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Inquire is an award-winning magazine of inquisitive journalism and intelligent photography. It specializes in investigative reporting, compelling reportage, multimedia, interviews, profiles and in-depth photojournalism from around our world.

Inquire is a magazine for the inquisitive thinker and for those who are curious and concerned about the world around them. It’s for those who enjoy asking questions as much as they enjoy finding answers. Inquire is a groundbreaking magazine for the digital age and now available as a fully interactive app for the Apple iPad & iPad Mini.

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What A Bloody Holiday: War Tourism In Sri Lanka

Since the end of its civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has been criticised for its handling of thousands of Tamils displaced during the conflict and has faced a barrage of war crimes accusations. Now the government has laid out plans for promoting tourism at the expense of those who suffered most.

A Special Report by Gaanashree Wood

Deep in the jungle of the northern Mullaitivu district of Northern Sri Lanka, is the former LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) operations hub, now a ghost town. Visitors are offered a guided tour of the hub which comprises of a 3 story underground bunker, a firing range, a film hall, a semi-underground garage and a funeral parlour for fallen comrades. The package also includes a tour of the shipyard where the tigers held the decaying remains of a Jordanian cargo ship, Farah III.

Although these guides provide a rare glance into the inner workings of the LTTE, the majority of tourists are missing the “bigger picture”. What is glaringly absent are the details of the suffering faced by the Tamils who lived in fear of the LTTE and the aftermath of 30 years of civil war that has destroyed the social and economic infrastructure of the region. Instead the visitors, mainly Sinhalese seem intent on seeing war relics rather than truly comprehend the devastation that took place here.

“…most signs are in Sinhala only, little English and no Tamil. To many this seems to say to the Tamils, this isn’t really your country. One of the damaging attitudes that they would say triggered the war decades ago.” The BBC writes.



(Image Credit: James Gordon Losangeles via Flickr)

Since the end of the war, the military has taken an active role in the economy of the North and East by posting various checkpoints to control transportation, annexing civilian land and establishing High Security Zone restrictions. Schools have been shut down too, endangering children’s education. Furthermore, fishing restrictions have been placed on fishermen. It has been reported that over 200 families have been displaced in several towns in Mannar district.

Beaches in Trincomalee and Batticola are being commandeered by the government who are forcing the people off the land and denying them access to the beaches, seriously jeopardizing their futures in order to build resorts, villas and hotels. It seems that in its rush to improve tourist numbers, it has begun appropriating Tamil areas and landmarks.

The Mannar peninsula, which consists of MannarTown, and several smaller townships, including Talaimannar and Pesalai, were LTTE strongholds and caught in the middle of the civil war for at least three decades. The Navy runs a lucrative boat service for tourists to Mannar, preventing the Local Government officials or local businessmen from engaging in such activities.

There has also been active promotion of Sri Lanka at various international travel fairs. The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB) under the guidance of the Ministry of Economic Development recently participated in an international travel fair in Chengdu, Western China. These have been part of the government’s efforts to promote Sri Lanka’s tourism industry. The Tourism Board plans to take part in another 6 international travel fairs in China alone. Along with the respective Sri Lankan embassies, the SLTPB has held successful tourism campaigns in India, Russia and Kazakhstan.

On 5th September 2011, the Ministry of Economic Development launched the Tourism Development Strategy which will last from 2011 to 2016. The objective of the new strategy is to achieve a target number of 2.5 million tourists by 2016. The World Bank got behind Sri Lanka in its initiative to revamp its image to bolster tourist numbers. However, there are no clear or definite figures of how of this money has been allocated towards building hotels and towards housing the displaced.

This increased tourism has led to repercussions for the environment and this in turn affects the locals and their livelihoods. The issue of poor environmental management, referring to the establishment of camp sites within the country’s nature reserves has been raised despite this not being permitted under the Flora & Fauna Act. Furthermore the Sri Lankan government has accused NGOs of attempting to limit Sri Lanka’s growth, under the façade of concerns over developments in the name of tourism. There is serious failure to address the plight of the locals or even acknowledge the suffering of the thousands who still remain displaced or are missing.

