US peace activists call for end to drone strikes

— File Photo by AFP

WASHINGTON: Peace activists on Saturday completed a week of protests against US drone attacks in Pakistan and other places, urging the Obama administration to end the strikes.

On Friday evening, they held a vigil outside the Pakistan Embassy, Washington, in remembrance of non-combatants killed in the drone campaign.

“Certainly we would like an end to drone strikes. Our position is very clear and unambiguous, we consider them a violation of our sovereignty,” said Ambassador Sherry Rehman while talking to the protesters.

“The strikes are not acceptable to the people of Pakistan and they have been a weapon of diminishing returns for the US as well because they are causing an increase in the militancy,” she said.

“So many innocents have been killed and the collateral damage is definitely not worth” the gains made in the war, said one of the protesters, Aisha Iqbal.

“The least we can do as Americans is to get up and speak out in different places where decisions are made,” said another protester, Alli McCracken.

Activists from CODEPINK, an anti-war organisation, and students of the George Mason University participated in Friday’s vigil. They also demonstrated outside the White House, Congress and the Justice Department as part of these week-long protests.

Explaining why they held a vigil outside the Pakistan Embassy, the protesters said there should be more urgency for officials in countries like Pakistan to protect their citizens and sovereignty.

Anti-drone attacks activists had also protested at confirmation hearings for US Secretary of State John Kerry and CIA chief nominee John Brennan earlier this month. They are particularly targeting Mr Brennan who, as President Barack Obama’s chief anti-terrorism adviser, is considered the brain behind the administration’s drone programme.

Dozens of Pakistani-Americans also attended Friday’s vigil.

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