Only 5 Lawmakers Listen to Drone Survivors Testify
Story of grandmother's death brings translator to tears
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2013 10:17 AM CDT
Nine-year-old Nabila Rehman holds a photo with a drawing she made depicting a drone strike that killed her grandmother.   (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – The Congressional testimony of a Pakistani elementary school teacher and his children about the killing of his mother by a US drone brought the translator tasked with relaying their story to tears yesterday. The number of lawmakers who showed up to listen? Five, the Guardian reports. Rafiq ur Rehman told the small crowd that the media reported between three and five militants had been killed in the strike last year, but he says only one person died: his 67-year-old mother. Rehman's 13-year-old son, Zubair, was also injured in the attack, with shrapnel lodged in his leg. "Now I prefer cloudy days when the drones don't fly," Zubair told Congress. "When the sky brightens and becomes blue, the drones return and so does the fear."

"As a teacher, my job is to educate. But how do I teach something like this?" Rehman said, bringing his translator to tears. "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?" The hearing comes a week after the release of an Amnesty International report that claimed 900 civilians have been killed by US drone strikes, and that war crimes may have been committed. The five lawmakers who attended all called for more transparency and oversight in the program. They were: Rush Holt of New Jersey, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, John Conyers of Michigan, Rick Nolan of Minnesota, and Florida's Alan Grayson, who arranged for the hearing and described the low attendance as typical.