Why Was This Grandmother Killed by a Drone?

The short answer is we don’t know. Mamana Bibi, a 68-year-old grandmother, was killed by a U.S. drone strike on October 24th, 2012, as she picked vegetables in her family’s fields and while her grandchildren were nearby.

One of the grandchildren, Nabeela, who was 8 years old at the time and injured in the strike, told Amnesty International:

“The explosion was very close to us. It was very strong, it took me into the air and pushed me onto the ground…I saw her shoes. We found her mutilated body a short time afterwards…It had been thrown quite a long distance away by the blast and it was in pieces. We collected as many different parts from the field and wrapped them in a cloth…I wasn’t scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, will I be next?”

Nabeela’s heart-breaking testimony is part of Amnesty International’s new in-depth report ‘Will I Be Next?: U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan.’ She is also pictured on the cover and speaks in this short video about Mamana Bibi and her family.

AI_DroneReport_Cover_101613Amnesty’s report – issued today in conjunction with Human Rights Watch’s new report ‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of U.S. Targeted Killings in Yemen’ – examines all 45 reported U.S. drone strikes that occurred between January 2012 and August 2013 in North Waziristan, the region in Pakistan where the vast majority of drone strikes have occurred. Amnesty conducted detailed field research into nine strikes, including the strikes that killed Mamana Bibi, based on rare access to the region and more than 60 interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, residents and officials.

Amnesty International analyzed the killings under international human rights law and international humanitarian law(the law of armed conflict) and is seriously concerned that these and other strikes have resulted in unlawful killings that may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes.

Under international law, the burden is on the U.S. government to show that the killing of Mamana Bibi – and any others – was lawful. But in keeping with the overall lack of transparency surrounding the drone program, the Obama administration has said nothing public about the killing of Mamana Bibi and has kept its legal memos on the rationale for drone killing secret. President Obama must explain why and on what legal basis Mamana Bibi and others were killed, and follow the laws restricting the use of lethal force.

Congress, particularly the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, must hold President Obama accountable to the law. It should start by launching a full, independent and impartial investigation into the killing of Mamana Bibi and all other cases documented in the reports by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch.

Take Action: Urge President Obama and Congress to address the death of Mamana Bibi and any other alleged unlawful killings.

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6 thoughts on “Why Was This Grandmother Killed by a Drone?

  1. Remember when wet behind the dumbo ears — first year US Senator Barack Obama criticized the administration for lack of more troops on the ground in Afghanistan — and that we were just carelessly air raiding villages and killing civilians? Well the use of drones is drastically up and the innocent casualties as well! Oh boy that naive and charming wet behind the dumbo ears sure did (and on many cases continue to) make such a fool of so many of you. Hope… Change… Yes we can… Clap like trained seals and repeat after me O-baaaaaahhhh-ma O-baaaaaahhhh-ma

  2. Could we get some additional details on this investigation?

    What bothers me, is her “recognition” of a drone as the attack vehicle — and how an eight-year-old(particularly from a technologically inhibited culture) could tell an air-to-surface missile from, say, a
    mortar or an RPG. For starters, how big was the crater?

    Had this been a bomb (static) it would be reasonable to believe that a person who just happened to be looking up (as it was released) might recognize the launch vehicle (helicopter, fighter jet, drone). It is my understanding, however, that military UAVs deploy only rockets. If this is correct, then the launch or release is going to occur several miles from the target — and a ground observer’s view of the attack vehicle would therefore be obscured by distance, and the haze of the horizon.

    I join the other members of Amnesty International, in demanding justice for Nabeela (and for her grandmother). However, our credibility as an organization is too important to expend on reports
    of questionable accuracy.

    • Randall I invite you to live in those villages in Pakistan for a few weeks. Perhaps when you hear the horrendous sound of the drones hover over your head and launch a missile (yes they make a distinct sound that is not difficult to miss), and then following that a blast perhaps you can understand what they go through and why they were able to identify it as a drone.

      Maybe because, unlike you, they live the reality and they know from experience what a drone strike looks like. Maybe an 8 year from that are will know what a drone strike looks like because, unlike you, their childhood was ruined by rain of missiles falling from the sky. You know, when they fall on their back and look at the beautiful sky it's no longer a childhood experience of looking at the beautiful clouds and talking about the different shapes of clouds but now we have this vehicle of death hiding behind those clouds. So please stop imposing your understanding of childhood to other societies. There are 8 year old village girls in pakistan who can handle more responsibilities and are far more mature than many so-called adults here in the US.

  3. Just another political push to change the larger success narrative of "drone strikes" that most people in the drone-strike-areas and Afghanistan seem to support in large numbers. All the best to the Pak army in trying to change perception, it seems to be leading nowhere.

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