Veterans For Peace Now in Pakistan Opposing Drone War

File:MQ-9 Reaper - 090609-F-0000M-777.JPG

‘Seven Members of Veterans For Peace are part of a
40-member delegation organized by Code Pink now in
Pakistan through October 10th.

WASHINGTON – October 1 – VFP members Leah Bolger, Dave
Dittemore, Bill Kelly, Jody Mackey, Rob Mulford, and
Ann Wright are meeting with drone victims’ families,
elected officials, tribal elders, and residents of
South Waziristan, where U.S. drone strikes have killed
thousands, while injuring and making refugees of many
more. Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin is an associate member
of VFP.

The relentless drone war continued with a U.S. drone
strike in the Mir Ali area on Monday, reportedly
killing three unidentified people.

At the same time, the Pakistani media is full of
accounts of the U.S. delegation and their planned
participation in a march to the heaviest hit areas, a
story also appearing in British and other world media.
The English language Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports:

«ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran
Khan said that a 30-member foreign delegation had
reached Islamabad on Sunday which would participate in
PTI’s ‘peace rally’ in South Waziristan, DawnNews

«The PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that people who do
not want peace are against PTI peace rally.

«Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, Khan said
Mehsud, Burki and Bhittani tribes of Waziristan have
welcomed the peace rally. The tribal leaders had also
assured the security of the participants of the rally,
he added.

«He complained that the government was not issuing
visas to the foreign journalists and human right’s
activists who wanted to attend the rally.

«Speaking on the occasion, US citizen Ann Wright, who
is a former diplomat and military woman, said most of
the American people were against drone attacks.

“’Drone attacks are illegal and criminal. We request
the people of Pakistan to raise their voice against
them. We will go to Waziristan to apologise to the
relatives of those killed by drones,’ said Ms Wright,
who is also the spokesperson for the Anti-War Movement.

«She said the US had been violating the sovereignty of
Pakistan. ‘There is travel warning for the US citizens
but we have come here and will go to the places where
our government does not want us to go,’ she said.

Other US citizens who have reached here to take part in
the PTI rally include Paki Wieland, a social worker
(Massachusetts); Linda Wenning, a graduate from the
University of Utah; Lorna Vander Zanden and Pam Bailey
(Virginia); Jolie Terrazas, Judy Bello, Katie
Falkenberg, Daniel Burns and Joe Lombardo (New York);
Barbara Briggs, Tighe Barry, Sushila Cherian, Dianne
Budd and Toby Blome (California); Leah Bolger, Tudy
Cooper and Michael Gaskill (Oregon); Medea Benjamin,
Jody Tiller and Alli McCracken (Washington DC); Anam
Eljabali (Illinois), Patricia Chaffee (Wisconsin), Joan
Nicholson (Pennsylvania), Robert Naiman and JoAnne
Lingle (Indiana); Rob Mulford (Alaska), Lois
Mastrangelo (Massachusetts) and Billy Kelly (New

«Meanwhile explaining the route of the rally, the PTI
Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said thet the march
will start from Islamabad’s Blue Area and will proceed
towards Balkasar, Talagang, Mianwali and DI Khan on
October 6.

«On October 7, the rally will gather at Tank and then
head towards South Waziristan where a public meeting
will be held at Kot Kai, he added.»

Veterans For Peace President Leah Bolger reports that,
in addition to Ann Wright, Bill Kelly, Rob Mulford, and
herself took part in the press conference representing
VFP. Wright was introduced by Khan and spoke about the
purpose of the delegation, and answered questions from
the press. Bolger reounts:

«Ann did a fantastic job of describing the purpose of
the delegation and responding to reporters’ questions
which included asking us if we were concerned for our
own safety, given the strong anti-American sentiment in
Pakistan. She was very candid in saying that we were
opposed to the policies of our own government which we
consider to be illegal and immoral, and that as
citizens of the United States we apologized for the
deaths of Pakistanis because of the drone strikes. She
went on to say that the U.S. government does not want
us to be here in Pakistan, but that despite official
State Department warnings not to travel here, we are
determined to meet with the people who have been harmed
by our government, and in our name.»

