5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Drone Strikes

by Mehdi Hasan, The Huffington Post,  October 30, 2012
Yesterday, I was a panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Morning Live show on which, for once, I was able to debate the morality of the Obama administration’s CIA drone programme in Pakistan. There has been little discussion of the specific details of the programme in the mainstream media, on either side of the pond, and the recent US presidential debate on foreign policy saw moderator Bob Schieffer ask Mitt Romney (and not Barack Obama) a single, loaded and unfocused question on the issue.
Now, in the wake of a Pakistani man taking the British government to court over its alleged involvement in the killing of his father in a US drone strike in Waziristan, British media organisations are starting to pay attention.
But here are five things they – politicians, journalists, security ‘experts’, etc – don’t tell you about drone strikes – four out of five of which I managed to squeeze into yesterday’s discussion on the BBC (and which resulted in fellow panellist and former home secretary David Blunkett, to his credit, suggesting he may have to rethink his support for drones):
1) Despite their supposed ‘accuracy’ and ‘precision’, a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism says CIA drones have been responsible for between 474 and 881 civilian deaths in Pakistan since mid-2004 – including 176 Pakistani children, who were just as innocent as Malala Yousafzai. Continue reading

Angry Guatemalans demand justice at burial of 6 people fatally shot during protest

MOISES CASTILLO,  Associated Press
October 05, 2012

TOTONICAPAN, Guatemala — Thousands of indigenous Guatemalans shouted in anger Friday and some threw themselves at the coffins of six local people who were shot to death during a protest over electricity prices and educational reform in a poor rural area.

PHOTO: A wounded man sits on the ground during clashes with peasants protesting against the cost of electricity in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, west of Guatemala City on Thursday Oct. 4, 2012. At least two people have been killed and dozen others seriously wounded in the confrontation between protesters and security forces. (AP Photo)

President Otto Perez Molina acknowledged that government forces had opened fire during the protest Thursday, after saying earlier that police and troops on the scene had been unarmed and the protesters had provoked the clash.

Human rights groups condemned the government’s actions and charged they were part of a pattern of excessive use of force against protesters.

The protesters were blockading a highway near the town of Totonicapan, about 90 miles west of Guatemala City, when two vehicles carrying soldiers arrived to help police who had been ordered to evict the demonstrators. Gunfire erupted after the troops came. Bullets killed six people and wounded 34, officials said.

“We were protesting right next to them when they opened fire on us,” said Rolando Carrillo, a 25-year-old protester with a bandaged arm and lacerated face that he said resulted from being hit during the clash.

[A wounded man sits on the ground during clashes with peasants protesting against the cost of electricity in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan, west of Guatemala City on Thursday Oct. 4, 2012. At least two people have been killed and dozen others seriously wounded in the confrontation between protesters and security forces. (AP Photo)] Continue reading

US Army suicides up 80% since start of Iraq War

Suicide among young Army personnel rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, with 255 soldiers taking their lives in 2007 and 2008 alone.

, Global Post, March 8, 2012

US Military suicide rates over the years of the Iraq war

Suicide among young Army personnel rose 80% between 2004 and 2008, according to the Los Angeles Times. In the last two years that had data available for the study — 2007 and 2008 — 255 soldiers took their lives. The authors of the study, the Army Public Health Command (APHC), estimated that 25% to 50% of the suicides were directly related to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Suicide rates among active US Army personnel were decreasing between 1977 and 2003.

The number of suicides is “unprecedented in over 30 years of US Army records,” according to the APHC, and the increase in deaths parallels the increasing rates of depression and other mental health conditions among soldiers, reported The Daily Mail.

The study’s authors called the high presence of mental health disorders among enlisted personnel “sentinels for suicide risk,” according to The Baltimore Sun. From 2000 to 2008, adjustment disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and substance-abuse disorders have soared among Army personnel. During the same time, the number of visits for mental health disorders in the Army nearly doubled.

