’s Six Grave Violations Against Children in Armed Conflict,” the report finds.
The United Nations’ Six Grave Violations prohibits: killing or maiming of children; recruitment or use of children as soldiers; sexual violence against children; attacks against schools or hospitals; denial of humanitarian access for children; the abduction of children.
Wedding processions, once festive affairs for Afghans living in Waziristan and the federally-administered tribal areas (FATA), have become brief celebrations because residents fear arbitrary drone strikes. According to “Living Under Drones,” an independent 2012 report by researchers at New York University (NYU) and Stanford, the U.S. military has targeted both wedding and funeral processions.
Because of the Obama administration’s attempts to keep all drone data permanently classified, independent assessments of civilian casualties could be much higher than reported. Any military aged male killed during a drone strike is automatically counted as a “combatant.”
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) became the first member of Congress to openly acknowledge the numbers killed by drones last month, saying “We’ve killed 4,700.” Graham, like a majority of U.S. citizens, remains firmly supportive of drone strikes abroad.
According to a Pew research poll released last month, 56 percent of U.S. citizens support the use of drone strikes in combat zones. Just 26 percent oppose the use of drones, while 18 percent held no opinion.