Many have criticized the Sri Lankan government of portioning significant amounts of investment and money from tourism to its defence budget. Sri Lanka continues to expand its already vast military in order to maintain order and control over Tamil territories. Despite accusations by the international community of war crimes, this has not deterred tourists from the West and India from making Sri Lanka their holiday destination.



(April 9th 2008. The aftermath of a Tamil Tiger suicide bombing in Sri Lanka. Image Credit: T Child via Flickr)

 

 


 

Why Is Palestine Running Dry?

The Palestinian capital Ramallah has greater annual rainfall than the English capital, London. So why is Palestine’s water running out? A special report by Yara al Wazir.

Another year has passed and 1 billion people in the world still don’t have access to clean water. The struggle for manhood’s most basic resource has earned a day in its honour.

In the Middle East, specifically the Levant, we are no strangers to water outages, but for Palestine, a country whose cities enjoy more rain than London; the region’s most valued resource cannot be side-lined much longer without the risk of calamity.

What is usually seen as a symbol of good luck has turned into the epitome of despair in Palestinian cities, where the water usage per person falls 30% below the recommended amount by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of 100 litres. Conversely, Israelis enjoy 420% more than Palestinians, and three-times the recommended amount by the WHO.

In addition to controlling all the major water resources in the West bank, this cap is controlled by rejecting permits to build water wells, if submitted by Palestinians, or for operation in the Palestinian regions. In turn, Palestinians resort to drilling for their own wells, which leaves them with foul water. Without the technology to build efficient, sustainable water wells and pumps, the cycle will continue to repeat itself in the West Bank until the Settlers take over, or Israel eases it’s blockade on the Palestinians.

Organisations such as EWash and Visualising Palestine are no strangers to pointing out the injustice and promoting healthy water usage.

Although rainwater is abundant, the occupying Israeli Defence Force destroyed 34 rainwater cisterns and 21 wells in 2011 alone. The decrease in availability of water impacted the economy, with production rates of basic amenities such as locally produced juices and agriculture diminishing. Palestinians succumbing to unsanitary water affects their health directly, with increased rates of diarrhoea.

Left with no other option than buying Israeli goods, the scale tips in Israel’s favour as water transforms itself into money trickling into their economy.

It’s not just Palestinians who are suffering the pinch of Israel’s effects on the water supplies in the region. According to cables released by Wikileaks, in 2007, 900 residents of the Mafraq region in Jordan were “infected by a nonfatal parasite found in their water tanks”. Repairs of the water pipe that allegedly caused this issue were halted due to funding. Over one hundred thousand Syrians have now taken refuge in the makeshift refugee camp set up in Mafraq this past summer. Many have criticized the living conditions of that very refugee camp. Two years later, another cable published in 2009 showed that oil and sewage had made its way into the canal that supplies Amman with “one-third of its water needs…Jordanian authorities determined that the contamination originated from Israel…” Although the reasons for this contamination were never actually determined, it was suspected that they were caused by rainfall. In what can be seen as an admission of guilt, Israel agreed to compensate the Jordanian government. Perhaps they realized that they didn’t own enough tear gas to stop the Arab version of Erin Brockovich.

Land, energy, and power have been at the forefront of the region’s most recent wars over the past decade. From Iraq to Iran, to the power struggle fuelled Arab Spring, the region is not immune from a war over water. The late King Hussein of Jordan identified water as the only reason his country would go to war with a Jewish State. Following the signing of the 1079 Israeli-Egyptian peace treat, Anwar Sadat immediately turned to a sour note stating Egypt will “never go to war again, except to protect its water resources.”

Over half the Arab nations suffer from water scarcity. The top 10 countries in the world affected by water scarcity are in fact Arab, with Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait taking the top three. Israel takes the eighth position.

Water outages won’t teach anyone how to conserve water, it merely forces them to ‘stock up’ on water and store it in tanks. Instead, we need to address the crisis from a human perspective to sustain our futures and our economies. Instilling core water-conservation values in our younger generation, simultaneously investing in sustainable energy-efficient desalination technologies must become as vital in government policy as how much of Sharia law they want to implement.

