Drone Victims Take on Washington DC
Faisal bin Ali Gaber is a soft-spoken engineer from Yemen. After he lost his cousin and brother-in-law in a drone strike in August 2012, he published an open letter to President Obama and Yemeni President Hadi. He said his brother-in-law was an imam who had strongly and publicly opposed al-Qaeda, and that his young cousin was a policeman. “Our town was no battlefield. We had no warning. Our local police were never asked to make any arrest,” he wrote to the presidents. “Your silence in the face of these injustices only makes matters worse. If the strike was a mistake, the family — like all wrongly bereaved families of this secret air war — deserve a formal apology.”
Now Faisal Gaber will get a chance to appeal directly to the American people. This weekend for the first time ever, a Yemeni delegation of drone strike victims’ family members, human rights experts and grassroots leaders will be visiting Washington as part of the Global Drone Summit–– You can watch the Summit live all weekend on the CODEPINK livestream channel.
While the CIA and US military have been using lethal drones for over a decade, this will be only the second time that drone victims have gotten visas to come to the United States to tell their stories. The first visit was just a few weeks ago when, on October 29, the Rehman family — a father with his two children — came all the way from the Pakistani tribal territory of North Waziristan to the US Capitol to tell the heart-wrenching story of the death of the children’s beloved 67-year-old grandmother. The hearing, convened by Congressman Alan Grayson, had the congressman, the translator and the public in tears. The Rehman family’s story is documented in the new film Unmanned: America’s Drone Wars by Robert Greenwald of Brave New Foundation, which was released at the time of their visit.