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UNMANNED - America's Drone Wars - New Film!!

One year ago, a 67-year-old Pakistani woman was killed by an alleged U.S. drone while picking vegetables in a field with her grandchildren on October 24, 2012. The United States has never acknowledged killing her or any other drone strike victims in Pakistan, always claiming that it is militants locked in the crosshairs. This week, her son and two of her grandchildren traveled to Washington, D.C., to become the first drone victims to testify before members of Congress even though only five Democrats appeared at the hearing. Live in studio, we speak to Rafiq Rehman and his two children, nine-year-old Nabila and 13-year-old Zubair, both of whom were injured in the strike. "I don't understand why this happened to me. I have done nothing wrong," Zubair says. "What I would like to say to the American people is: Please tell your government to end these drones, because it is disrupting our lives."


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As we continue our special on U.S. drone strikes, we turn now to the killing of a 67-year-old Pakistani grandmother last year. In a moment, we'll be joined by her son and two grandchildren, nine-year-old Nabila and 13-year-old Zubair. But first, another clip from Unmanned: America's Drone Wars.
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] My name is Rafiq ur Rehman. I am a primary school teacher. I've been teaching for 10 years. We strive to eradicate illiteracy so our children can be educated and have a bright future. This is my daughter Nabila. This is my daughter Asma. Zubair ur Rehman is my son. We have our own land and grow our own food.
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] People enjoyed life before the attacks.
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] It was 2:45 p.m. on October 24th of 2012. After school finished, I went into town to buy school supplies.
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] I was in the fields tying up bundles.
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] I got back in the car and bought sweets for the children.
KALIM UR REHMAN: [translated] When I got home, I was drinking tea. After the first sip, the drone hit. The house shook.
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] The dust flew.
ATIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] The roof shook, and the ground trembled.
ASMA UR REHMAN: [translated] I ran. Then I got hit.
KALIM UR REHMAN: [translated] I ran out, and there was all this dust and smoke.
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] I was hit from behind and wounded.
ASMA UR REHMAN: [translated] Then I ran to the house. I was bleeding, and I got bandaged.
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] I knew there would be a second strike.
KALIM UR REHMAN: [translated] Usually drones strike a second time after five or 10 minutes.
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] It's to kill the relatives who come out to help.
UNIDENTIFIED: [translated] Then five minutes later it came again.
KALIM UR REHMAN: [translated] Then I fell down right there, and I thought I was dying. And I was shouting, "I am dying!"
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] The injured children had been taken to various hospitals for treatment.
ROBIN PAGNAMENTA: The attack was October the 24th. I came from Islamabad and interviewed the family in Peshawar clinic. Well, in general, you know, the sense was that the family had had a very traumatic experience and were very upset.
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] These are the x-rays of the children who were hit by the drone. This is the x-ray of my nephew, whose leg was broken in the attack. They operated on him. These are the iron rods that they put in his legs.
ATIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] When I reached the house, I saw my mother's sandal lying on the ground. When I saw her sandal, I knew that she had died. Neighbors told me she had been thrown about 25 feet away. That's when I saw my mother on the ground. And I ran towards her, but the neighbors wouldn't let me near her. They said, "You cannot see this." She had so many wounds.
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] My mother was brutally killed. That's where my mother was killed. She was, as the saying goes, "like a treasure of prayers." I used to discuss all my problems with her. She used to console me, and I would forget my worries. My family has been destroyed since my mother was killed.
ROBIN PAGNAMENTA: Atiq and Rafiq, whose mother had been killed in this attack, you know, obviously, as anyone would be, they were angry, and they were very upset.
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] The blasts were very powerful. They have damaged the rooms badly. This one's got cracks in it. This needs to be fixed so it doesn't fall during the rains. Before these attacks started, there was peace and happiness in our area. When these drone attacks started and our mother was killed, they destroyed our entire family. They have wreaked havoc on our lives and happiness.
