A new documentary film released Wednesday tells the stories of Pakistani citizens allegedly injured and killed by the United States’ drone program. It’s called "Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars." CCTV’s Jessica Stone sat down with a man who lost his mother in a drone attack, and the film-maker who told his story.
38-year-old Rafiq ur Rehman was best known in his small village in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan for being a teacher to local children.
Now, his story is teaching a global audience the personal cost of America’s drone attacks through this new documentary.
But on October 24, 2012, he lost his mother when he says, an American drone dropped a missile above her,killing her and injuring nine children, including three of his own. Rafiq had just returned from shopping for the festival of Eid.
On Tuesday, Rafiq and his children told five members of the U.S. Congress their story. They want an end to the U.S. drone program in Pakistan. It targets terror suspects, using intelligence and behavior analysis, but by some accounts, has also killed hundreds of innocent civilians.
"I was very scared, and all I could think of doing is just run. I kept running but I heard... I felt something in my hand, and I looked to my hand. There was blood." said Nabila Rehaman, 9-year-old drone strike survivor.
Filmmaker Robert Greenwald began working on the documentary, "Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars" in 2011. He says despite repeated requests, he was never able to discover why the drone targeted Rafiq’s mother.
In April 2012, U.S. President Barack Obama’s then-chief counter-terrorism advisor, John Brennan, declared the nation’s drone program legal.
A year later, the U.S. released new drone guidelines requiring more evidence for targeting that could reduce the number of strikes based on behavioral analysis rather than a confirmed identity.
So far this year, the New America Foundation has counted just 21 drone strikes in Pakistan, the lowest number under the Obama administration which has made their use a signature tool in its counter-terrorism strategy, favoring them over troops on the ground.
For now, "Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars" is a free documentary for anyone to watch online. And Rehman and Greenwald hope it will spur action around the world, but especially from the US Government.
Rafiq’s message won’t stop with this documentary release. In the coming month, there will be a tour of colleges around the United States as well as another visit and address to the British parliament.