Second look at the Amnesty International report on U.S. drone strikes.

From page 14 of the report, on drone attacks circa 2004-2011:

‘Some drone attacks during this period, which reportedly resulted in heavy civilian casualties, may have violated international human rights law or, where applicable, international humanitarian law. These include the killing of at least 82 people, many of them children as young as six, in a madrassa on 30 October 2006 near the border with Afghanistan in Bajaur tribal agency (to date, the deadliest single attack by a US drone in Pakistan) . . . Amnesty International is seriously concerned that these strikes may have resulted in unlawful killings, constituting extrajudicial executions or war crimes’. – p.14

I do find it hard to believe that if, say, the Syrian Air Force had bombed a religious school in neighbouring Turkey (who are openly supporting ‘armed groups’ carrying out attacks inside Syria), killing 82 people in the process, many of them children, Amnesty would be talking about their ‘concerns’ that this ‘may’ have been a Crime.

And I can’t even begin to imagine what their reaction would be if British and American children were killed at school in such an attack, perhaps during a visit by military recruiters i.e. ‘armed groups’ or ‘militants’. But I bet it wouldn’t be anywhere near as anodyne.

But when the Official Bad Guys attack schools . . .

This, just three paragraphs down from the paragraph quoted above, and on the same page:

‘Armed groups based in North Waziristan are responsible for indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on military forces and the general public that have killed and injured thousands of people in Pakistan and Afghanistan over the last decade, some of which constitute war crimes. They have regularly carried out suicide and IED (improvised explosive device) bombings, targeting marketplaces, mosques, schools, and other populated places that either indiscriminately or deliberately caused scores of civilian deaths’. – p.14

They are unambiguously responsible for ‘indiscriminate attacks’ that constitute ‘war crimes’, and have ‘indiscriminately or deliberately caused scores of civilian deaths’. Again, no ifs, buts or maybes. No doubt or nuance.

There is simply no getting away from the fact, the further into the report I read, that the language they use in regards to the actions of the ‘armed groups’, and the conclusions they draw about them, is far harsher than the language they use in regards to the actions of the Obama administration, and the conclusions they draw about them.

(I might also add that, unlike the ‘armed groups’, the Obama administration are lucky enough to get a few paragraphs contextualising their attacks, e.g. North Waziristan is described as ‘a refuge for militants, as well as a training ground and base for attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan’, and a ‘staging ground for armed groups planning attacks on the USA, Europe and other international targets’ – see page 12).

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One Response to Second look at the Amnesty International report on U.S. drone strikes.

  1. Tim Hart says:

    Yes. I think you are right to point out the bias in the language used to report the indigenous terrorist atrocities and those terrorists that launch deadly drones from the safety of their armchairs in the United States. The impartiality of Amnesty, like Human Rights Watch, and other so-called NGOs, is indeed suspect and their ‘output’ should be treated with caution.

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