For Immediate Release
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
Wrong Kind of Intelligence: U.S. Drones Killing Children in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON - KATHY KELLY, JOSHUA BROLLIER
Kelly and Brollier are with Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Kelly said today: “The drone intelligence and all of the other surveillance available to the U.S. military couldn’t help bomber pilots figure out, on March 1, 2011, that the nine people they believed to be insurgents, on a mountainside in the Pech Valley, were actually children. An article reporting General Petraeus’s apology for the tragedy quoted a spokesperson who said that four of the nine boys killed were seven years old, three were eight, one was nine years old and one was twelve. One child was also wounded. He said the children were gathering wood under a tree in the mountains near a village in the district.
“Zekirullah, a young Afghan friend of mine, is 15 years old. He rises at 2:00 a.m. several mornings each week and rides his donkey for six hours to reach a mountainside where he can collect wood — scrub, brush and twigs. He loads the wood onto his donkey and then journeys home where he and his family stack the wood on top of their home. They don’t have appliances to heat the home, and even if they did the villagers only get electricity for two hours a day, generally between 1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Families rely on their small children to go out and collect fuel for heat during the harsh winters and for cooking year round. Tiny laborers, wanting to help their families survive, mean no harm to the United States. They’re not surging toward us, trying to threaten us. They are children, not unlike our own.
“But in Kunar, this week, they were slaughtered. Their bodies were dismembered. They lay in pools of blood until family members realized that their children would never return. …
“Drone usage will never help us understand impoverishment, bereavement, terror and pain experienced by Afghan villagers bearing the brunt of our wars. And yet, this is the intelligence we need. As our wealth and productivity are poured into warfare in Afghanistan, we can no longer imagine being able to adequately serve the needs of children here in the United States.”
Kelly will be going with a delegation to Afghanistan in mid-March. Brollier was in Afghanistan in May 2010.
Kelly was one of 14 people recently tried for protests at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where many drone operations killing people in Afghanistan and other countries are run from. See: lasvegassun.com and nevadadesertexperience.org
Washington Post from Feb. 20: “Afghan officials allege that 65 civilians were killed in U.S. military operation”
And from the Washington Post on Feb. 21: “To the shock of President Hamid Karzai’s aides, Gen. David H. Petraeus suggested Sunday at the presidential palace that Afghans caught up in a coalition attack in northeastern Afghanistan might have burned their own children to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties, according to two participants at the meeting.”
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