Letter signed by Alice Walker, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf, Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, Tom Hayden, Patch Adams, other prominent Americans; 3,000 petition signatures from US citizens delivered to Acting Ambassador Richard Hoagland;
Hoagland disputes allegations U.S. drone strikes target civilian rescuers
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan-3 October 2012-Today a group of US peace advocates delivered a letter to the US embassy in Islamabad signed by twenty-six leading US authors, film directors, professors, activists, and a Nobel Peace laureate, calling upon US authorities to end US drone strikes in Pakistan, and to bring US drone strike policy into compliance with US and international law. The letter, which was organized by the US group Just Foreign Policy can be found online at http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1312.
The letter cites the 474 to 884 civilian deaths caused by US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, including 176 children. It also cites attacks on civilian rescuers and the state of constant fear experienced by civilians in the area where drone strikes are conducted, as documented by a Stanford/NYU study released last week.
Petitions from 3,000 additional US citizens were also delivered at the embassy calling for an end to U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.
During the meeting with Acting US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland, Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy challenged Hoagland to respond to reports that CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have targeted civilian rescuers, and assertions by international law experts that such targeting is clearly a war crime under international humanitarian law, regardless of whether US drone strikes in Pakistan are otherwise legal.
Hoagland responded, asserting that there are never any deliberate strikes against civilian rescuers and that he has never in recent times seen any deliberate strike on rescuers. Hoagland has been Deputy Chief of Mission at US Embassy Islamabad since February 27, 2011.
Naiman followed up by pointing out that even if civilian rescuers were not deliberately targeted, the practice of "secondary" or "follow-up" drone strikes intrinsically puts civilian rescuers at risk. Naiman urged Hoagland to follow up on recent reports by NYU/Stanford Law and Columbia Law/CIVIC, as well as earlier reports by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism/The Independent and the New York Times indicating that civilian rescuers had been targeted, and issue a public statement in response to the allegations, noting that this would increase the transparency of the policy. Hoagland agreed that investigation by the Embassy followed by a public statement would increase the transparency of the policy and that that would be a good thing, without committing the Embassy to doing so.
"When Americans found out what the war in Afghanistan was, they turned against it," said Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. When Americans find out that the drone strike policy in Pakistan is killing and terrorizing civilians and hitting civilian rescuers, they will turn against the drone strike policy in Pakistan as well."
The US peace activists who delivered the letter and petitions are in Pakistan as part of a delegation organized by the US peace organization CodePink. While in Pakistan, the delegates are meeting with members of Pakistani civil society as well as US and Pakistani officials to help bring about an end to US drone strikes in Pakistan. The delegation plans to travel to Waziristan for a peace march and to meet with drone strike victims this weekend.
Letter: Prominent Americans Call for End to U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan
Just Foreign Policy petition: End US Drone Strikes in Pakistan
Just Foreign Policy is a nonprofit nonpartisan advocacy organization that works to reform US foreign policy so that it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. To learn more, visit our website at http://www.justforeignpolicy.org.<--break->