Congressional No-Show at 'Heart-Breaking' Drone Survivor Hearing
By Lauren McCauley / commondreams.org
Oct 31, 2013

In "historic" briefing, Rehman family gives heartbreaking account of drone killing of 65-year-old grandmother... to five lawmakers

Despite being heralded as the first time in history that U.S. lawmakers would hear directly from the survivors of a U.S. drone strike, only five elected officials chose to attend the congressional briefing that took place Tuesday.

Nabila Rehman, 9, holds up a picture she drew depicting the US drone strike on her Pakistan village which killed her grandmother. (Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters) Pakistani schoolteacher Rafiq ur Rehman and his two children—9 year-old daughter Nabila and 13 year-old son Zubair—came to Washington, DC to give their account of a U.S. drone attack that killed Rafiq's mother, Momina Bibi, and injured the two children in the remote tribal region of North Waziristan last October.

According to journalist Anjali Kamat, who was present and tweeting live during the hearing, the only lawmakers to attend the briefing organized by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), were Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.).

Before the handful of reporters and scant lawmakers, however, Rafiq and his children gave dramatic testimony which reportedly caused the translator to break down into tears.

In her testimony, Nabila shared that she was picking okra with her grandmother when the U.S. missile struck and both children described how they used to play outside but are now too afraid.

"I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don't fly when sky is grey," said Zubair, whose leg was injured by shrapnel during the strike.

“My grandmother was nobody’s enemy," he added.

"Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day," Rafiq wrote in an open letter to President Barack Obama last week. "The media reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother's house. Several reported the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All reported that five militants were killed. Only one person was killed – a 65-year-old grandmother of nine."

"But the United States and its citizens probably do not know this," Rafiq continued. "No one ever asked us who was killed or injured that day. Not the United States or my own government. Nobody has come to investigate nor has anyone been held accountable."

He concluded, "Quite simply, nobody seems to care."

You can watch a recording of the briefing below and here:

The purpose of the briefing, Grayson told the Guardian, is "simply to get people to start to think through the implications of killing hundreds of people ordered by the president, or worse, unelected and unidentifiable bureaucrats within the Department of Defense without any declaration of war."

The family was joined by their legal representative Jennifer Gibson of the UK human rights organization Reprieve. Their Islamabad-based lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, was also supposed to be present but was denied a visa by the US authorities—"a recurring problem," according to Reprieve, "since he began representing civilian victims of drone strikes in 2011."

"The onus is now on President Obama and his Administration to bring this war out of the shadows and to give answers," said Gibson.

Also present was U.S. filmmaker Robert Greenwald, who first met Rafiq when he traveled to Pakistan to interview the drone strike victims for his documentary Unmanned: America's Drone Wars.  Before the briefing, Greenwald told the Guardian that he hoped the briefing "will begin the process of demanding investigation. Innocent people are being killed."

The following clip from Unmanned was shown at Tuesday's hearing:

_____________________

3.5 ·
1
Trending Today
7 Signs of Tyranny
2 min · 11,500 views today · Consider yourself warned.
Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More
Josh Jones · 7,667 views today · Why must we all work long hours to earn the right to live? Why must only the wealthy have a access to leisure, aesthetic pleasure, self-actualization…? Everyone seems to have...
How Independent is Hollywood?
4 min · 4,503 views today · A huge number of big-budget Hollywood films, especially those featuring war, conflict or terrorism, are influenced by Hollywood's close relationship with the United States...
4.1 Miles
21 min · 2,632 views today · Kyriakos Papadopoulos is a 41-year old local captain of the Greek Coast Guard. He has two wonderful young daughters Vivi and Melissa, and before the refugee crisis exploded in...
How Comedy Can Disarm Bullies
3 min · 2,429 views today · As long as you're funny, it can get you out of almost anything - even getting mugged, as co-founder of Between Two Ferns Scott Aukerman recounts. Unfortunately, not everyone...
Why Would Any of Us Want to Live like a Savage?
Juan Pablo Quinonez · 2,115 views today · Let’s not be romantic. Industrial civilization is no utopia. For every creature comfort we have, something or someone pays the price. The wilderness is no fairy tale either...
How a Lack of Touch Is Destroying Men
Mark Green · 1,834 views today · Why Men Need More Platonic Touch in their Lives
Globalization Makes No Sense
Chris Agnos · 1,227 views today · When I lived in San Francisco, I often would marvel at the movement of goods through the ports across the bay in Oakland. Full container ships would enter the bay one after...
What It Takes to Change Hearts and Minds
Colin Beavan · 1,209 views today · To get someone’s support, you need more than just facts.
Immigrants For Sale (2015)
33 min · 994 views today · The detention of migrants has become a multi-billion dollar industry in which immigrants are sold to the highest bidder and traded like mere products. The Corrections...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 948 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 891 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Touch Isolation: How Homophobia Has Robbed All Men Of Touch
Mark Greene · 879 views today · Homophobic prohibitions against male touch are hurting straight men as well.
Proof of Evolution That You Can Find on Your Body
4 min · 772 views today · Vestigial structures are evolution's leftovers — body parts that, through inheritance, have outlived the context in which they arose. Some of the most delightful reminders of...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 766 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
The Trump Report - The Real Fake News About The Dakota Access Pipeline
2 min · 631 views today · President Trump is sick of the lying fake news media, so he's doing the news himself. Today on The Trump Report: Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline (great...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 528 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 525 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
Where the Term "Redneck" Came From
15 min · 461 views today · If you don't know this story, you'll never look at the word the same again.  This is just a window into the sometimes shocking, subversive and untold history of the United...
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min · 390 views today · Can you put this video into words? It's a clip from the phenomenal documentary Samsara, directed by Ron Fricke, who also made Baraka.  If you're interested in watching...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Congressional No-Show at 'Heart-Breaking' Drone Survivor Hearing