Palestinian by blood, Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian and environmental activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. This article is brought to you in association with Inquire Magazine’s partners at The International Political Forum.

~~~~~

An aside: I was rereading some of the archived articles that are found here and decided to see if the water situation in Palestine had improved. Unfortunately just the opposite has occurred as is evident from this 2/2019 article about the Israelis cutting off water to Palestinian Villages. . As I sit here in Colorado at the beginning of the spring skiing season at Arapahoe, my wife doing google searches for great prices on the latest North Face jackets, horrible events continue to take place through out the world. A new NorthFace jacket arrives in the mail, we go skiing for several hours each day, go out to dinner, visit friends, and elsewhere in the world people are suffering at the hands of deliberately cruel government policies. And that includes our US government.

Six months later I am continuing this post. Here it is Fall once again in Colorado and I am looking forward to the ski season. I still have my NorthFace ski jacket my wife bought on sale last spring. Lucky me. BUT ... here I will continue my rant about nothing getting better in the world.

Take drone attacks which the US has been doing for years now in the Middle East, Afganistan and Pakistan. Reread the Inquire Magazine article titled Terror in the Sky. In 2017 reporting from the United States said that the CIA is expanding its operations in Afghanistan, running Afghan militias to “hunt and kill” Taleban and “poised” to start flying armed drones. Just recently in 2019 a US-backed air raid conducted by the Afghan security forces accidentally hit farmland in Nangarhar province killing about 30 civilians and injuring 40 others, while at least 20 people were killed in Zabul province in a suicide car bomb blast claimed by the Taliban group. The article goes on to say Afghan officials said the drone attack on Wednesday night was aimed at destroying a hideout used by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group fighters, but it accidentally targeted farmers near a field in Wazir Tangi area of Khogyani district in Nangarhar province.

Each article from the 2013 archived content from Inquire Magazine can be updated without any or very little positive change. See this opening paragraph on an article about Foreign Travel Advice for Sri Lanka from this past spring time. Travelers to Sri Lanka can be justifiably concerned after the Easter Sunday bomb blasts in churches and luxury hotels in the capital, Colombo, which killed at least 310 people and injured more than 450. While it appears local authorities in Sri Lanka were aware of threats to public safety, there were few warnings to foreigners. However, that has all changed and the UK government is now warning on its Foreign Travel Advice website that “terrorists are very likely to carry out attacks in Sri Lanka.”

Well I could continue, but you get my point.

~~~~~

 

UPDATE

For Six Months, These Palestinian Villages Had Running Water. Israel Put a Stop to It

Amira Hass Feb 22, 2019 | ww.haaretz.com/

For six months, Palestinian villagers living on West Bank land that Israel deems a closed firing range saw their dream of running water come true. Then the Civil Administration put an end to it

The dream that came true, in the form of a two-inch water line, was too good to be true. For about six months, 12 Palestinian West Bank villages in the South Hebron Hills enjoyed clean running water. That was until February 13, when staff from the Israeli Civil Administration, accompanied by soldiers and Border Police and a couple of bulldozers, arrived.

The troops dug up the pipes, cut and sawed them apart and watched the jets of water that spurted out. About 350 cubic meters of water were wasted. Of a 20 kilometer long (12 mile) network, the Civil Administration confiscated remnants and sections of a total of about 6 kilometers of piping. They loaded them on four garbage trucks emblazoned with the name of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan on them.

The demolition work lasted six and a half hours. Construction of the water line network had taken about four months. It had been a clear act of civil rebellion in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King against one of the most brutal bans that Israel imposes on Palestinian communities in Area C, the portion of the West Bank under full Israeli control. It bars Palestinians from hooking into existing water infrastructure.

The residential caves in the Masafer Yatta village region south of Hebron and the ancient cisterns used for collecting rainwater confirm the local residents’ claim that their villages have existed for decades, long before the founding of the State of Israel. In the 1970s, Israel declared some 30,000 dunams (7,500 acres) in the area Firing Range 918.

In 1999, under the auspices of the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the army expelled the residents of the villages and demolished their structures and water cisterns. The government claimed that the residents were trespassing on the firing range, even though these were their lands and they have lived in the area long before the West Bank was captured by Israel.

