To: U.S. Department of State
My Mother Was Killed by a U.S. Drone
In 2012, my 67 year-old Mother was killed by a U.S. drone strike, and now the State Department is preventing us from sharing our story with the American public and Legislature.
Please urge the Department of State to immediately approve a visa for our lawyer, Shahzad Akbar, so that he may escort my family to the United States and allow Congress to hear the first hand account of what it is like living under drones.
Why is this important?
My name is Rafiq ur Rehman and I am a schoolteacher from Pakistan. In 2012, a United States drone killed my 67 year-old Mother, Momina, while she was working in the field picking vegetables. The drone that killed my mother also injured my children. After sharing my story with Robert Greenwald for his upcoming film, Unmanned, I was invited to testify in front of members of Congress about the impact that drone strikes have had on my family and the people of Pakistan. My two children and I were issued visas within days of applying, but our lawyer and liaison, Shahzad Akbar has been placed in ‘administrative processing’ and is not being issued a visa.
Mr. Akbar is a UK trained barrister who represents my family in our drone case as well as over 100 other civilian victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan. While working with Reprieve, Shahzad has done heroic and critical work encouraging us to use the rule of law to settle our grievances. Before he began representing civilian victims in 2010, he used to travel regularly in the United States. In 2008, Mr. Akbar had his visa quickly approved - it took only three days. It was not until he began standing up for drone victims in Pakistan that he became a problem to the U.S. government and began having his visa approvals delayed. In 2011 his visa was delayed for 14 months. Now, I need your help so my children and I can travel to the United Sates to tell our story.
Our hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, October 1st 2013. Without legal representation and accompaniment of our lawyer, Mr. Akbar, we cannot come to the U.S and share our story with Congress and with the people of this country. Please urge the Department of State to immediately approve Shahzad Akbar’s visa so that he may escort my family to the United States and allow Congress to hear the first hand account of what it is like living under drones.