September 21, 2013Print : National
LONDON: A new project called ‘Naming the Dead’ aims to identify many of the 2,500 or more people who have been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The ambitious project is run by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ). For the past two years the Bureau has tracked every reported drone strike in Pakistan, recording details of the numbers of people killed in strikes and their locations. It has found reports of over 400 civilians killed. The drones campaign is hugely unpopular in Pakistan and has led to anti-Americanism rise to phenomenal new heights.
Now the Bureau wants to find and publish the names and biographical details of as many of those killed as possible.
‘Naming the Dead’ project will be launched in London next week.Alice Ross, who runs the Bureau’s drones team, told The News in an interview: “Bureau journalists have revisited all of the press reports, court documents and other sources from which they compiled the original data recording drone strikes. From these sources the Bureau has identified 568 individuals by name. But around four out of five drone victims are not named in the available sources reporting drone strikes.”
She said that of the named individuals 295 are civilians, 255 are militants (of whom 74 are classed as senior commanders and 95 are children. She said that just two are women, identified by their own names while others are described as ‘the wife of so-and-so’ or ‘the sister of so-and-so’.
She added: “There are many individuals whose name is the only thing that we know of them. Sometimes we only have part of a name. But we hope to build on the detail of those that have been identified.”
The Bureau will be publishing all 568 names in both English and Urdu on a dedicated website.Alice Ross hoped that “those who knew drone victims may come forward to corroborate, contradict or offer additional details about the dead to help us build a fuller picture” of the human cost of the drone war.
Ross added: “We started this project because we realised that although we now understand roughly how many people have been killed by drones, there is very little information on who those people actually are. The ‘Naming the Dead’ project is a vital step to recording the human cost of the drone conflict.”