More than collateral: Drone victims - giving names to the numbers

Published: December 22, 2013
SHARES
Email
German-Afghan journalist speaks about website identifying every victim of drone strikes. PHOTO: AFP

German-Afghan journalist speaks about website identifying every victim of drone strikes. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

“Collateral damage” – two simple words, used loosely, create a disassociation from the human cost of the US drone programme. Innocent – and often forgotten – lives are lost. In Germany, a young journalist is working to change that and humanise the numbers by giving them back their names. Emran Feroz is about to start up a website listing the names of every single person killed by a drone strike anywhere in the world.

His project called dronememorial.com is driven by a belief that “people in the West do not recognise what daily life in Waziristan and other areas of the world is like when drones are hovering overhead.”

The son of Afghan immigrants, Feroz told The Express Tribune how fortunate he felt to be in Europe while his fellow Afghans were becoming victims of extrajudicial killings under a questionable ‘foreign policy’.

 photo 30_zps8f791ba7.jpg

“While people talk a lot about victims of radical religious groups, nobody talks about the fate of drone victims. I want to give them a voice. I want to show everybody as many names as possible, not just some numbers.”

The 22-year-old’s project, though ambitious, is “very simple. It’s a website with only one page – a virtual memorial for all the victims of drone strikes. Let’s be honest, creating such a website isn’t difficult. Many names are already available. So I decided to start with it.”

The site provides a simple list of names and locations of the respective attack.

Feroz saw the need for such a memorial while doing research for stories on the subject. He was never able to find a complete list of the names of those killed. “I was surprised and angry. There are memorials in many cities for victims of terrorism, but there isn’t any memorial for more than 3,000 victims of US drones, not even a virtual one. There are virtual memorials for fictional characters from TV or video games but not for the victims of these cruel attacks which happen somewhere every week. Honestly, this is just sickening and I want to change that.”

Building such a list might be problematic, since names of some of the dead have been concealed. While details on civilians can be gathered with help from local communities and NGOs, others might not be as forthcoming.

“At this moment I don’t know if there is any possibility for me to contact all concerned. Nevertheless, it would be a big advantage to talk with all parties. As a journalist I am not opposed to doing it. I have to talk with as many people as possible,” he said. “Unfortunately, it seems impossible to find out all the names, but that does not mean I shouldn’t try.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2013.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (25)

  • tareen
    Dec 22, 2013 - 12:02PM

    How can someone believe in the authenticity of such names?

    Recommend

  • Kaleem
    Dec 22, 2013 - 12:09PM

    I think the Pakistani Government should publish the names of all the drone victims and take that to the UN to escalate the issue.

    Also, a world organised campaign could be brilliant for awareness…..sometimes shaming the enemy can produce results….even if it’s the super power…..

    Recommend

  • Nikki
    Dec 22, 2013 - 12:19PM

    This job should have been done by Mr. Imran Khan.But this young boy is leading .

    Recommend

  • ddd
    Dec 22, 2013 - 12:44PM

    @Nikki:
    You need to get your eyes checked. He is not a boy but a grown man.

    Recommend

  • shah
    Dec 22, 2013 - 12:46PM

    Names looks bogus….Osama Haqqani, Kashmir Khan ? Never heard of a Pakistani tribal with names like that……the surname Khan is also rarely used in Waziristan.

    Recommend

  • NDC2
    Dec 22, 2013 - 12:59PM

    @ddd:

    You are right DDD, he is not boy but much younger than your brave leader, IK.In front of IK, he looks BABY in his early 20s only.

    Recommend

  • NDC2
    Dec 22, 2013 - 1:08PM

    Common boy, get through survey and tell us the actual number of causalties in drone attacks.Keep it up, weldone.

    Recommend

  • JD
    Dec 22, 2013 - 1:29PM

    Feroz: I’ll suggest you to also add gender.

    Recommend

  • Tariq
    Dec 22, 2013 - 1:39PM

    Drones attacks and coverts operations to kill anybody giving them any name is declared MURDER and no law and forum can support it. The person who is being murder through those methods cannot prove their innocence thus proof to be illegal. More surprisingly these methods are counter productive and becoming a source of more violence and resolve into the victims to revenge. Pakistan is ideal example where more of the killings and bomb blasts are done in order to revenge the actions being taken by Pakistan army or US. I think these drones become so luxurious and getting more publicity in the media that US is compelled to use these acts which giving a sense of war and victory to them in their country. Otherwise it is almost established that US and West has failed their adventure in Afghanistan. these drones attacks came as rescue to give any meaning to this futile exercise since 2001.

