By Pat Chaffee
Awake to Drones
“We are still finding body pieces.”
My job was to gather the body pieces after an IED explosion, trying to keep pieces on one body together.”
“My uncles were cut in pieces.”
I heard the first statement when I volunteered at the rest station set up for first responders in St. Peter’s church near Ground Zero. The second statement I heard during an NPR interview with a Marine.
I heard the third statement as I sat on the floor in the office of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) in Islamabad, an organization that provides legal aid for victims of U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan. Shahzad Akbar, founder of FFP, had invited — or more accurately, challenged — Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war activist group CODEPINK, to bring a delegation to Pakistan to meet with victims and survivors of drone attacks.
So, on October 4, 2012, thirty-four U.S. citizens and one Canadian sat on the floor listening. Kamir Kahn, a survivor in his fifties, wearing traditional tribal garb, told of the drone attack on his village on December 31, 2009, that killed his 18-year-old son and his brother. He picked up their body pieces for Muslim burial.
Body parts. I invite us to say the words slowly: body parts. A body ripped apart by an airplane crashing into a building, by an IED, by a drone. In Waziristan, we must picture not only the limbs of women and men, but also the severed head of a child.