When the matter was brought to the High Court of Justice, the court approved a partial return to the villages but did not allow construction or hookups to utility infrastructure. Mediation attempts failed, because the state was demanding that the residents leave their villages and live in the West Bank town of Yatta and come to graze their flocks and work their land only on a few specific days per year.

But the residents continued to live in their homes, risking military raids and demolition action — including the demolition of public facilities such as schools, medical clinics and even toilets. They give up a lot to maintain their way of life as shepherds, but could not forgo water.

“The rainy season has grown much shorter in recent years, to only about 45 days a year,” explained Nidal Younes, the chairman of the Masafer Yatta council of villages. “In the past, we didn’t immediately fill the cisterns with rainwater, allowing them to be washed and cleaned first. Since the amount of rain has decreased, people stored water right away. It turns out the dirty water harmed the sheep and the people.”

Because the number of residents has increased, even in years with abundant rain, at a certain stage the cisterns ran dry and the shepherds would bring in water by tractor. They would haul a 4 cubic meter (140 square foot) tank along the area’s narrow, poor roads — which Israel does not permit to have widened and paved. “The water has become every family’s largest expense,” Younes said
In the village of Halawa, he pointed out Abu Ziyad, a man of about 60. “I always see him on a tractor, bringing in water or setting out to bring back water.”

Sometimes the tractors overturn and drivers are injured. Tires quickly wear out and precious work days go to waste. “We are drowning in debt to pay for the transportation of water,” Abu Ziyad said.

In 2017, the Civil Administration and the Israeli army closed and demolished the roads to the villages, which the council had earlier managed to widen and rebuild. That had been done to make it easier to haul water in particular, but also more generally to give the villages better access.

The right-wing Regavim non-profit group “exposed” the great crime committed in upgrading the roads and pressured the Civil Administration and the army to rip them up. “The residents’ suffering increased,” Younes remarked. “We asked ourselves how to solve the water problem.”

The not very surprising solution was installing pipes to carry the water from the main water line in the village of Al-Tuwani, through privately owned lands of the other villages. “I checked it out, looking to see if there was any ban on laying water lines on private land and couldn’t find one,” Younes said.

Work done by volunteers

The plumbing work was done by volunteers, mostly at night and without heavy machinery, almost with their bare hands. Ali Debabseh, 77, of the village of Khalet al-Daba, recalled the moment when he opened the spigot installed near his home and washed his face with running water. “I wanted to jump for joy. I was as happy as a groom before his wedding.”

Umm Fadi of the village of Halawa also resorted to the word “joy” in describing the six months when she had a faucet near the small shack in which she lives. “The water was clean, not brown from rust or dust. I didn’t need to go as far as the cistern to draw water, didn’t need to measure every drop.”

Now it’s more difficult to again get used to being dependent on water dispensed from tanks.

The piping and connections and water meters were bought with a 100,000 euro ($113,000) European donation. Instead of paying 40 shekels ($11) per cubic meter for water brought in with water tanks, the residents paid only about 6 shekels for the same amount of running water. Suddenly they not only saved money, but also had more precious time.

The water lines also could have saved European taxpayers money. A European project to help the residents remain in their homes had been up and running since 2011, providing annual funding of 120,000 euros to cover the cost of buying and transporting drinking water during the three summer months for the residents (but not their livestock).

The cost was based on a calculation involving consumption of 750 liters per person a month, far below the World Health Organization’s recommended quantity. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 residents. The project made things much easier for such a poor community, which continued to pay out of its own pocket for the water for some 40,000 sheep and for the residents’ drinking water during the remainder of the year. Now that the Civil Administration has demolished the water lines, the European donor countries may be forced to once again pay for the high price of transporting water during the summer months, at seven times the cost.

Umm Fadi of the village of Halawa also resorted to the word “joy” in describing the six months when she had a faucet near the small shack in which she lives. “The water was clean, not brown from rust or dust. I didn’t need to go as far as the cistern to draw water, didn’t need to measure every drop.”

Now it’s more difficult to again get used to being dependent on water dispensed from tanks.

The piping and connections and water meters were bought with a 100,000 euro ($113,000) European donation. Instead of paying 40 shekels ($11) per cubic meter for water brought in with water tanks, the residents paid only about 6 shekels for the same amount of running water. Suddenly they not only saved money, but also had more precious time.

