A Pakistani family made history in Washington D.C. when they testified on their experience witnessing and surviving a drone attack in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Three members of the family--Rafiq ur-Rehman and his children, 9-year-old Nabeela and 13-year-old Zubair--told their story in front of a handful Congressman at a hearing convened by Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL).
It was the first time that drone strike victims told their stories to U.S. elected officials at a hearing.
The hearing opened with a film clip from Robert Greenwald’s new documentary titled “Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars,” a movie that documents the civilian death toll of U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan. Hundreds of civilians have died by the hands of American drones, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks drone strikes. Greenwald, who sits on AlterNet’s board, also spoke at the hearing.
The story of the Rehman family was documented in an Amnesty International report released last week that criticized the U.S. for shielding its drone program from public scrutiny and for violating the laws of war. Amnesty International confirmed that a number of civilians have been killed by American drone strikes, in contrast to U.S. officials’ claims about low civilian casualties.
The Rehmans told the Washington audience about the death of Mamana Bibi. While she was picking okra, a drone fired missiles at their home, killing Mamana and injuring Nabeela and Zubair. “ It was like she was exploded to pieces,” Zubair told theHuffington Post’s Matt Sledge.
The Rehmans say they have no links to anti-American militants in Pakistan. They don’t know why a drone strike was fired at them. A Pakistani government source told Amnesty International that the strike may have been caused by “the bad luck of a Taliban member using a phone on a nearby road just before the strike,” as Sledge writes.
The family has not received any compensation from the U.S. for the strike. The CIA and the White House do not acknowledge specific drone strikes.
“I am a human being,” Rafiq Rehman told the Huffington Post. “I just came here to speak the truth and I want people to know that I have children who have been injured."