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When tribal elders from the remote Pakistani region of North Waziristan travelled to Islamabad last week to protest against CIA drone strikes, a teenager called Tariq Khan was among them.
A BBC team caught him on camera, sitting near the front of a tribal assembly, or jirga, listening carefully.
Four days later he was dead – killed by one of the drones he was protesting against.
His family told us two missiles hit the 16-year-old on Monday near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan. His 12-year-old cousin Wahid was killed alongside him.
(Source: BBC News)
I have tried to post an article on here every time the US has carried out another terrorist attack on innocent Pakistanis. I have tried but, I confess, some days I’m just not up to writing about more children killed by CIA drones, more families shattered by the USA’s brutality. The horror is too much.
Here are the current figures for the illegal drone war the USA is carrying out in Pakistan:
Let’s be perfectly clear here: the USA is not in a state of war with Pakistan. So, these attacks are terror attacks, pure and simple. And even if there was a state of war, the use of drones can be seen to be flouting so many of the Geneva Conventions set up precisely to protect non-combatants, as Clive Stafford-Smith points out:
“If you are trying to surrender and you put your hands up to a drone, what happens?” he asks.
“They just fire the missile, so there are all sorts of Geneva Conventions issues which are not being discussed.”
(Source: BBC News)
Stafford-Smith is a lawyer campaigning against the CIA’s terror in Pakistan. In a Guardian article in August, he reported a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:
The BIJ’s study is everything that the CIA version of events is not: transparent, drawn from as many credible sources as possible and essentially open. It is clear about where its material comes from and what the margin of error may be. You should look, and you should engage, not just with the bare numbers, but also some of the stories: the attack on would-be rescuers by drones that had lingered, circling over the site of a previous strike, and opened fire – on the cruel assumption that any Good Samaritan must be a Taliban Samaritan; or the teenager who lost both legs when his family home was hit.
(Source: The Guardian)
How is this tolerated by the other “civilised” nations of the world? Why is the USA, alone among every nation, allowed carte blanche to murder over 2,600 people with its drone attacks?
I find the conspiracy of silence in our mass media to be mindboggling. This is the same media which descended into a feral frenzy over Ghaddafi’s death, scrambling to post up pictures of his corpse. And yet, it manages to miss displaying over 2,600 pictures of other corpses, these ones being the victims of American imperialism.
The CIA and USA’s justification for these attacks is laughable. Every attack is on a “militant.” But of course it is. This is a retroactive designation: anyone the US murders with its drones automatically becomes a militant. Including the children blown to tiny pieces, presumably.
Again, imagine if China started using drones against civilians in South Korea, saying that they had evidence that they were part of an anti-Chinese terror group. Could you really see the world standing by doing nothing in that situation?
One thing is clear. Obama = Blair. Both were seen as lions of the left, both are now nothing more than blood-encrusted war criminals. The blood of the innocents of Pakistan (and now Somalia) drips from Obama’s hands.
And the voices of protest will fall on deaf ears:
But Washington is unlikely to heed the anger here. Under President Barack Obama, the use of drone missiles has soared – there’s an attack on average every four days.
Increasingly, these remote-controlled killers are Washington’s weapon of choice.
(Source: BBC News)
A drone attack every four days under Obama. What a glorious leader!
Mosh Halloween 2011, a set on Flickr.
Sooo… If you read my previous post about being in the wrong universe, you’ll know that Halloween has very unhappy associations for me.
I had thought I’d give it a miss this year, not go out at all, even though it was a Monday and I love my Mondays at Mosh because of the awesome dubstep sets that DJ Tom Hughes plays.
After writing the previous rant, I was, to be honest, in a bad place. But then I phoned up my mate Nat, cried down the phone to her and she very sweetly and calmly brought me out of my blue funk. When you’re feeling terrible and alone and hurt and four years old, there seems to be no way out, no possible respite. Sometimes, you need the right word from the right person to lever you out of that state. On your own, you can’t see how to get there from here, you need a map provided by someone outside your own head.
Then I slept. A lot. My brain does that. I haven’t got narcolepsy or anything but when I’m very stressed / sad, I go to bed and sleep. I’ll have fucked-up dreams and wake up not better / happy but different. And that can sometimes be enough.
So, I woke up a slightly different person to the one who wrote about universes. And I decided that, fuckit, I was going to go out and I was even going to dress up. Something I have never done before. (Well, I’m sure I did as a little kid but certainly I can’t remember anything post the age of ten.)
I went into town, did a slightly deranged march to the costumey place and bought scads of fake blood, latex, and bits of a priest uniform. Then I got ready and went out! I looked like this:
I had fun. I nibbled many girls’ necks and a couple of cleavages. I dripped blood on people, danced round like an undead idiot and generally pretended that Halloween wasn’t to be dreaded. And after a while, as with all pretending, it became semi-true. I replaced my real ghosts of Halloween with, to me, the far less scary ones of the fictional supernatural world. You could argue that’s why we have all those stories in the first place but that’s a whole other research paper.
As another side issue, what is it about vampires that girls/women love so much? Honestly, I got away with far ruder behaviour last night than at any other time, simply because I had fangs and was dripping blood. It’s not like I was more attractive than normal and yet, in some way, I must have been. Although I kept in character, as did my “victims,” there was something behind the pretense that was real and sensual and of a liminal wildness. Maybe it’s the idea of seduction, maybe the fantasy abrogation of choice and therefore responsibility which in turns may be liberating? Again, I’m sure there are many learned papers out there about all this, somewhere.
I got home at 3ish, had a shower to wash away all the blood and make-up and packed my fangs away in their ridiculous tiny coffin carry case.
Then, as I am me and can’t simply sit around enjoying being happy, I started to ponder why I felt good. I came up with an explanation: I did something yesterday that was a bit scary and totally new. I made a new memory that wasn’t shared or initiated by my ex. Whether that’s moving on or avoiding dealing with those memories just yet, I don’t know.
But if you’re in a similar place, maybe you should see if you can get out of those closed loops of pain in the same fashion? Obviously, I don’t mean you should dress up as a vamp and go round biting people, I mean that there might be a new ground for you to find. And this new territory will be necessarily less cluttered with associations and totems from another time, another person. I’m not being glib about the likelihood, though: after three years of going through those loops, there have been many, many times I’ve failed in trying to escape them.
I’m also not saying that I’m cured or I’ve done the mythical “moving on” that apparently normal humans do. But last night was a few hours of happiness, an escape and, in a somewhat bizarre way, a glimpse of another universe where, yes, I’m a vampire priest but also, I’m doing okay.
Really, if I can get to okay more often, that would be enough for me. 🙂
Mosh 24-30/10/11, a set on Flickr.