Transcript: Rafiqul Rehman’s remarks on civilian drone strike victims – Oct. 29, 2013
Partial transcript of remarks by Rafiqul Rehman, a teacher in North Waziristan whose mother Mamana Bibi was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Oct. 24, 2012. Mr. Rehman’s children were also injured in that strike. His remarks were delivered via a translator at a congressional briefing on Oct. 29, 2013:
Congressman Grayson, thank you for inviting me to speak. Thank you also for everything you did to try to help our lawyers, Shahzad Akbar, obtain a visa. While in the end we did not succeed, it is reassuring to me that some members of the U.S. government were trying to shed light on a terrifying [events]…[incomprehensible audio]…
My name is Rafiqul Rehman.
On Oct. 24, 2012 a CIA drone killed my 67-year-old mother and injured my children and those of my brothers.
Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day. Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car but there’s no road alongside my mother’s house. Others reported that the attack was on our house but the missile hit a nearby field, not the house. All of them reported that 3, 4, 5 militants were killed
But only one person was killed that day – Mamana Bibi – a grandmother, a midwife, who was preparing to celebrate the Islamic holiday of Eid. Not a militant but my mother.
In Urdu, we have a saying literally translated means “the string that holds the poles together”. That is what my mother was. She was the string that held our family together. Since her death, this string has been broken and life has not been the same. We feel alone and we feel lost.
Four of my children were injured that day and four of our brother’s children. We have had to borrow money and sell land to pay for the children’s medical treatment. There has been no compensation to help with these bills. The Pakistani government accepted my claim and confirmed the details but said it is not responsible; the U.S. is.
I am a primary school teacher in my community. I come from a family of teachers. Both of my brothers are teachers, and my father is a retired headmaster.
Congressman Grayson, 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? How can I in good faith reassure the children that the drones would not come back and kill them too? If I do not understand why it killed my mother and injured my children?
My mother is not the first innocent victim of U.S. drones. Numerous families living in my community…have also lost loved ones, including women and children, in these strikes over the years.
Dozens of people in my tribe that I know are merely ordinary tribesmen have been killed. They have suffered just like I have. I wish they have such an opportunity as well to come tell you their stories. Until they can, I speak on their behalf as well. Drones are not the answer.
In the end, I would just like to ask the American public to treat us as equals. Make sure that your government gives us the same status as a human with basic rights as they do to their own citizens.
We do not kill our cattle the way the U.S. is killing humans – those airstrikes with drones. This indiscriminate killing has to end and justice must be delivered to those who have suffered at the hands of unjust.
- Transcript: Rep. Alan Grayson’s remarks on civilian drone strike victims – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s remarks on civilian drone strike victims – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Brave New Foundation President Robert Greenwald’s remarks on civilian drone strike victims – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Rafiqul Rehman’s remarks on civilian drone strike victims – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Zubair Rehman’s remarks on civilian drone strike victims – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Nabeela Rehman’s remarks on civilian drone strike victims – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Reprieve Staff Attorney Jennifer Gibson’s remarks on civilian drone strike victims – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Rep. Alan Grayson’s Q&A with Rafiqul Rehman on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Rep. Rush Holt on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan – Oct. 29, 2013
- Transcript: Press Q&A on civilian victims of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan – Oct. 29, 2013
- warcosts.com: Congressional briefing on drones victims – Oct. 29, 2013
- Amnesty International: “Will I Be Next?” US Drone Strikes in Pakistan
- Human Rights Watch: Between a Drone and Al Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen