Monday, September 15, 2008

RM's Protest for Aafia in the News

Protesters demand: ‘Free Aafia Siddiqui!’
By Heather Cottin
Published Sep 11, 2008 9:22 PM
U.S. troops in Afghanistan shot Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and took her into custody in July. She lies in solitary confinement in the Manhattan Detention Center, with an open scar from her sternum to her lower abdomen. She has not seen her lawyer, Elizabeth Fink, because if she leaves her cell she faces an excruciating strip search.
treatment of jailed Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
Aafia Siddiqui is a 36-year-old Pakistani national who is a graduate of MIT and holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Brandeis University. On a visit home to Karachi in 2003, she was disappeared along with her three children. Her family believes the U.S. government captured, tortured and incarcerated her.
The U.S. government claims Siddiqui is an Al Qaeda terrorist. Federal officials deny knowledge of her whereabouts for the last five years. But on July 17, U.S. troops arrested her outside the governor’s office in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province after police searched her handbag and allegedly found documents on making explosives as well as descriptions of New York City landmarks. This story is at odds with the one the Afghan police tell. According to the Afghan officials, Siddiqui was arrested with maps of Ghazni, a city in central Afghanistan, including one of the governor’s house.
When U.S. troops requested Siddiqui be handed over to them, Afghan police refused, so U.S. soldiers disarmed them. The U.S. troops, “thinking that she had explosives and would attack them as a suicide bomber, shot her and arrested her.” The U.S. troops claimed she somehow managed to grab an M-4 rifle in a police station and shot at them. (Reuters, Aug. 14)
Human rights groups said they believe Dr. Siddiqui had been secretly detained since 2003, much of the time in U.S. custody at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Dr. Siddiqui’s 12-year-old son is still in prison in Afghanistan. No one knows where her two youngest children are.
“We believe Aafia has been in custody ever since she disappeared,” said one of her lawyers, Elaine Whitfield Sharp. (New York Times, Aug. 5)
In Pakistan and the U.S., scores of protesters have condemned the detention and torture of Siddiqui and demanded her release. If there was to be a trial, Pakistanis claim that, “She should have faced a court of law here in her own country.” (Daily Times, Pakistan, Aug. 11)
Pakistan has been a client state of the U.S. for decades. Ex-dictator Musharraf allowed the U.S. and NATO to bomb civilians in its northern provinces, along with permitting the arrest, disappearance and detention of thousands of Pakistanis. Many Pakistanis are enraged over the U.S. claims of extraterritorial jurisdictions, which violate international laws.
After Dr. Siddiqui was shot, she was flown to the U.S. in the custody of FBI agents, in agony and confused. Her lawyer, Elizabeth Fink, explained at a trial on Sept. 4 in Manhattan that Dr. Siddiqui could not appear for trial because the strip search she must undergo each time she leaves her cell is physically unbearable. When Fink last saw her, on Aug. 11, Dr. Siddiqui was disoriented and begged Fink to send food she was given to her son in his prison in Afghanistan.
Hundreds came to the trial on Sept. 4 and gathered afterward to protest the unjust treatment of Dr. Siddiqui. Chanting, “Free, Free Aafia Siddiqui!” Pakistani, African-American and north American speakers called for an end to CIA torture prisons in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo in Cuba, and Somalia. They denounced the policies of the U.S. that have placed this young mother literally in the crosshairs of U.S. imperialism.

No comments: