Two “grown-ups” speak out against drones. Will the “children” listen?
In the past several weeks two “grown-ups” – Nabila Rehman (age 9) and Malala Yousafzai (16) – have journeyed to Washington, DC to speak eloquently and with first-hand expertise on the devastating and counter-productive effects of the United States use of drones.
Will the children in Congress and the White House listen and learn?
Rafiq Rehman and his two children testify about the day a drone murdered his mother; five lawmakers attend.
… Zubair knew the drones were circling overhead; he has known their distinctive buzzing since he was even younger — a methodical zung, zung, zung, he says.
“It’s something that even a 2-year-old would know,” he said in Pashto, speaking to Al Jazeera through a translator. “We hear the noise 24 hours a day.”
Before the missile hit, he remembers hearing two clicks, like a trigger being pulled. Suddenly, day seemed to turn to night as they were enveloped in darkness and heat. Their grandmother, Momina Bibi, was thrown 20 feet away and killed instantly.
Zubair, Nabila and the other children wounded in the attack were taken to a hospital. Zubair had shrapnel lodged in his leg — an injury that would take expensive laser surgeries to heal — while Nabila looked down to see her hand bleeding.
“I tried to bandage my hand but the blood wouldn’t stop,” she said. “The blood kept coming.”
Momina Bibi’s wounds were so severe that neighbors would not allow her sons to see the body, said Rafiq, a primary schoolteacher in Pakistan who was in town buying school supplies and sweets when the attack happened.
In the days and weeks after, Rafiq said the newspapers reported that militants had been killed in the strike. As far as he knows, his mother was the sole fatality. He has never received an answer from the Pakistani or U.S. governments about why she was targeted or whether the strike was a mistake…
… What compelling interest did the U.S. government have in murdering a grandmother of nine and a midwife who helped deliver babies in the village, Rehman asked them. How can he reassure his children that the drones will not come back?
“I no longer love blue skies,” Zubair said. “In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray…”
“… I hope I can return home with a message,” he said. “I hope I can tell my community that Americans listened.”
Sixteen-Year-Old Malala Yousafzai Warns Obama: ‘Drone Attacks Are Fueling Terrorism’ – ThinkProgress, Aviva Shen, October 14, 2013
“… I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,” she said in the statement. “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”
The official White House statement about the meeting did not mention this comment, instead declaring that the U.S. “joins with the Pakistani people and so many around the world to celebrate Malala’s courage and her determination to promote the right of all girls to attend school and realize their dreams.”