London (MAMOSA Report) April 9: Earlier this year, a US Department of Defence study found that the US pilots of drones have developed stress disorders as much as those in combat do – suffering mental health problems including post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety.
In order to maintain their emotional distance from their targets, the software US government is using to assess the number of casualties is referred to in government circles as ‘Bug Splat.’
In Pakistan, one campaign group has set out to address this by using a poster on the ground in a drone targeted region of Pakistan.
British daily The Independent reports that, giant ‘Not A Bug Splat’ art installation takes aim at the US predator drone operators who attack targets inside Pakistan.
Around 900 adult civilians have been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan, along with an estimated 330 children, in operations that Amnesty International has said often targeted unarmed victims and could amount to war crimes.
The 90 by 60 feet vinyl image shows the face of a child whose parents were killed in one such attack.
The picture is laid out in a field in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
Speaking to The Independent a representative of the #NotABugSplat group said the aim of the project was to “humanise” drone attacks, and was inspired “after learning the fact that drone operators refer to kills as ‘bug splats’.”
The aim of the poster is to challenge the insensitivity to drone strike victims as well as raising awareness of civilian casualties: “The piece was laid out in KPK province about 2 weeks ago into the field by village locals.”
“It was left there until people decided to use the fabric for roofing and other useful purposes.”
According to the group’s website: “The group of artists traveled inside KPK province and, with the assistance of highly enthusiastic locals, unrolled the poster amongst mud huts and farms.”
“It is their hope that this will create empathy and introspection amongst drone operators, and will create dialogue amongst policy makers, eventually leading to decisions that will save innocent lives.”
“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.”