Drones Quilt Project on display at Norwalk Public Library
By Kaitlyn Krasselt, The Hour, Norwalk, CT
At first glance, the patchwork quilt looks like any other, with its carefully sewn squares and bright colors.
Upon closer inspection, the squares are adorned with names — one for the person who sewed them and another remembering a civilian killed by U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East.
An exhibition of the U.S. Drones Quilt Project in conjunction with Veterans for Peace is on display through Oct. 30 at the Norwalk Public Library. An opening reception, attended by roughly a dozen people, was held Monday and featured noted peace activist Ed Kinane.
Each of the quilts on display was made by individuals from around the world to commemorate the civilian victims of weaponized drone strikes in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. The quilts are intended to serve as visual reminders of the civilians who’ve died as a result of U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East. Each square contains the name of its creator and the name of one victim to be memorialized. The squares are sewn together to form a quilt panel used by the U.S. Drones Quilt Project to raise awareness about civilian deaths.
Kinane’s talk Monday prompted a lively discussion and questions from the audience regarding drone use and why organizations like the United Nations have allowed drone strikes to continue, despite being considered a war crime by some.
US Drone Strikes
Pakistan 2004 onwards
Total strikes: 424
Civilians killed: 424-966
Yemen 2002 onwards
Confirmed drone strikes:133-153
Civilians killed: 65-101
Somalia 2007 onwards
Drone strikes: 31-35
Civilians killed: 3-10
Afghanistan 2015 onwards
Total strikes: 474-479
Civilians killed: 75-130
Source: The Bureau for Investigative Journalism
“Why use drones?” Kinane said. “They’re tactically very useful. There’s no crew which means there are no body bags coming back to the U.S. Drones are tireless, no human crew can do that … and they’re obedient. During the Vietnam era, particularly during the later part, the U.S. couldn’t get GI’s to do the dirty work and they become some of the best opponents to the war. You don’t have that problem with drones.”
Kinane, co-founder of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition and a contributor to the progressive website Truthout, spoke exensively about U.S. drone strikes, and the work his organization has done protesting the Air Force drone bases in upstate New York at places like Hancock Airport, which recently started daily flights of Reaper drones.
The Reaper drone is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft primarily used against moving execution targets and, secondarily, as an intelligence collection asset, according to the U.S. Air Force.
The Hancock Airport, near Syracuse, hosts the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard, which reportedly operates Reaper drones over Afghanistan. Kinane and members of the Upstate Drone Action Coalition protest several times a month at Hancock, blocking the entrance during the evening shift change. Kinane calls the demonstrations “street heat.”
“I don’t want the U.S. government, military and various intelligience agencies to have this technology because it’s only a matter of time before it comes home to roost,” Kinane said.
KKrasselt@scni.com; 203-354-1021; @kaitlynkrasselt