Sana’a: Relatives of victims of US drone strikes in Yemen have come together and formed the National Organisation for Drones Victims aimed at crusading against the controversial US programme and bringing justice to victims.
The organisation is the first of its kind that brings together Yemenis who have been impacted by years of aggressive drone strikes in the troubled country.
“We formed the organisation to unite the voices of relatives and collectively rise against drones. We demand reparations to victims and bringing to accountability those responsible for killing people,” Mohammad Ali Al Gawili, head of the organisation told Gulf News on Saturday.
Al Gawili said that he lost two of his relatives in a drone strikes in Khawalan, northern Yemen in January last year. He said that his relatives had nothing to do with Al Qaida and were hit by drones when they were dropping unidentified passengers off another area”.
Backed by international and national anti-drones advocates, the organisation is planning to tour the country to register other victims and organise protests at Yemen president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi’s office.
Among the founding members of the organisation is Faisal Bin Ali Jaber whose relatives were killed in a drone strike in the village of Khashamir, Hadramout province, in August 2012. The other member is Hassan Bin Dhahman, who recently buried his son who had suffered months of trauma after allegedly watching fragmented bodies of Al Qaida members in the southern port city of Shiher.
“We have other members from drone-hit places like Mareb, Jawaf and Sana’a,” Al Gawili said.
During the inaugural ceremony of the organisation in Sana’a, the organisers put on display remnants of some drone missiles and clothes of two slain soldiers.
Despite the nationwide resentment against the US drone strikes, Yemen president recently reiterated his approval of drone strikes.
Hadi told the pan Arab Al Hayat newspaper that US drones have “greatly managed to rein in activities of Al Qaida in Yemen and using Yemen warplanes in attacking the militants have caused greater losses”.
Neither the Yemeni government nor the American’s have released figures on how many people have been killed in nearly a decade-long covert programme in Yemen. Most of figures come from NGOs that record strikes in countries where the US drones operate.
According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 293-430 people have been killed by more than 61 confirmed drone strikes in Yemen since 2002.