The water lines also could have saved European taxpayers money. A European project to help the residents remain in their homes had been up and running since 2011, providing annual funding of 120,000 euros to cover the cost of buying and transporting drinking water during the three summer months for the residents (but not their livestock).

The cost was based on a calculation involving consumption of 750 liters per person a month, far below the World Health Organization’s recommended quantity. There are between 1,500 and 2,000 residents. The project made things much easier for such a poor community, which continued to pay out of its own pocket for the water for some 40,000 sheep and for the residents’ drinking water during the remainder of the year. Now that the Civil Administration has demolished the water lines, the European donor countries may be forced to once again pay for the high price of transporting water during the summer months, at seven times the cost.

On February 13, Younes heard the large group of forces sent by the Civil Administration beginning to demolish the water lines near the village of Al-Fakhit. He rushed to the scene and began arguing with the soldiers and Civil Administration staff.

Border Police arrests

Border Police officers arrested him, handcuffed him and put him in a jeep. His colleague, the head of the Al-Tuwani council, Mohammed al-Raba’i, also approached those carrying out the demolition work to protest. “But they arrested me after I said two words. At least Nidal managed to say a lot,” he said with a smile that concealed sadness.

Two teams carried out the demolition work, one proceeding toward the village of Jinbah, to the southeast, the second advanced in the direction of Al-Tuwani, to the northwest. They also demolished the access road leading to the village of Sha’ab al-Butum, so that even if Bahis wanted to transport water again, he would have had to make a large detour to do so.

Younes was shocked to spot a man named Marco among the team carrying out the demolition. “I remembered him from when I was a child, from the 1980s when he was an inspector for the Civil Administration. In 1985, he supervised the demolition of houses in our village, Jinbah — twice, during Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr [marking the end of the Ramadan holy month],” he said.

“They knew him very well in all the villages in the area because he attended all the demolitions. The name Marco was a synonym for an evil spirit. Our parents who saw him demolish their homes, have died. He disappeared, and suddenly he has reappeared,” Younes remarked.

Marco is Marco Ben-Shabbat, who has lead the Civil Administration’s supervision unit for the past 10 years. Speaking to a reporter from the Israel Hayom daily who accompanied the forces carrying out the demolition work, Ben-Shabbat said: “The [water line] project was not carried out by the individual village. The Palestinian Authority definitely put a project manager here and invested a lot of money.”
More precisely, it was European governments that did so.

From all of the villages where the Civil Administration destroyed water lines, the Jewish outposts of Mitzpeh Yair and Avigayil can be seen on the hilltops. Although they are unauthorized and illegal even according to lenient Israeli settlement laws, the outposts were connected almost immediately to water and electricity grids and paved roads lead to them.

“I asked why they demolished the water lines,” Nidal Younes recalled. He said one of the Border Police officers answered him, in English, telling him it was done "to replace Arabs with Jews."

 


 

Exposed: Slavery, Trafficking & Exploitation In Sweden

Over the past two years at least 47 Cameroonians have gone to Sweden to work in tree plantation in the northern forests. They were all expecting to return to their families with enough money to pay off debts, invest and start a better life. Instead, most of them are stranded in Sweden, homeless, helpless and heartbroken. The companies responsible are now being exposed. 

One Swedish company who have been exposed, Skogsnicke AB, sent a formal offer of employment to the Swedish Migration Board, which then granted the workers permission to enter the country. The same document, promising a monthly salary of 18,500 Swedish crowns ($2,800), and another 6000 ($900) per month for expenses, was then sent to the Cameroonians. With this salary, the workers were going to earn enough money to cover all costs and still return with the equivalent of three years’ wages in Cameroon. But such documents are not legally binding, and the employer was free to change the conditions. So when they arrived in Sweden they were given a new document: the real contract, with a much lower commission salary. At that point, when they were badly in debt due to flights, expenses and visas, they had no choice but to sign it.

