The other day a friend on Facebook sent me a link to a petition. These days, I seem to receive invitations to sign petitions all of the time. Sometimes I wonder if they really do any good and if the people who are the targets of influence in the petitions pay any attention at all to them, particularly when they urge them to do things that they have little interest in doing.
The petition that my friend sent me was particularly graphic and was certainly a worthy cause, a petition to stop barbaric violence against women in Pakistan in this case:
Since I wouldn’t want to sign on to a bogus petition, I did some googling to find out if the story the petition reports was verifiable. It turns out that a reputable news source, The Independent, carried the story:
The punishment was death by stoning. The crime? Having a mobile phone
Two months ago, a young mother of two was stoned to death by her relatives on the order of a tribal court in Pakistan. Her crime: possession of a mobile phone.
Arifa Bibi’s uncle, cousins and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was buried in a desert far from her village. It’s unlikely anyone was arrested. Her case is not unique. Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. And campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Women’s rights activists have launched an international campaign for a ban on stoning, which is mostly inflicted on women accused of adultery. They are using Twitter and other social media to put pressure on the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to denounce the practice.
The petition that I was invited to sign is to be presented to President Barack Obama:
Barack Obama is giving the Pakistani government $1.5 billion dollars in aid this year, not to mention probably spending many millions on drone bombings of non-combatant civilians.
WASHINGTON — The United States plans to give more than $1.5 billion in assistance to Pakistan for programs that had been blocked because of tension between the two nations over events including the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan, American officials said Saturday.
While the petition is absolutely a worthy cause and Americans should certainly reach out and demand that their government cease supporting another government that gives sanction to a heinous, barbaric act of inhumanity like stoning, one has to wonder how the withdrawl of support would be seen by the populace of a country whose women and children our government is murdering with drones.
Surely the action of cutting off support to compel Pakistan to stop the stonings would cause gales of angry laughter amongst tears of rage.
Further, considering that Mr. Obama seems to wish to continue his murderous drone campaign that has used tactics like signature strikes:
[T]hese attacks, known as “signature strikes,” drone operators fire on people whose identities they do not know based on evidence of suspicious behavior or other “signatures.” According to anonymously sourced media reports, such attacks on unidentified targets account for many, or even most, drone strikes.
and double tap dronings:
Between May 24 and July 23 2012, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was reported by multiple media sources to have carried out a number of controversial drone strikes in the FATA region of northwest Pakistan.
Across seven attacks, reports suggested the agency had deliberately targeted a mosque with worshippers inside; to have targeted funeral prayers for a victim of a previous strike; and on six occasions, to have deliberately targeted people going to rescue victims and retrieve the dead from the scene of an earlier attack – a tactic also known as a ‘double-tap’ strike.
that terrorize Pakistanis:
Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves. These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups, including important tribal dispute-resolution bodies, out of fear that they may attract the attention of drone operators. Some parents choose to keep their children home, and children injured or traumatized by strikes have dropped out of school. Waziris told our researchers that the strikes have undermined cultural and religious practices related to burial, and made family members afraid to attend funerals. In addition, families who lost loved ones or their homes in drone strikes now struggle to support themselves.
It seems likely that the Pakistani government would be far less accomodating of Mr. Obama’s drone strikes without the lubricant of billions of US dollars.
Taking a leap and assuming that such a campaign of sanctions against Pakistan would work, would Mr. Obama be willing to give up his barbaric drone campaign to stop violence against women?
My guess is probably not.
I think it’s a good idea to sign the petition. It would be an even better idea to drop Mr. Obama and your congresspeople a line and ask them to differentiate between the barbarity of stoning a woman to death for having a cellphone and killing a woman and two of her grandchildren with a hellfire missile for picking vegetables.