In a brilliant creative action, an art collective with the help of enthusiastic locals unfurled an enormous poster in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of a young girl who lost her parents and two younger siblings to a drone strike in August 2009.
The portrait is entitled #NotABugSplat, which is a reference to the term “bugsplat,” used by drone operators to dehumanize victims of their missile strikes. Rather than seeing small, grainy figures comparable to insects on their computer screens, drone operators who happen to fly over this heavily-bombed, rural area near the border of Afghanistan will now be confronted with the image of this innocent girl looking back at them.
Launched by a collective that includes Pakistanis, Americans and others involved with French artist JR’s Inside Out Project — in collaboration with Reprieve UK and the Foundation for Fundamental Rights — the artists involved hope to create a dozen more of these installations around Pakistan.
This art project, which has garnered significant media attention around the world, is just the latest development in the burgeoning anti-drone movement. As Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin and Kate Chandley conclude in an article that reviews some of the recent highlights, “efforts to curb the use of killer drones have made remarkable headway this year.”
While there is still much to be done, there is evidence that the mounting pressure against drones both at home and abroad is having an impact on policy. Although President Obama dramatically escalated the drone war in Pakistan over his first two years in office, the number of drone strikes and casualties peaked in 2010 and have dramatically fallen ever since.
According the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there were no confirmed civilian casualties in Pakistan in 2013 and more than 100 days have passed since the last drone strike in the country — the longest recorded pause in attacks since they began 10 years ago. And as Spencer Ackerman reported last year for Danger Room, the long boom in military spending on drones is over.
To continue to build awareness around drone strikes — and the movement to end their use — a broad coalition of organizations and individuals have organized Spring Days of Action. Their website lists dozens of creative actions planned around the country as part of this coordinated campaign over April and May.