“This study does not show that US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cause suicide,” said Dr. Michelle Chervak, one of the study’s authors, a senior epidemiologist at the APHC, to ABC News. “This study does suggest that an Army engaged in prolonged combat operations is a population under stress, and that mental health conditions and suicide can be expected to increase under these circumstances.”

Amnesty Int’l: Call for African Arrest of GWBush is rebuffed by pro-US countries–int’l law to serve (not challenge) imperialism

African leaders ignore Amnesty’s call to arrest Bush

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, December 6, 2011

African leaders ignore Amnesty’s call to arrest Bush

ADDIS ABABA, Dec 6 – RNW correspondents in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia went in search of supporters and detractors of Amnesty International’s call to arrest former US president, George W. Bush, during his recent visit to the continent.
Aiding and abetting in Addis Ababa
Ethiopians have had a good laugh about Amnesty International’s appeal, which most say is a ‘foolish’ publicity stunt to win African support for the rights group.
“This is a ridiculous attempt to show us that they are not a biased organization,” Mikael Atsbeha, a cameraman, said. “They abuse the opportunity of Bush’s visit to Africa to buy support.”
He also said the arrest is “never going to happen,” because of the strong ties Ethiopia had with the Bush administration. Ethiopia has been a loyal ally in Bush’s ‘war on terror’, fighting Islamic extremism in a US backed incursion into neighboring Somalia from 2006 to 2009. It even earned Ethiopia’s leader Meles Zenawi the nickname ‘America’s poodle’. Continue reading

UN to reduce its occupation force in Haiti

MINUSTAH has more than 8,700 soldiers and 3,500 police in the French-speaking Caribbean country. Its mandate expires October 15.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday September 19, 2011 – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced plans to discuss with the Haitian government, the gradual reduction of MINUSTAH’s peacekeeping force in the country.

This follows violent protests about a sexual assault on an 18 year old resident, allegedly by five Uruguayan peacekeepers who left the country on Friday.

In a broadcast, Ban apologized for the incident, which he termed “totally unacceptable.”

While he praised MINUSTAH’s contribution to the country since 2004, he said he also understands the frustrations of the Haitian people. Continue reading

Philippines: Military abuse and extra-judicial killings are not “humanitarian”

Army chief hit over human rights remark

Sun Star, Saturday, June 25, 2011

ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Oban drew flak from a militant group for saying that the government’s counter-insurgency program is founded on “human rights.”

Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said initial results of “Oplan Bayanihan” show that some Filipinos were “displaced from their homes and communities, harassed, arrested and detained, tortured and killed” due to the policy.

The group has documented 17 persons killed through extrajudicial means from January to mid-June this year, bringing the number of people killed under President Benigno Aquino III to 45. Continue reading

Philippines: Aquino’s undeclared martial law and the response of the New People’s Army

http://www.philippinerevolution.net

Noynoy Aquino’s ‘undeclared Martial Law’ would aggravate human rights violations

Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos

Spokesperson, NDF Philippines, Mindanao

September 21, 2010

Today, September the 21st, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines — Mindanao (NDFP-Mindanao) joins the Filipino people in recollecting the tens of thousands of victims of grave human rights abuses upon the declaration of Martial Law. It was the Dictator Marcos’s virulent edict that plunged the nation into the darkest period of its history — 14 years of brutality when the people’s national democratic aspiration was single-handedly snuffed out through unrivalled and widespread repression.

Today, 23 years since the ouster of the fascist Marcos, and after the rule of four almost equally brutal regimes from Corazon Aquino to Gloria Arroyo, the symptoms of those dark years remain with us as summary executions, enforced disappearances, barefaced militarism and other appalling forms of human rights violations continue to persist.

On account of the newly installed Aquino government, it has carried on the infamous militarist legacy of the vile period of Martial Law despite the euphoria created by Mr. Aquino’s pre-programmed victory in the recent presidential elections and its hard sell campaign for ‘change.’ Continue reading