A translator at a Capitol Hill hearing on the U.S. drone program was moved nearly to tears Tuesday during the testimony of Pakistani primary school teacher Rafiq Rehman. Rehman and his family — whose story was revealed to the world by Amnesty International — traveled to Washington from Pakistan’s northern Waziristan region. The teacher’s mother was killed in a U.S. drone strike and his two children were injured.
The family’s congressional appearance was held in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill and was sponsored in by the Brave New Foundation, a global nonprofit social justice foundation. Brave New Films has just released the documentary film “Unmanned: America’s Drone War,” which details the Rehman family’s losses.
“Congressman Grayson,” said Rehman via a translator, “As a teacher, my job is to educate. But how do I teach something like this?”
“How do I explain what I myself do not understand?” he continued. “How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drone will not come back and kill them, too? If I do not understand why it killed my mother and injured my children…”
It was there that the translator broke off and took a hasty swallow of water as she choked up. Rehman spoke again.
“My mother is not the first innocent victim of U.S. drones,” relayed the translator, “Numerous families in our community and in the surrounding area have lost loved ones — including women and children — in these strikes over the years.”
In October of 2012, Rehman’s mother and two children were picking okra in a community garden when the grandmother was shot down by missiles from a U.S. predator drone. Both children were also injured and have since suffered from nightmares, panic attacks and anxiety that drones will come back and kill them.
The Brave New Foundation, Amnesty International and other rights groups have banded together to demand an end to the drone program and to the thick blanket of secrecy surrounding it.
Watch the video, embedded below via YouTube:
Watch the Rehman family’s full testimony, embedded below via the Brave New Foundation:
Watch the trailer for “Unmanned,” embedded below via the Brave New Foundation: