NOTE from Oneheart blogger:
How are civilian killings helping efforts in NWFP?
Why are reporters not often reporting and photographing the terrible deaths of civilians from the airstrikes and the RETURN killings of innocents who seek to rescue the survivors? Why does the public see almost always only the mourning and killings evidently from the Taliban? Why not seek as much honesty and integrity from reporters and military as possible? How might we best work globally to end these killings? Connecting with and supporting The Peoples Resistance based in Pakistan may well be one way to do our part.
PRESS RELEASE Protesting Civilian Killings
Participating Groups and Possible Contacts are listed Below the Release
Fri, April 16, 2010 4:02:32 AM
[PR] statement for press - protest at Karachi Press Club
Peoples Resistance Protest against Civilian Killings In Khyber
On Saturday April 10, the Pakistani army bombed villages in Tirah in the Khyber Agency and killed more than 70 civilians. While the military denied the incident, local government confirmed compensation payments for civilian deaths and injuries. "All of those killed were civilians, 100% innocent," said Ikramullah Jan Kukikhel, a tribal elder. He further elaborates that a house with women, children and elderly was bombed and as villagers rushed to rescue those caught in the rubble, they were also attacked, killing many more.
Given the lack of transparency surrounding the many operations it is safe to say this is not the first time civilians have been killed by the army. The media has, in some cases, been strong-armed into publishing only ISPR approved stories, while independent news from the conflict regions has been systematically suppressed. Civilian deaths and army’s conduct are not reported or questioned in the mainstream media at all. Stories criticizing the army are virtually non-existent because the army does not permit them. After the bombing in Tirah, a BBC reporter was not allowed access to the wounded brought to Peshawar's Hayatabad hospital.
Fahad Deshmukh, a reporter, writes about covering the operation in Swat, “We came across countless civilians whose family members or friends had been killed in the conflict.” After talking to many affected civilians, he attempted to file a story that talked about people who welcome the army operation and also those who have suffered and opposed it. When the story ran, his editors censored out all army inflicted casualties. Upon questioning he is told, "Sorry, the management has told us that we can only run pro-Army stories. These are orders from the top". He wonders what the impact would be if the media shows the true visuals behind the airstrikes the same way bombing of hotels in larger metropolitans are shown.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has provided a list of 249 suspected extra-judicial killings from July 30, 2009, to March 22, 2010, mostly in Swat. They go on to say that independent journalists and locals widely believed security forces were behind these executions. According to estimates by Institute for Peace Studies in Pakistan, in 2009 alone -- 3,021 were killed by insurgents, 6,329 in Pakistan army operations, 1,163 in army-Taliban battles, and 1,419 in other violence, including drone missiles.
Since March 2010, the military has started a new operation in Orakzai. By some sources, in just 21 days 423-558 “militants” have been killed. Given the opacity of these operations, the reports coming in from independent sources and the army’s attempts to black out all negative news, we need to understand and question the army’s conduct in this war and its role in these killings.
Peoples’ Resistance does not accept the official ISPR versions of this conflict and demand openness and accountability from the army and the media. We do not condone the human rights violations and war crimes being committed by our military under the guise of clearing the region of insurgency. We condemn the Pakistan military giving logistical support to the US to carry out drone attacks since 2004. The UN Human Rights Council has been sharply critical of US drone attacks and their failure and lack of interest in tracking civilian casualties, and finds that these violate international law.
We demand that all military actions in these operations, whether direct or indirect through support to the US drone attacks, be brought before tribunals. We also demand that the media fulfill its duties and monitor this war boldly and truthfully. Only truthful and uncensored news can bring about an end to the war and the insurgency – when the people are able to judge from facts and form authentic opinions that can lead to viable solutions to the insurgency and the war.
We express solidarity with all the victims of this war, and especially the people of Orakzai, Khyber, Swat, Buner, South and North Waziristan – people who have borne the brunt of these operations.
Your grief is not unnoticed
The Peoples Resistance
Article publ. April 16, 2010 Pakistan's Daily Times/Reuter
Civilian Losses Could Hurt Pakistan Army's Anti-Taliban Efforts
Earlier (First) Press Release from The Peoples Resistance:
STOP CIVILIAN KILLINGS - Karachi Press Club - 4pm 16 April 2010
PEOPLE'S RESISTANCE - PRESS RELEASE (Posted Karachi, 15 April 2010)
Protest Against Civilian Killings by Pakistan Army
More than 70 civilians had been killed in a military operation in a village of Khyber tribal agency. These were innocent people. The Army must take full responsibility for this ghastly act. We want to see officers and personnel held responsible for this in full public view.
We are outraged to see these civilian casualties from an operation of Pakistan Army. Killing innocent compatriots, women and children goes against all our values as Pakistanis and human beings.
Let us mourn the dead and join a protest led by Peoples Resistance against this in-human act at:
(NOTE: the following proposed time may be modified - or an additional meeting with press to register this protest may be arranges so please check with the following Peoples Resistance list of contacts below the list of groups joining to be sure of any possible changes)
KARACHI PRESS CLUB
FRIDAY 16th April, 2010
Groups joining this protest include:
Karachi Bar Association KBA,
Labour Party of Pakistan LPP,
Pakistan Tehrik e Insaaf PTI,
Workers Party Pakistan WPP,
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan HRCP,
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF
Roots for Equity,
Strengthening Participatory Organizations SPO,
Action for a Progessive Pakistan APP
Please invite friends to join the protest.
Khyber air strike, Dawn Editorial, 13 Apr, 2010
The Peoples Resistance (PR) is a civil society organisation - a citizen's group and a loose coalition - composed of ordinary citizens, professionals, students and other human rights groups who work together for the common cause of : upholding the Constitution, restoration of Judiciary and implementing rule of Law.
Sahar Shafqat (prof in the US) - "Sahar Shafqat"
and Sophia Hasnain (in Germany) - "Sophia Hasnain"
Fahad Deshmukh who has recently quit Express News wrote the following relevant piece,
From one of the organizers of Friday's protest: "...even people who had previously supported the operation are now beginning to see the ugly truth of this operation that we have been shielded from by ...media interventions...we need brave reporters like (Deshmukh)...to start speaking the truth."
The United States, of course, needs to take a great deal of responsibility for beginning this course of action in the first place - ie - the use of drones, pushing certain war methods, spreading hatred and pushing "the people" toward extremists or at least toward greater and greater distrust of both US and Pakistan's military. Documented also recently: US military killing of many civilians in this region and elsewhere.
NOTE: Karachi, Pakistan is 9 hours ahead of New York EST time