On October 4th, 2014 citizens around the world attended demonstrations against the use of drones, satellites, and ground stations for surveillance and killing. It was a day known as the Global Day of Action Against Drones, with events that connected the international community by the palpable threat that lowers the threshold to war and diminishes international security: drones. On this fall morning I was outside the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C with a group of activists dedicated to the anti-drone movement. We held up signs saying, “When drones fly, children die!” and passed out pamphlets with information about the horrors of drones. Some people were intrigued, some were confused, and others were in disbelief. All eyes were focused on the animated protestors of killer drones.
Taking turns on the mic, we described to perplexed tourists the raw truth that United States killer drones have killed 2,379 people in Pakistan alone. We explained that just behind the museum walls was a glorified drone exhibit which failed to reveal that the very same technology was responsible for killing at least 200 children in Pakistan. We illustrated that this number could be represented in the amount of children that entered the doors of the exhibit that very same day. We spoke about the fear the United States has instilled halfway across the globe where families no longer trust blue skies. We described how killer drones fail to make our citizens safer, but rather increase anti-American sentiment. We called for a worldwide ban of these weapons that undermine global stability.
Meanwhile in Germany, multiple actions were occurring from “Fly Kites, Not Drones” in Dresden to the “Rally Against Drones” outside Africa Command (AFRICOM), where so-called “targeted killings” in Somalia are coordinated from. At the very same time people were gathering in London to collect signatures against drones while groups in Jeju Island, South Korean activists held educational events on how drones violate human rights. The Global Day of Action Against Drones exemplified how global citizens embrace the idea that one’s identity transcends geographic and political borders. With the awareness of the strong interdependence of individuals and systems there is a certain sense of accountability. The international community must be held accountable to fuel the effort needed to stop drone warfare and invasive drone surveillance. Our rights as human beings depend on it.
Now two weeks later, the Obama administration is launching drone attacks in Iraq. Already 18 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in an airstrike in Iraq’s Anbar province. The fact remains that decades of bombing in Iraq has allowed ISIS to flourish. Drone strikes that inevitably will kill more innocent people will only strength ISIS’s propaganda campaign. This is why Obama administration’s war plans and the use of drones in Iraq and Syria are destined to fail. Meanwhile the 400th drone strike in Pakistan occurred on October 11th, contributing to a grand total of 2,379 drone victims killed. Shockingly, only 12% of the casualties have been identified as members of al-Qaida.
As a young American student I am appalled by the war-mongers who continue to drop bombs, and use killer drones in over seven countries over a six year period. I will not stand by as my government continues to fuel the military-industrial complex that endangers the lives of so many. As a result, I am involved with a group of young activists with CODEPINK that launched a Youth Manifesto declaring that there is No Future in War. I urge my peers to take action against the individuals that use the drone industry to fill their pockets and demand that there is greater transparency on the real motives United States engages in military interventions.
We deserve better. The world deserves better. And together we can reclaim our future.
Anastasia Taylor is a current student at Northeastern University and intern at CODEPINK. She is passionate about international human rights and hopes to be involved in empowering women through international sustainable development after graduation.