Yemeni families sue US government over “unlawful” killing of 34 relatives

Two Yemeni families have filed a petition against the US government over the “unlawful” killing of 34 relatives, including nine children, in counterterrorism operations between 2013 and 2018.

Human rights group Reprieve, submitted the petition which stated the families suffered enormous loss of life and property in six drone strikes and a special operations raid. The submission was made to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the families.

Of those killed, 34 were members of the Al-Ameri and Al-Taisy families, who are requesting the commission urge the US government to take immediate measures to prevent further harm.

“It is averred that the seven attacks at issue have resulted in the unlawful killing of at least 48 people, including 17 children, and serious injury of at least seven others, as well as the destruction of their personal property and livelihoods,” the AFP quoted the petition.

The first strike, which took place in December 2013 under the administration of Barack Obama, targeted a wedding procession convoy, killing at least 12 people, including seven Al-Ameri family members and five people from the Al-Taisy family, according to the filing.

A local security official at the time told AFP some of the dead were suspected members of al-Qaeda.

The Al-Ameri and Al-Taisy families deny any connection to the armed group.

“What the families are hoping for from the commission is, first and foremost, recognition of the harm that’s been done to them,” Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer with Reprieve, told AFP on Thursday.

“They’ve tried time and time again to engage the Yemeni and US governments to stop the strikes, and yet they’ve continued. The commission, for them, is a last resort to try to put forward evidence to say ‘you’re making a mistake, whatever you think it is we’ve done, we’ve not done, please stop the strikes’.”

The petition comes just days after US President Joe Biden took office and it puts the spotlight on America’s long-running bombing campaign against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).