Rob Mulford sent in this comment:

«Love is the seed from which the flower of peace grows.
Prior to coming to Pakistan, I was often asked by
friends, family, loved ones the rhetorical question:
why, what do you hope to accomplish, what is the
efficacy? Sometimes when put on the spot I struggle for
answers grounded in the technical without seeing the
ubiquitous truth. I am here to say ‘I love you’ to a
people who have for too long and too often been wrongly
vilified. But words are empty without action. The
warmth of tacit contact, the handshake, the hug, the
reflection of an other’s beauty in ones own eyes, and
openly sharing one’s own vulnerability. This is peace.

«Peace requires courage. Saturday we met with the
anthropologist / filmmaker Samar Miniallah Khan. Samar,
a Pashtun, tirelessly and courageously works to comfort
and protect some of the most venerable people on the
face of the earth, women and children who have had no
part in the making of a world where they suffer. Her
documentary ‘Women Behind the Burqa’ may just be the
most powerful statement that I have ever seen in
opposition to war. It needs to be seen by everyone in
the United States, shown in schools, to those who
govern, and on the popular media. It lays bare the lie
that ‘we’ (US military forces) are involved involved in
protecting women.

«Drones are robot assassins, murders. They are not
tools of the just.»

Pam Bailey reports on her blog:

«Monday evening, I will fly from New York City to Abu
Dhabi, and then on to Islamabad. On Oct. 6, I and about
30 others from the United States and the UK will join
PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or ‘Movement for
Justice’) Chairman Imran Khan on a convoy into South
Waziristan, the ‘no-man’s land’ along the border with
Afghanistan where extremists hide and U.S. drones most
often strike.

«Before founding the PTI party in 1996, Khan played
international cricket for two decades (at 39, Khan led
his teammates to Pakistan’s first and only World Cup
victory in 1992) and became a much-beloved
philanthropist, including the founding of Shaukat
Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre.
Foreign Policy magazine described him as ‘Pakistan’s
Ron Paul.’

«The original plan was for the convoy to penetrate deep
into North Waziristan, the heart of the unrest and
military response, allowing us to visit the families
caught in the crossfire at ‘Ground Zero.’

«However, after threats of suicide attacks were
received, the plan was revised to limit the convoy to
South Waziristan – a path that the Hakimullah
Mahsud-led Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or the
Pakistani Taliban) has pledged to protect. The question
now is whether the Pakistani government will allow the
convoy to go ahead. In light of Khan’s criticism of the
Pakistani government’s tacit complicity with the U.S.
drone attacks, several international journalists
already have been denied visas. Stay tuned.»

Veterans For Peace member Ray McGovern, not on the
trip, provides context here.

VFP is part of a coalition organizing an online
petition in support of banning weaponized drones. VFP
members are delivering over 16,000 signatures on the
petition to those they meet with in Pakistan: PDF.

In addition, Veterans For Peace is a member
organization of UNAC (the United National Antiwar
Coalition, a U.S. group), and Leah Bolger represents
VFP on the UNAC Administrative Committee. Joe Lombardo
and Judi Bello, also part of the delegation to
Pakistan, are also UNAC Administrative Committee
members. UNAC has just released a statement opposing
the use of drones: PDF.

Participants are available for interviews by email and
phone, and in-person after the trip.

Veterans For Peace was founded in 1985 and has
approximately 5,000 members in 150 chapters located in
every U.S. state and several countries. It is a 501(c)3
non-profit educational organization recognized as a
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the United
Nations, and is the only national veterans’
organization calling for the abolishment of war.
Veterans For Peace is a national organization founded
in 1985. It is structured around a national office in
Saint Louis, MO and comprised of members across the
country organized in chapters or as at-large members.
The organization includes men and women veterans of all
eras and duty stations including from the Spanish Civil
War (1936-39), World War II, the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf
and current Iraq wars as well as other conflicts. Our
collective experience tells us wars are easy to start
and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the
innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are


CONTACT: Veterans for Peace

Ann Wright 808-741-1141; Leah Bolger 541-207-7761; David Swanson, 202-329-7847

Legg igjen en kommentar

Din e-postadresse vil ikke bli publisert. Obligatoriske felt er merket med *