FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sam Ritchie, Communications Director, (347) 452-0008, email@example.com
Alli McCracken, National Director, (860) 575-5692, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace group calls for immediate repercussions for all US officials involved in slaughter of civilians, compensation for victims.
(Washington, D.C. – July 1, 2016) In response to today’s admission by the U.S. government that 64 to 116 civilian deaths have been caused by drone strikes, CODEPINK is calling for an independent investigation of whether such killings amount to war crimes, immediate accountability for the Obama administration officials guilty of perpetrating these civilian deaths, and compensation for the family members of the innocent victims of US drone strikes. Furthermore, CODEPINK disputes the numbers put forth by the Obama administration as underestimated and unreliable, both due to the government’s refusal to reveal their methodology or information on specific strikes as well as the automatic categorization of every adult male over 18 killed by drones as an enemy combatant.
“The admission by the US government that it has killed possibly over 100 civilians in drone strikes warrants an immediate independent investigation into whether or not the Obama administration is guilty of committing war crimes,” said CODEPINK Co-director Alli McCracken. “Even more horrifying is that these numbers only take into consideration the civilians slaughtered in countries that the U.S. is not even at war with: Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and does not mention the other countries the US regularly conducts drone strikes in, such as Iraq and Afghanistan.”
By automatically removing every male over age 18 from the civilian category, whether or not they were engaged in any military or terrorist activity of any kind, the U.S. government statistics significantly underestimate the true number of civilian deaths caused by drone strikes. In addition to underestimating civilian casualties, the government statistics fail to capture the tens of thousands of cases of lost limbs, partial or total paralysis and other psychological or significant permanent injury caused to civilians by drone strikes. The damage done to civilian survivors of drone strikes is often brutal, devastating and lifelong and is completely unaccounted for in the government statistics released today.
“The number of civilian deaths from drone strikes claimed by the U.S. military today is an obvious underestimate and should be treated as pure propaganda,” said Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK and author of the book Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. “Independent organizations investigating civilian deaths from drones have estimated the true number to be three to ten times higher than what the Obama administration is now reporting. The military has a vested interest in underreporting the true number of civilian deaths caused by drone warfare and past practices – such as automatically categorizing all males over 18 as “enemy combatants” even when there is no evidence to support that label – guarantee that these statistics are in no way reflective of reality.”
CODEPINK has hosted two international summits about drone warfare, taken delegations to Pakistan and Yemen to meet with drone strike survivors, and brought drone strike survivors to the US to tell their stories in Congressional briefings and other public events. CODEPINK and other coalition members participated in the “Shut Down Creech” action March 27 - April 2, 2016 outside Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada which brought attention to the use of drone warfare and used nonviolent resistance to shut down killer drone operations in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan,Yemen, Somalia and around the world. More information about CODEPINK’s work on drones can be found at http://www.codepink.org/ground_the_drones.