Drone Victims Tell Empty US House Their Story; Is America Listening? by Rania Khalek, Truthout, November 1, 2013.
Rep. Alan Grayson invited a Pakistani family to testify October 29 at the US House of Representatives how drones killed the family's beloved mother and grandmother. Only 5 Congressmen attended.
Kudos to the 5 who listened to the drone victims:
1. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)
2. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D- Ill.)
3. Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ)
4. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.)
5. Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.)
Ironically, but sadly predictably, President Obama was scheduled to meet two CEOs of drone manufacturers the day after their tragic testimony: Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman. Lockheed Martin made the hellfire missile that killed their beloved grandmother, Mamana Bibi.
President Obama and 430 Congressmen did not listen to Rafiq ur Rehman, a school teacher, tell how his mother was killed by a drone while picking okra in her garden with eight of her grandchildren, two of whom made the 7,000 mile journey to our nation's Capitol with their father to testify before a virtually empty Congress.
They didn't hear Rehman's son, Zubair testify how he and his sister saw the drone overhead, but didn't worry, because he and his family were not militants.
13 year old grandson, Zubair:
"My grandmother was blown up into pieces, and I got injured in my leg," he told Truthout. "At the funeral, everyone was trying to console me, saying, 'We all lost a grandmother.' There was no one else like her. She would always make sure that we would have something to eat, and she would always make our favorite meals or buy our favorite fruits from the market."
Blue skies make Zubair feel dread now, because drones do not come on cloudy days.
They didn't hear Nabila, Zubair's sister, report how she saw the drone cast bright lights targeting her grandmother and heard the "dum dum" noise it made as it was hovering over the innocent midwife before everything went dark and smelled "weird" after the hellfire missile struck the elderly woman and how Nabila ran and ran away in terror.
9 year old granddaughter, Nabila:
"I felt some pain in my hand. When I looked, it was bleeding. I tried to bandage it and wipe it with my scarf to stop the bleeding but the blood just kept coming out. I had lost a lot of blood. Next thing I know I ended up in a hospital and it was evening time."Nabila always feels terror now.
The President and most of Congress didn't hear the Pakistani school teacher's sad and horrific story about the assassination of his mother:
"Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day," he continued. "Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother's house. Others reported that the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All of them reported that three, four, five militants were killed. But only one person was killed that day.
"All my neighbors and relatives were telling me to come immediately to the mosque because they were going to start the prayers. But I said no, I want to go to my house, I want to see my mom's face before they bury her to rest. They were telling me that no, you don't want to see the condition she is in," said Rehman. "Later, I realized that because she was blown to pieces, they collected whatever they could and put it in a box. I wanted to see my mom's face for the last time but they had taken her remains and put it into a box."The Rehman family has had to sell their land and go into debt to pay the medical bills to surgically remove shrapnel from Zubair's leg, but the US has yet to compensate them for the drone strike.
Rehman has stressed that he came to Washington to seek justice and humanity, not money to pay for his family's medical expenses and loss, and, indeed, no one has offered to help him financially from our government. Of the $40 million set aside to compensate innocent civilians hurt or killed by the US abroad, not a penny has been given to help any Pakistani victim of drone strikes these past 4 years.
Amnesty International estimates 900 innocent Pakistanis have been killed by drones in strikes that violate international law.
The Rehman's attorney, Shahzad Akbar, who represents over a hundred fifty Pakistani drone victims, was refused a visa to enter the US and attend the Congressional hearing with the family.
Akbar expressed disappointment with Obama, for whom he once had high hopes, because he approves of drone strikes that are supposedly vetted, which kill more and more innocent civilians, one after the other.
Alan Grayson was the only Congressman out of the 4 who attended the family's hearing to answer the question whether drone strikes that kill innocent civilians constitute war crimes. He said he did not think the strike was a war crime, because the innocent victims were not deliberately targeted.
Jennifer Gibson, a Reprieve attorney, begs to differ with Grayson, stating that intention alone is not the basis for a war crime. She points out that disproportionate civilian casualties amounts to deliberate negligence when a grandmother and eight of her grandchildren are targeted by drones.
Rehman, a school teacher, brought his translator to tears, speaking of his difficulty teaching others why drones are attacking his region when he can't comprehend it himself. His own son, after two surgeries to remove shrapnel from his leg and seeing his grandmother killed, is afraid to play cricket or go to school. Stanford and NYU studies have found that drone victims often drop out of school, and the entire community suffers tremendous anxiety and terror with drones flying over them constantly.
Rafiq ur Rehman, son of Momina Bibi, killed by a hellfire missile that injured all three of his children:
Drone strikes are not like other battles where innocent people are accidentally killed. Drone strikes target people before they kill them. The United States decides to kill someone, a person they only know from a video. A person who is not given a chance to say – I am not a terrorist. The US chose to kill my mother.An elderly midwife, who brings life into the world, had her life taken by a video controlled killing machine that targeted her while she was picking life sustaining food from her garden, caring for her grandchildren, and what does our President say about his drone strikes?
According to Double Down: Game Change 2012, by Presidential aides, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Obama allegedly quietly told his aides that he's "really good at killing people."
Being good at killing grandmothers and injuring their grandchildren is something that should stop.
The drone victims should be compensated for their loss, and the program should end before another innocent life is ended.