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This Giant Portrait Of A Child Shows Drone Operators The Human Face Of Their Victims

#NotABugSplat

This Giant Portrait Of A Child Shows Drone Operators The Human Face Of Their Victims

By Jim Waterson (BuzzFeed)

The piece was installed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, close to Pakistan’s northwest border with Afghanistan, by an art collective that includes Pakistanis, Americans and others associated with the French artist JR.

The collective says it produced the work in the hope that U.S. drone operators will see the human face of their victims in a region that has been the target of frequent strikes.

The artists titled their work “#NotABugSplat”, a reference to the alleged nickname drone pilots have for their victims.

The artists titled their work "#NotABugSplat", a reference to the alleged nickname drone pilots have for their victims.

Not A Bug Splat / Via notabugsplat.com

“Bug splat” is the term used by U.S. drone pilots to describe the death of an individual as seen on a drone camera because “viewing the body through a grainy video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed”.

The artists say that the purpose of “#NotABugSplat” is to make those human blips seem more real to the pilots based thousands of miles away: “Now, when viewed by a drone camera, what an operator sees on his screen is not an anonymous dot on the landscape, but an innocent child victim’s face.”

A spokesman for the group told BuzzFeed that the artwork would eventually be reused by the locals.

A spokesman for the group told BuzzFeed that the artwork would eventually be reused by the locals.

Not A Bug Splat / Via notabugsplat.com

“The piece was left there for as long as people decided to use the fabric for roofing and other useful purposes. The art was always meant to be utilized and not discarded after it was photographed,” says Saks Afridi, a New York-based artist and former advertising creative who is handling media enquiries on behalf of the group.

“We cannot disclose [the] exact village in order to protect the locals,” Afridi says.

"We cannot disclose [the] exact village in order to protect the locals," Afridi says.

He says the portrait was put on display “about two weeks ago”.

He says the portrait was put on display "about two weeks ago".

The piece was made in conjunction with human rights organisation Reprieve UK and the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, an organisation co-founded by Shahzad Akbar, a lawyer who has represented the families of victims of drone warfare in legislation against the CIA.

The artists say only that the picture is of a girl who lost both her parents and two siblings to U.S. drone strikes. But some people appear to have identified the child.

Think this is original of the photo used in Pakistan’s #NotABugSplatcampaign against drones http://t.co/ui2t2KVrUo

The creators hope their giant artwork will “create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators, and will create dialogue amongst policy makers, eventually leading to decisions that will save innocent lives.”

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  • Friend of Bosnia

    “Bug splat”. Wonderful. What fine, nice fellows they must be. Likewise, the Hutu called tehir Tutsi victims “cockroaches” during the Rwandan genocide. Such people can be hardly any better.

  • Rights

    Regarding Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Brandeis – HURRAY.

    “Brandeis Cancels Plan to Give Honorary Degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Critic of Islam,” by RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA and TANZINA VEGAAPRIL 8, 2014, The New York Times.

  • Nur Alia binti Ahmad

    It is a great notion, but I am afraid that when a society teaches it’s citizens that people not like them are ‘bug splats’, humanity means nothing to them.

    They have been taught to shoot, and where ever the bomb lands, and whoever it murders, it simply becomes ‘the target’

    …but Muslims are the terrorists…you understand.

  • Nur Alia binti Ahmad

    The reason Pakistan cant do anything with regards to it’s military is…it doesn’t belong to them and never has.

    From day one, Pakistan has been a western puppet, supported, armed, and protected by the west.

    Pakistan is no more than a military parking space for western controlled nuclear weapons…that is why they haven’t been destroyed.

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  • Rights

    And as for dismembering Pakistan, let the point not be lost on the dreamers that once was once too many. Remember 1971. Pakistan shall not remain besieged by internal and external players.

  • Rights

    Thanks, Alan.

  • Iman

    Words can’t describe my sadness over theses people. May Allah compensate them in the life after.

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  • Rights

    As a “war on terror” tactic, drones proved a lesser evil than the other option, namely outright bombing raids with B-52s, B-1s, B-2s, F-16s, F-15Es, AH-64s, and the like. The outright bombing option would have inevitably led to an all out war with Pakistan, a war that Pakistan would have lost in a relatively short time. And no, Pakistan would not have shifted to the use of nuclear weapons from fear that the US and NATO would completely do it in. I have no doubt that precisely for these reasons the drone attacks have had a tacit approval of the Pakistani government and military.

    That said, the reality is that drones have been killing a lot of civilians. They hold a certain terror over the people in that part of Pakistan. Every drone that returns empty of its load has innocent blood on it. Every pilot that operates such a drone has innocent blood on his hands. Every commander who approves of attacks that result in innocent deaths has innocent blood on his hands. There is no moral high ground here.

  • Omar_the_Egyptian

    surface to air missiles are just as effective. Given Pakistan’s military spending and the fact these have no humans piloting them this works for all involved. Oh wait the Pakistani government is in the hands of the U.S.A never mind.

  • mindy1

    Aww :'( the problem is that in war people on all sides tend to dehumanize the other. That is why during WWI during the truce it was the commanders who got angry-both sides began to see the other as human, and were reluctant o fight. Too bad during this conflict something like that has not happend

  • LiesYouTell

    Those drone pilots are sickos!

  • John Smith

    Simply amazing. Bravo to them.

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