    Recommend

  • Shankar
    Dec 22, 2013 - 1:46PM

    Go baby go,you will contribute a lot for correting the figures which have been misreported.

    Recommend

  • Abdullah Khan
    Dec 22, 2013 - 1:49PM

    Welldone young man.Keep it up. Ik has failed to do that.

    Recommend

  • Dec 22, 2013 - 1:53PM

    I believe in the authenticity of these names because it is published in well now tribune portal, So writer definitely did his/her research

    Recommend

  • Akhtarrao
    Dec 22, 2013 - 2:00PM

    @ddd:

    And you claim to be the champion of YOUTH, while denying a young person who is tender in his age, what a rhetroic my dear.Let us talk about his work,he is doing good work,we should appreciate him and also avoide personal comment ,particularly for female.
    ET modrator: Kindly you should make sure that unethical comments are not being posteded.
    Thanks and regards

    Recommend

  • BAC
    Dec 22, 2013 - 2:44PM

    The Modrator ET:
    Have u ever checked unethical comments.Some people do not know what to comment and they submit unprofessional tone by attacking person.
    Please make sure that readers is not crticising other reader’s.This is the dilemma in Pakistan majority has no knowledge that whom they comment after reading the news?

    Recommend

  • csmann
    Dec 22, 2013 - 3:12PM

    Unbiased reports are already available from many human rights organizations and Pakistani government. This boy would have us believe that drones are just killing wajirstanis.More than 80% killed are terrorists,and non-wajirstanis alias guests with guns alias Martyrs who murder innocent men,women and children and maim in thousands.If this man claims to know so much about Wajirstan,then he can also produce a list of terrorists-living and dead.Waiting!!

    Recommend

  • Frivolous
    Dec 22, 2013 - 5:04PM

    @shah:

    “Names looks bogus….Osama Haqqani, Kashmir Khan ? Never heard of a Pakistani tribal with names like that”.

    While it may or may not be usual to have names like that in the tribal areas, it is for sure, however, that the name “shah” is not associated with Hindus. Why don’t you come clean first yourself. Isn’t your suspicion due to “Chore Ki Darhi Mein Tinka”?

    Recommend

  • Dr Zahid Khan
    Dec 22, 2013 - 6:57PM

    This Osama Haqqani was the son of Jalal u Din Haqqani, the head of haqqani network and there was a meeting going on of their commanders at their home when the guest room was struck and this Osama Haqqani was sitting with those commanders in the guest house at that time. This stupid journalist is showing it the other way around and their home was few Kms away from my home in Miran shah,

    Recommend

  • shah
    Dec 22, 2013 - 7:11PM

    @Frivolous
    I think you sabotaged your own argument by saying name “shah” is NOT associated with Hindus….lol. This report is bogus and the names in it are not what you find in tribal areas….Osama Haqqani…..no tribal has a name like that.

    Recommend

  • ddd
    Dec 22, 2013 - 7:15PM

    @NDC2:
    IK is not my leader. I am not into politics. I am web developer and understand that this is a young man’s game. What I don’t like is old people calling everyone under 40 years a boy!

    Recommend

  • ddd
    Dec 22, 2013 - 9:06PM

    @Akhtarrao:
    You seem to have me confused with somebody else. Read my comments again.

    Recommend

  • Major Iqbal
    Dec 22, 2013 - 10:22PM

    Who names their child “Kashmir Khan?”

    Recommend

  • Qaim Zaman
    Dec 22, 2013 - 11:09PM

    Good. Now that we are doing this. How about a list of all Pakistanis martyred by those for whom the drones were intended. Or are we Pakistanis lesser human beings

    Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Dec 23, 2013 - 5:54AM

    Must we make any comments which denegrade the dead, or simply say, God bless the souls of those who were killed in the drone ampaign! Let the KPK Government build a memorail as well for the unknowns.

    Rex Minor

    Recommend

  • numbersm
    Dec 23, 2013 - 9:28AM

    @Rex Minor:
    How about the souls of those killed by your TTP “resistance”???

    Recommend

  • Khyber
    Jan 11, 2014 - 12:12AM

    Good Job, Emran Jaan! :)

    Recommend

More in World