A group of families targeted by lethal drones are writing to the UK Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, demanding to know if the government was involved in the drone strikes that killed their loved ones – the youngest victim was just three months old.
Together, we’re holding the UK government to account – check out their letter here:
Dear Secretary of State,
We write to you today to request a meeting to discuss the UK’s policy of supporting US drone strikes, which have done huge damage to our families, our communities, and our country, Yemen.
We are all families who have suffered immense loss. We have lost daughters, sons, fathers and mothers to US drone strikes that we understand could not have been taken without UK assistance. Our communities have been torn apart by missiles and our children and grandchildren live in fear. The buzzing noise above is a constant reminder that our lives could be ended in an instant, without warning.
We recently learned that the Ministry of Defence is fighting to keep secret its policy for helping the US target drone strikes. The Ministry is saying that to publish it would hurt relations with the US. We understand the US asked you not to disclose it. This of course makes us wonder what role the UK played in the deaths of our loved ones.
We would like to know: Was the UK involved in the strikes that killed our family members?
We know it has been proven already that the UK provides important support to the US drone programme. For example, we understand that British intelligence feeds directly into the targeting. British personnel embedded with US forces are allowed to fly the drones that hover over our communities. US bases in the UK play a big part in the strikes which have killed our loved ones and have led to the deaths of so many in our country.
The loved ones that have been taken from us are not ‘collateral damage’ or casualties of war. We live far from any battlefield and have no connection to militant groups of any kind. Can you tell us, face to face, that the UK played no role in the missile attacks that have ripped our families to pieces?
Nine of the 34 members of the Al Ameri and Al Taisy families killed by US drone strikes and raids were children, the youngest just three months old. Other victims include fourteen-year-old Mohamed Al Khobzi and ten-year-old Zainah Arfaj. Her brother Maeedh and her sister Sa’adah, who is just seven years old, relive the strike daily as they struggle with the pain from their own injuries.
Ahmed and Khaled bin ali Jaber were young men when a missile struck their village in 2012 and killed their uncle, Salem, and friend, Waleed. They still live with the trauma of what they saw. Ahmed’s wife cries in fear every time a drone flies overhead, and children who witnessed the strike that day suffer psychological problems as adults.
We would like to know: Was the UK involved in the strikes that killed our family members? Did UK intelligence feed into the strikes? Were our family members selected for death from US bases on British soil? And do UK pilots fly the surveillance missions that continue to terrorize our communities?
We realise Covid travel restrictions make it impossible to have this conversation in person. We would therefore appreciate it if you would meet with us via Zoom. We would be happy to accommodate your schedule.
It is our hope that once you understand the true impact of unlawful US drone strikes, you will understand why UK support to them must end, and recognise that safeguards must be put in place to prevent other innocent families from enduring the suffering we have.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Aziz Al Ameri
Mohamed Al Ameri
Saryah Al Amari
Abdullah Al Taisi
Mesa’d Al Khobzi
Abd Al Rahman Al Khobzi
Fasil Bin Ali Jaber
Ahmed Bin Ali Jaber
Khaled Bin Ali Jaber
Mohamed Al Qawli
Adel Al Manthari
Mohammed Al Qawli and the National Organisation of Drone Victims Yasmine and Intissar Al Qadi and the Mareb Girls Foundation