“It is disgraceful that we have laws in Sweden that enable businesses to deceive their workers in this way, without risking anything. And this type of legislation exists in many other countries within the European Union. It allows employers to take advantage of people,” said Swedish journalist Ali Fegan who, along with Lars-Göran Svensson, brought this case national attention through an investigative programme on Swedish Television.

The Cameroonians had to work 10-12 hours per day, six days a week. But with the new commission salary of 0.2288 Swedish crowns per planted tree sapling, it still did not make them enough money. Their hard work did not amount to more than 6000 Swedish crowns (around $900 USD) per month under the new contract. To make matters worse, they were only given three months of work instead of the promised six months, had no expenses paid, were overcharged for accommodation and charged for a union membership that did not exist. The full salary for the summer would not even get them back to Cameroon.

 

With no knowledge of the country they were in, the workers were at the mercy of their employer. They had no way to voice their complaints, and so they kept working. It was by chance that one of the 2012 workers, Ndjomo Denis, made friends with the retired teacher Erik on the bus from Stockholm to Umeå. They kept in touch during the summer, and so Erik was the first to find out about the deteriorating working conditions. Apart from the changed salary, the workers were also ill treated. They were not given enough food for the hard physical work in the forest, and were forced to sleep on the floor with up to fifteen people in one room.

Erik contacted the local union who opened an investigation. They found the commission contract completely unacceptable, and started negotiating with the company about a new deal for the Cameroonians. But the negotiations continued for many months after they had stopped working, leaving the workers stranded in Sweden, waiting for their money. In March 2013, when the parties finally reached an agreement, it did not get the workers much. The compensation of 10,000 Swedish crowns per person will not pay for their flights or cover the debts for them and their families. But there is nothing more the union can do for them. The figures in the employment offer had no legal bearing, leaving the union unable to demand the salary the workers were expecting. The money they did receive in the end was just the difference between the commission salary and minimum wage.

Since the case emerged into public attention, there has been talk from politicians about changing the laws that caused this situation. But there is little to be done for the people who are suffering from it today. They are still in Sweden, they are still in debt, they are still homeless.

“Their future is not looking bright. The legal and bureaucratic means to rectify this have been exhausted. The only way out of this situation is if another Swedish company hires them for next season to let them work and earn the money they once came for, or if the fundraising efforts that are starting now can eventually help them,” said Ali Fegan.

A Special Report by Boel Marcks von Würtemberg. This article is brought to you in association with Inquire Magazine’s partners at The International Political Forum.

Content composed with the instant Online HTML editor. Please purchase a HTMLg license to remove the promotional messages from the edited documents.

 


 

A Terror in the Sky

Reporting by Chris Wood

The near constant presence of CIA drones “terrorizes” much of the civilian population of Pakistan’s tribal areas according to a new report.

Men, women, and children are subjected to almost constant trauma – including fear of attack, severe anxiety, powerlessness, insomnia, and high levels of stress – says a nine month investigation into CIA drone strikes in Pakistan by two top US university law schools. More than 130 “victims, witnesses, and experts” were interviewed in Pakistan for the study.

A number of those eyewitnesses corroborated the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s recent findings – that rescuers have been deliberately targeted by the CIA in the tribal areas.

The new study heavily challenges US government claims that few civilians have died in CIA drone strikes, saying that there is “significant evidence” to the contrary.

As the report notes in its executive summary: “In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false.”

The joint report, Living Under Drones, is by Stanford University’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, and New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic. The 165-page study looks at key aspects of the CIA’s drone programme – its legal basis, how strikes are reported, their strategic implications – and how civilians are affected.

Psychiatrists and doctors report a deeply stressed population in parts of the tribal areas. In their ninth year of bombing, US drones now fly almost constantly over towns such as Mir Ali and Miranshah.

One psychiatrist told researchers that many of his patients experience “anticipatory anxiety,” a constant fear that they might come under attack. The report goes on to note that:

Interviewees described emotional breakdowns, running indoors or hiding when drones appear above, fainting, nightmares, and other intrusive thoughts, hyper startled reactions to loud noises, outbursts of anger or irritability, and loss of appetite and other physical symptoms. Interviewees also reported suffering from insomnia and other sleep disturbances, which medical health professionals in Pakistan stated were prevalent.

