On November 19, more than 100 people participated in "Living under Drones! Report from Pakistan," on the University of Pennsylvania (UofP) campus. This event was initiated by Philly Against War, www.phillyagainstwar.org , and the Penn Pakistan Society, www.dolphin.upenn.edu/paksoc/ .
The participants gathered in Steinberg Hall-Dietrich Hall at the Wharton School to hear a first-hand report by the U.S. anti-war/anti-drone delegation which recently returned from Pakistan. Penn Pakistan Society member Maheen Sheikh served as host and explained that the use of drones has cast a question mark over the morality of President Barak Obama's actions abroad. Sheikh also explained the importance of good relations with Pakistan for the security of the U.S.
Dr. Claire Finkelstein, professor of law and philosophy at UofP, then explained how the regular practice of assassination by drones has caused a legal and moral paradox, especially since Obama's justifications for those assassinations have been held in secret. Finkelstein is the editor of Targeted Killings (Oxford, 2012).
Peter Lems of the American Friends Service Committee then exposed two myths about drone warfare. Lems explained that drones are not inexpensive and that unarmed drones are morally and ethically as dangerous as armed drones.
Marge Van Cleef of Women's International League for Peace and Freedom spoke about the drone research being done at UofP and Drexel University. Van Cleef especially objected to the work being done at the General Robotics Automation Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory. She said, "The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has identified a minimum of 2,800 (and as many as 4,100) civilians killed in covert U.S. drone strikes over the past ten years."
The evening's keynote speaker was Joe Lombardo, n ational co-coordinator of the United National Antiwar Coalition, www.nationalpeaceconference.org , who had recently returned from Pakistan as a member of an anti-war/anti-drone delegation. Lombardo met three times with the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, who told the delegation that no civilian had ever been killed by a drone. Lombardo also met with relatives and neighbors of victims of drone assassinations. He saw thousands of people demonstrate against the murder of innocent civilians by U.S. drones. Lombardo said the Pakistani people were much more convincing than the U.S. ambassador.
"Living under Drones! Report from Pakistan" was endorsed by Brandywine Peace Community, www.brandywinepeace.com ; Green Party of Philadelphia, www.gpop.org ; Penn for Palestine; Philadelphia International Action Center, www.iacenter.org/philly-iac ; Socialist Action; Temple Students for Justice in Palestine; and Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, www.wilpfus.org . Philly Against War will hold further events on the issue of drones, and war research at local universities. For more information or to get involved , please contact 267-944-9448.
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