DR. RIZWANTAJ: You have people living in constant fear that they're not safe in their own homes or in their streets or in their locality. They live in fear that they would be attacked and they could die or their children or their property or their land could be seriously affected.
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] They buzz around 24 hours a day, so I'm always scared. I cannot sleep.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: An excerpt from Robert Greenwald's new film, Unmanned: America's Drone Wars.
We're joined now by the Rehman family, who have just traveled to the United States from Pakistan. On Tuesday, they became the first victims of U.S. drone war to address members of Congress on Capitol Hill. We are now joined by Rafiq ur Rehman and his 13-year-old son Zubair and his nine-year-old daughter Nabila. For our TV viewers, we're showing some of the pictures that Nabila drew of the U.S. drones flying above her home in Pakistan. Both children were wounded in the drone attack that killed their grandmother. Their translator is Michelle Khilji.
Welcome, all of you, to Democracy Now! I'd like to start with you, theyour reaction when you first heard of the attack on your mother and your children?
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] I had gone to Miranshah to buy some things from the bazaar. And so, then, when I returned, I had noticed that in the graveyard on the outskirts of our village, they were preparing for a burial. I had asked some little children who they were preparing the burial for. And they said, "This Latif Rehman's mother." And that's my older brother. So I knew at that point that my mother had been killed by an American drone.
AMY GOODMAN: Zubair, you are 13. You were with your grandmother picking okra. It was the day before Eid. Describe what happened.
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] I had gone to school that day, and when I came back, I had a snack, and I offered my prayers. And my grandma asked me to come outside and help her pick the vegetables.
AMY GOODMAN: You were hit by this drone that killed your grandmother?
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] Yes, I had seen a drone, and two missiles hit down where my grandmother was standing in front of me. And she was blown into pieces, and I was injured to my left leg.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Nabila, the two of you were not the only ones of your family that were injured, as well. Could you talk about yourwhat happened to you, what you recall, and your reaction?
NABILA UR REHMAN: [translated] It was the day before Eid, so I was outside with my grandmother, and she was teaching me how to tell the difference between okra that was ripe and not ripe. We were going to prepare it for our Eid dinner the next day. And then I had heard a dum-dum noise. Everything became dark. And I had seen two fireballs come down from the sky.
AMY GOODMAN: You all testified before Congress. You were one of the first people to do this. Rafiq Rehman, what is your message to America?
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] What I'd like to say to them is: Please find a way to end these drones, because it's not only affecting me and my children, and it's not only because they were injured; it's affecting their future. I feelI worry that their education will be disrupted and that they will not want to continue.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And were you everhave you ever been contacted either by U.S. government officials or by the Pakistani government officials to explain to you whywhy this attack occurred?
AMY GOODMAN: Why your mother was killed?
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] I did communicate with a local political officer of my village to find a reason and answer, but he was unable to give me an answer.
AMY GOODMAN: Have you been compensated for the death of your mother, for your children's grandmother?
RAFIQ UR REHMAN: [translated] No one has given me anything.
AMY GOODMAN: Zubair, what did your grandmother, Mamina Bibi, mean to you?
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] My grandmother, there was no one else like her. She was full of love. And when she passed away, all my friends told me that "You weren't the only one who lost a grandmother; we all lost a grandmother," because everyone knew her in the village.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Nabila, you're nine years old. How have things changed for you since the attack? How's yourgoing out again, out into the fields alone, do you fear again other possible attacks?
NABILA UR REHMAN: [translated] Ever since the strike, I'm just scared. I'm always scared. All of us little kids, we're just scared to go outside.
AMY GOODMAN: Do you fear another strike, Zubair? You have had numerous operations on your leg. Your message to America?
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] I am scared, because of what has happened to me, ever since then. And, you know, I don't understand why this has happened to me. I've done nothing wrong.
AMY GOODMAN: Your message to America?
ZUBAIR UR REHMAN: [translated] What I'd like to say to the American people is: Please tell your government to end these drones, because it's disrupting our lives.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

