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Asia-pacific

Giant Pakistani art project targets US drone operators

© #NotABugSplat campaign

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-09

A group of international artists have begun placing giant posters with children's faces on the ground in Pakistan's troubled tribal regions, in a bid to generate empathy among drone operators in the US.

The art project is meant be seen from the air in order to remind US soldiers remotely operating unmanned aircraft (often thousands of kilometres away from Pakistan’s troubled tribal regions) that their victims are actual human beings.

This is why the group of anonymous Pakistani and American artists, including the French artist JR, named their campaign #NotABugSplat, as a reference to the nickname drone operators allegedly use to describe their kills.

“Humans appear as disposable bugs when viewed through a traditional drone camera. We change this. Now, a drone will see an actual face of a child, creating dialogue and, possibly, empathy”, reads a note on the group's website.

The collective has released a photograph – itself taken from the air with the use of a mini-helicopter drone – of a poster laid out in a field showing the face of a girl who lost both her parents in one of the controversial strikes in the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

‘Hundreds of civilian deaths’ in drone strikes

No region of the world has been targeted by US drones more than Pakistan's tribal districts, which border Afghanistan and are home to Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants.

The strikes are greatly opposed in Pakistan, where they are widely condemned as a violation of sovereignty causing the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of innocent people.

According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, these strikes have killed at least 2,296 people and 416 civilians. At least 168 of the victims have been children, the BIJ said.

But proponents of drones dispute the figures, and point out that the strikes have succeeded in killing high profile targets – including former Pakistani Taliban leaders Baitullah Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud.

The last drone attack took place on December 26, 2013, killing three suspected insurgents.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-04-09

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