Living Under Drones
Constant presence of CIA drones in Pakistan’s tribal areas is having a massive effect on much of the civilian population. A study was made interviewing men, women and children are subjected to almost constant trauma. Many people are in constant fear of attack and have severe anxiety. They feel powerlessness, and suffer with insomnia and high levels of stress.
Out of the 130 people interviewed a shockingly high number of those eyewitnesses said that rescuers have been deliberately targeted by the CIA drones in the tribal areas. This new study heavily challenges the US government and its claims that very few civilians have died in CIA drone strikes. But there seems to be significant evidence to the contrary.
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 these rural towns. One psychiatrist told researchers that many of his patients are in constant fear that they might come under attack. 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.
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 corroborates with a major Bureau investigation. They found that multiple CIA strikes between 2009 and summer 2011 had deliberately targeted rescuers and funeral-goers. These secondary strikes have discouraged average civilians from coming to one another’s rescue. 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.
A second 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.’
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Professor Christof Heyns, recently described the deliberate targeting of civilian rescuers as ‘a war crime.’ It is crazy how the US government does not realize that killing civilians will cause hatred towards the US. The people of Pakistan involved in these attacks have grown to hate and fear the US. These war crimes will in turn convince many more Pakistanis to join militant organizations.