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"They Destroyed Our Entire Family": Pakistani Survivors of U.S. Drone Strike Speak Out

The Rehman family are the first drone victims to testify before members of Congress.

The Rehman family in the Democracy Now! studio.
Photo Credit: Democracy Now!


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.

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