Pakistani MP Akhunzada Chitan reported that when he visits Waziristan to see his family, people “often complain that they wake up in the middle of the night screaming” because of the drones.

The Stanford/ NYU report also examines in detail three Obama administration drone strikes. Multiple eye-witness reports of civilian deaths are accompanied by “corroborating evidence from other independent investigations, media accounts, and submissions to the United Nations, and courts in the UK and Pakistan.”

In total, more than 50 civilians are likely to have died in these three strikes alone, the report concludes. Anonymous US officials were still claiming recently that civilian deaths have only been in “single digits” during Obama’s entire four years in office.


The NYU/ Stanford report also independently corroborates a major Bureau investigation with the Sunday Times, which found that multiple CIA strikes between 2009 and summer 2011 had deliberately targeted rescuers and funeral-goers. Citing a number of eyewitness accounts, the study notes:

Secondary strikes have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue, and even inhibited the provision of emergency medical assistance from humanitarian workers.

Hayatullah Ayoub Khan was driving in North Waziristan when the car ahead of him was damaged in a drone strike. The report says that as Khan approached on foot to see if he could help “someone inside yelled that he should leave immediately because another missile would likely strike.” As he returned to his car, a second missile killed whoever had been inside.

CIA Drone Strikes in Pakistan 2004 – 2012

Total US strikes: 349
Obama strikes: 297
Total reported killed: 2,587-3,363
Civilians reported killed: 474-884
Children reported killed: 176
Total reported injured: 1,243-1,390
For the latest Pakistan strike data click here.

A second anonymised man told researchers of an attack on the home of his in-laws: “Other people came to check what had happened, they were looking for the children in the beds and then a second drone strike hit those people.”

People now avoid assisting victims of drone strikes, researchers were told. One “leading humanitarian organization” said that it insists on a six-hour mandatory delay before its workers are allowed to assist, meaning it is “only the locals, the poor, [who] will pick up the bodies of loved ones.”

When seven of Faheem Qureshi’s family and friends died in Obama’s first ever drone strike, he believes he only survived because he was able to walk out of the smoking rubble of the house unaided.

“Usually, when a drone strikes and people die, nobody comes near the bodies for half an hour because they fear another missile will strike,” Qureshi told researchers.

Funeral practices have also changed in the tribal areas because of fears of CIA attack, according to a number of witnesses. Firoz Ali Khan told researchers:

Not many people go to funerals because funerals have been struck by drones. Many people are scared. They don’t go to funerals because of their fear.

US Covert Action in Yemen 2002 – 2012

Total confirmed US operations (all): 52-62
Total confirmed US drone strikes: 40-50
Possible additional US operations: 119-138
Possible additional US drone strikes: 63-76
Total reported killed (all): 357-1,038
Total civilians killed (all): 60-163
Children killed (all): 24-34
For the latest data from Yemen click here.

The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Professor Christof Heyns, recently described the deliberate targeting of civilian rescuers as “a war crime.”

The joint report by two of the US’s biggest university law schools came after legal campaigning group Reprieve suggested a study into the impact of drones on civilians. It also assisted in putting researchers in touch with some of those affected in Pakistan – although Reprieve has had no editorial input, according to the report.

Professor Sarah Knuckey of NYU’s Global Justice Clinic co-authored the study with Professor James Cavallaro at Stanford. The pair visited Pakistan twice with a team of young lawyers, interviewing more than 130 people in connection with the CIA’s bombing programme.

Knuckey, who has previously investigated killings by the Taliban in Afghanistan, told the Bureau she had been surprised at the high levels of civilian trauma described by health professionals in the tribal areas. Incidence levels more closely resembled those found in higher intensity conflicts, she said.

Asked what she thought the study would achieve, Knuckey said that she hoped that those responsible in the US for covert drone strikes “look at this and say there are extremely well documented and serious concerns, both about the impact of our policies on Pakistani civilians, and also on the US’s own interests, and we need to consider this very seriously.”

The Obama administration has so far not engaged with the authors. A July 18 request for a meeting with the US National Security Council has yet to be answered.

Editors Note: This report is by Chris Wood, a reporter working with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London.

 

Inquire-Magazine.com