On Tuesday 29 October, two children who were injured in a drone attack in North West Pakistan which killed their grandmother will appear, along with their father, at a briefing in the US Congress.
Rafiq ur Rehman – a teacher in a primary school in North Waziristan – and his children Nabila (9) and Zubair (13) will attend the briefing on drones called by Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-09). Mr Rehman’s 67-year-old mother was killed in the same October 2012 strike which injured his children.
This will be the first time that members of Congress have heard testimony direct from civilian victims of the CIA’s covert drone campaign.
“I’m looking forward to hearing from the drone strike victims,” said Congressman Grayson. “When it comes to national security matters like drone strikes, it’s important that we hear not only from the proponents of these attacks, but also from the victims. They have a unique perspective to share with Congress, and I hope that my colleagues will attend this important event on October 29th.”
However, the Obama administration is continuing to block the victims’ lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, from attending the briefing, by failing to grant him a visa. Before 2010 Mr Akbar travelled regularly to the US. It was not until 2011, when he began representing victims of CIA drone strikes, that Mr Akbar began having significant difficulty getting a US visa. This current instance is the second time that the US has failed to grant Mr Akbar a visa to speak at a U.S. event.
The briefing will take place on Tuesday, October 29, at 10 AM, Eastern Standard Time; it will be held at 2237 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Notes to editors
1. The Rehman family are represented by Shahzad Akbar, a Islamabad-based lawyer and fellow of human rights charity Reprieve. For further information, or requests to interview Mr Akbar or members of the family, please contact Donald Campbell or Clemency Wells in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8161 / +44 (0) 7791 755 415 / firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com