CODEPINK Delegation Expresses Concern over Impact of Drone Attacks
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

CODEPINK, an anti-war organization that led a delegation of 34 peace activists on a trip to Pakistan last month, hosted an event in San Francisco to discuss the experiences of its members. The event was held on the eve of Veteran’s Day - November 12 - at the Veterans War Memorial Building in San Francisco.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK and the human rights group Global Exchange, shared her experience with the people in Pakistan’s remote tribal area. The delegation had an opportunity to address a public rally in a remote town near the South Waziristan border.

Flanked by members of the delegation holding pictures of children who have been killed in drone attacks, Medea delivered an apology for the sufferings of the people. She said: "We are so grateful that you understand there are Americans in solidarity with you …"

Medea also spoke about the difficulties in arranging the peace delegation’s visit to Pakistan. There was delay by the Pakistan embassy to issue visas. While in Pakistan the US delegation was advised by the security officials not to join the anti-drone rally because they had information that there will be a terrorist attack on them. However, Media said while visiting the remote area “we were more scared of a drone attack.”

Dianne Budd, a medical doctor, was also part of the delegation. She recalled meeting one Pakistani man who told her: “We are the people who do not matter; our voices cannot be heard over here. We are lucky for you to be here, and we want everyone to come fearlessly here.”

Toby Blome, another member of the US peace delegation, related the story of Karim Khan who lost his son and brother in a drone attack. She asked Karim Khan if he would use drone technology if he could have it. Karim Khan answered without hesitation. “Of course, I’d use them to shoot down other drones.” Toby then asked him if he would ever attack the U.S. with them. Karim Khan replied: “Absolutely not, those are innocent people over there.”

Toby Blome also said that while in Pakistan, she learned that some militants’ names are used multiple times in news reports to justify drone attack. One Pakistani told her a militant’s name was used three times in the media, and exclaimed, “How many times can one man die?”

Medea Benjamin observed, “Pakistani people are living a life of fear under our drones as well as under the Taliban and their rising numbers.

“We see most people join the Taliban not out of ideology but out of despair and revenge,” she added.

A question/answer session was followed by the briefing of the three peace delegation members. Samina Sundas, Founding Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice was moderator of the Q&A session. Many from the audience expressed concern over the domestic use of drones.

This month CODEPINK is celebrating “10 years of peaceful troublemaking.” A short movie, showing CODEPINK’s ten-year protest activities, drew wide applause.



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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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