The statement of a man who lost his father to a CIA drone strike in Pakistan was today described as “very moving” by the judge hearing a legal challenge to the UK Government’s reported policy of support for the secret drone programme.
Lord Justice Moses was referring to written evidence from Noor Khan, a resident of North West Pakistan who is bringing the challenge with the support of legal action charity Reprieve.
UK intelligence services reportedly provide intelligence to support the CIA’s secretive programme of drone strikes, which claims to target ‘militants’ but has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and had a severe psychological impact on communities across the region.
Mr Khan’s statement in full is as follows (translated from Pashto):
“The community is now plagued with fear. Drones hover over our skies day and night. All over NWA [North Waziristan Agency, Pakistan], but especially in Datta Khel, drone strikes continue to take place.
“The Tribal elders are now afraid to gather together in jirgas as has been the custom for more than one century. We are scared that if we get together we might be targeted again.
“The mothers and wives plead with the men to not congregate together for fear that they will be targeted. They do not want to lose any more of their husbands, sons, brothers, and nephews.
“We come from large families, some joined families, and people in the same family now sleep apart because they do not want their togetherness to be viewed suspiciously through the eye of the drone. They do not want to become the next target.
“Most of the people in NWA live in poverty. They have no option but to stay in this area, though many want to leave because of the drones. Plus, we are connected to this land. This is ancestral living place. Why should we have to leave when we have done nothing wrong?
“The younger generation has been especially affected. The children almost all suffer from mental illness and live in constant fear of the drone. The children no longer attend school and because of the constant humming of the drones they’ve become mental patients. My generation fears that because the younger generation is not getting an education they will become a burden on us and stifle the growth that we could have achieved as a people.”
Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: “Mr Khan’s evidence highlights the terrible toll the CIA’s illegal programme of drone strikes is taking on ordinary people across Northwest Pakistan. The British people have a right to know whether their own Government is providing support to this devastating and counterproductive campaign. Continued obfuscation is no longer acceptable – ministers must come clean.”
Notes to Editors
1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 427 1082 / firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Mr Khan’s statement is an extract from the Detailed Statement of Facts and Grounds, which is available on request.
3. Further information on the case can be found here: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/2012_10_22_hague_in_court_over_UK_drones_policy