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Kick off forum
Photo by Cat Watters

(Madiha Tahir, Carl Dix, Maria LaHood, panelists (l-r) and Debra Sweet, moderator, at the April 2 kick-off forum of Spring Days of Action - 2014.)

On April 2, about 45 people attended the Spring Days of Drone Action kick-off forum at the Community Church in Manhattan, NY, organized by Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait.

Summarizing the presentations:

Madiha Tahir – maker of the film Wounds of Waziristan, said there is a need to press human rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to begin calling for a halt to drone attacks rather than calling only for “transparency” about drone attacks.  She that it is “time to stop pretending that we don’t know” what is happening with drone attacks that there is plenty of evidence as to what is going on and that it needs to stop.  “Anything less” than calling for a halt, she said “is willful blindness.”

Maria LaHood – senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, asked how President Obama can say his drone strikes are legal while not releasing any significant information about them.  She said legislation has just been introduced in Congress for transparency on drone attacks, a small step relative to the harm being done, but it is a step. She said that U.S. courts have refused to intervene to prevent drone killing and to assist families of drone victims trying to prosecute those who have ordered drone attacks.  Nor, she said, does the U.S. heed the international community.  Since no institution will stop the attacks, she said, “it’s up to us to do it.”

Carl Dix – a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party and founder with Cornel West of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said that the U.S.  has been able to say its drone attacks are necessary, legal and just simply by classifying “every male of military age as an insurgent or a combatant…any women and children who get killed well that’s because those enemies were hiding among those women and children.”  He said what has happened with the drone attacks is like police violence against black and Latino Americans, it is the “criminalization of whole populations”, and “they are fair game.”  What we need, he said, is revolution, but even if one is not ready to undertake that, the drone attacks must be stopped.

In addition, Joan Pluene and Phyllis Cunningham of the Granny Peace Brigade explained what they are doing to win passage of a ban on weaponized drones and drone surveillance in New York City, and their initiative at the United Nations to achieve a global ban.

Here are videos of each presentation, the Q &A and opening and closing remarks:

Madiha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UC1qiCTb_jE

Maria: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qah_YAULQlM&feature=youtu.be

Carl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ksqc9vfBQY

Granny Peace Brigade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KlUD8HIyoY

Q & A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooRmLYfLy-Y

Opening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtyz89tPJR8

Closing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whIL1mJnRdE

Wounds of Waziristan, a 28-minute powerful, personal film, mentioned in the opening video, may be obtained at: http://www.journeyman.tv/66218/short-films/wounds-of-waziristan-hd.html.

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