Members of Congress Avoid First-Ever Testimony by Pakistani Drone War Victims

Thursday, October 31, 2013

[Image: a8bc15a0-69a4-41b3-8fd3-545067b461d9.jpeg?app=278]
9-year-old Nabila Rehman at House of Representatives briefing (AP Photo)
For the first time since the United States began using drones to attack foreign enemies, members of Congress had the chance this week to hear directly from civilian survivors of such attacks at a special hearing.
But only five lawmakers bothered to show up.
The five representativesall Democratswere: Alan Grayson of Florida, John Conyers of Michigan, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Rush Holt of New Jersey, and Rick Nolan of Minnesota.
They heard from a Pakistani schoolteacher, Rafiq ur Rehman, and his two children, who traveled to Washington, DC, to describe the U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan on October 24, 2012, that killed Rafiq's mother, midwife Momina Bibi, and injured his two offspring.
Using a translator, the survivors talked about their experience, and how it changed their lives.
"I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer grey skies. Drones don't fly when sky is grey," Zubair ur Rehman, 13, said, adding that his leg was injured by shrapnel during the strike.
At one point in the testimony, the translator broke down in tears while relaying the family's ordeal.
Grayson invited the guests to appear before Congress, telling The Guardian that the hearing was intended "simply to get people to start to think through the implications of killing hundreds of people ordered by the president, or worse, unelected and unidentifiable bureaucrats within the Department of Defense without any declaration of war."
"Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day," Rafiq wrote in an open letter to President Barack Obama prior to the testimony. "The media reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother's house. Several reported the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All reported that five militants were killed. Only one person was killeda 65-year-old grandmother of nine."
"But the United States and its citizens probably do not know this," he continued. "No one ever asked us who was killed or injured that day. Not the United States or my own government. Nobody has come to investigate nor has anyone been held accountable. Quite simply, nobody seems to care.
"Bombs create only hatred in the hearts of people. And that hatred and anger breeds more terrorism."
The family's effort to travel to the U.S. to testify made news prior to the hearing when the State Department refused to grant a visa to their lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, who has been an outspoken critic of the U.S. drone war in Pakistan.
With their attorney prevented from entering the U.S., the family was joined by Jennifer Gibson of Reprieve, a British human rights organization.
-Noel Brinkerhoff

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
The leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, has been killed in a drone strike, a high-ranking Taliban official has told the BBC.
The strike targeted a vehicle used by Mehsud with four missiles in the north-western region of North Waziristan.
Four other people were killed in the strike, including two of Mehsud's bodyguards, intelligence sources say.
Several previous claims of his death, made by US and Pakistani intelligence sources, have proven untrue.
Continue reading the main story


[Image: _57534078_khan.jpg]M Ilyas KhanBBC News, Islamabad
Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed one day before Pakistani officials say they were scheduled to send a three-member team to start peace negotiations with the Taliban.
Pakistan's interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar, told a local TV news channel, Geo, that the drone strike was an attempt to "sabotage" Pakistan's peace talks with Taliban.
But many believe Mehsud's death will leave the field open for groups that are known to have publicly favoured a rapprochement with Pakistan.
One of these groups is headed by Khan Said Sajna, the successor of Waliur Rehman, a militant commander who favoured talks with Islamabad and once contested for the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). Rehman was killed in a drone strike in May.
Mr Sajna is one of those now tipped to succeed Mehsud as the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

Friday's strike targeted Mehsud's vehicle in the Dande Darpakhel, some 5km (3miles) north of the region's main town, Miranshah.
A senior US intelligence official told the Associated Press that the US received positive confirmation on Friday morning that he had been killed.
Hakimullah Mehsud had come to prominence in 2007 as a commander under the militant group's founder Baitullah Mehsud, with the capture of 300 Pakistani soldiers adding to his prestige among the militants.
In January 2010 he gained further notoriety when he appeared in a video alongside a Jordanian who is said to have blown himself up, killing seven CIA agents in Afghanistan to avenge Baitullah Mehsud's death.
Hakimullah Mehsud had a $5m FBI bounty on his head and was thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
Mehsud became leader of the Pakistani Taliban in 2009, aged 30, after his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike at his father-in-law's residence in South Waziristan.
The strike against Baitullah Mehsud reportedly came after repeated complaints by Pakistani officials that the Americans were not hitting militant groups who attacked targets in Pakistan.
[Image: _70387070_70387069.jpg]

Hakimullah Mehsud spoke exclusively to the BBC in a recent interview

His second-in-command, Waliur Rehman, died in a drone strike in May.
Continue reading the main story

Hakimullah Mehsud

  • Became overall leader of Pakistani Taliban in 2009, aged 30, after his predecessor died in a US drone strike
  • Masterminded campaign against Nato convoys in Khyber tribal region and Peshawar
  • Emerged as a prominent fighter after reputedly leading a raid that captured 300 soldiers
  • US authorities had $5m bounty on his head

The attack targeting him comes on the same day that the Pakistani government announced it was about to send a delegation to North Waziristan to try to get peace negotiations with the Taliban under way.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had pledged to talk with the Taliban to try to end its campaign of violence, which has left thousands dead in bombings and shootings across the country.
In a rare interview with the BBC two weeks ago, Mehsud said he was open to "serious talks" with the government but said he had not yet been approached.
Mehsud denied carrying out recent deadly attacks in public places, saying his targets were "America and its friends".
He had loose control over more than 30 militant groups in Pakistan's tribal areas.
[Image: _70861100_pakistan_waziristan_map_624(2)usethis.jpg]
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass

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