A woman finds herself alone on the street in an unfamiliar neighborhood of an unfamiliar city. The people around her don’t speak her native language, and in fact, she doesn’t understand their language. She is accompanied by a 12 year old boy, Ali. She doesn’t recognize him, but she has a great affection for children, and he is in her care. He will later be identified as her son, Ahmed whom she has not seen in the 5 years since they were abducted from a taxi in Karachi not far from their home. She doesn’t know how she got there, and she isn’t entirely sure why she is there. Small and slender, no more than 110 lbs, he seems fragile, a little disoriented, out of place. She will later say that she was looking for her husband, or another time, that she was looking for a particular woman. It’s possible she really doesn’t know why she is there. She hears the Muezzin’s call and begins to move towards the mosque. Perhaps she will find a refuge there.
The Afghan police in Ghazni notice a woman on the street. Something draws their attention to her. She doesn’t appear to belong to the place. Perhaps she isn’t dressed in the local style. She is on the street in the early afternoon on a Friday when most men are at the Mosque and women are in their homes. The Police say she seemed out of place, lost. The police would later say that she was loitering after dark, but among the court documents, there is an interview with the shopkeeper in front of whose store she was detained. He says that he wasn’t in the store because it was Friday, he was attending the prayer service at the Mosque. It would have been between 1 pm and 3:30 pm. He swears the woman is a stranger and he has never seen her before.....
.... This terrible story is like something out of a nightmare, or a bad novel. But it is a true story, in so far as you can find the truth of events that are disputed and cloaked in the secrecy of multiple ‘security operations’. At least it is part of the story of the ordeal of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman, born into an upper middle class family with conservative religious values, who placed a high value on education and on service. It is a part of the story of a young woman who came to the US, initially to Texas, later to Massachusetts to attend various colleges, eventually achieving a degree in ‘Neuroscience’, though she was did not enjoy biology and chemistry but preferred the study of psychology and education. In fact she had prepared for a career teaching developmentally disabled children....
...Aafia Siddiqui had lived in the US for more than 10 years, married here and borne her children here. She carried the family standard as she engaged in teaching and preaching Islam as the clearest and brightest truth and supporting Muslim Charities in war zones like Croatia and later, Afghanistan; sending Qur’ans to prisoners and teaching children at an impoverished inner city mosque. But something has gone terribly wrong to bring our heroine her to this terrible pass. And it will only get worse.
Returning to the present story, common sense would indicate it would have been very difficult for this small battered woman to have lifted and fired a powerful automatic rifle. The least amount of compassion would indicate that even if she did take the gun, even if she managed to fire the high power automatic rifle without being knocked to the ground, the action would have been in the service of escape rather than a murderous rampage. However, there is no forensic evidence whatsoever that she held the gun or fired it. No one was shot except the prisoner herself. There were no bullet holes in the walls or ceiling of the small room, and no shell casings recovered from the floor. There were no fingerprints on the gun, and there was no gunpowder on the prisoner’s hands or the curtain in front of her. [Court Documents] Yet a year later, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national who never should have been extradited from Afghanistan to the US in the first place, a bright, well educated person with a PhD from Brandeis University, now incapable if a consistent description of where she had been for the past 5 years, incapable of recognizing her own son, was convicted of separate counts of attempted murder and assault for every American in the room, sentenced to 86 years in prison and incarcerated in Carswell Medical Center in Texas....
.... According to Cornell University Legal Information Institute, under Federal law: the maximum sentence for manslaughter (actually killing someone) is 5-7 years; the maximum sentence for threatening the President or Vice President of the US is 5 years; the maximum sentence for assaulting a Supreme Court Officer is 1 year though if a deadly weapon is involved it goes up to 10 years. A maximum sentence of 20 years is allowed for ”helping Al Qaeda develop a nuclear weapon”, slavery and human trafficking, ’genocidal eugenics’, selling child pornography, or performing a deadly act of violence against personnel at an international airport (so long as the person so assaulted doesn’t die).[6.2-6.5] The charges against Aafia Siddiqui have similar maximum sentencing guidelines to helping Al Qaeda build a nuclear weapon or human trafficking or assaulting personnel in an international airport [220.127.116.11] [5.1-5.3].
The Jury deemed the defendant guilty of all charges WITHOUT PREMEDITATION. It would seem this verdict would preclude terrorism...... Judge Berman’s sentence was based on the contents of her bag, never addressed in court, and FBI allegations that were never prosecuted. He ignored clear indications that she suffered from PTSD and that she suffered from mental illness that was serious to merit her placement at the psychiatric ward at Carswell but not serious enough to influence her actions or her participation in the trial, the lack of material evidence for the crime she was convicted of and her persistent claims of prior abuse while incarcerated in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Why was Aafia Siddiqui prosecuted for one crime and convicted of another/ One can only assume there was not enough evidence to make the preferred case....
We send our thanks and prayers to all of our friends around the world for everything you have done for Aafia.
2012 marked nine years in chains for Aafia, but the movement to free her made huge gains. International support for the Free Aafia campaign has expanded to include groups in two dozen countries. Support for Aafia is nearly universal in Pakistan despite the government's limitations on press coverage, especially in the English language media, and several official "protective" roadblocks.
Some of you marched peacefully with thousands of other people on to the streets to demand her freedom. Some of you sent Aafia a postcard telling her that you love her, that you believe her, and that you are praying for her and her family. Some of you raised money. Some of you gave your time. Many of you prayed. Many of you were there among the thousands who joined the "Caravan of Dignity" (Karwan-e-Ghairat) rallies.
You proved that a quilt of interfaith harmony can be a powerful weapon against injustice as Aafia was remembered at Ashura, Ramadan, Naurooz, Easter, Holi, Diwali and Christmas, united under a banner demanding that our common humanity be recognized everywhere.
All of you are part of our family in a way that we can't explain but we will always be grateful for.
Below are some of the notable events of 2012.
A fatwa from a senior religious body in Makkah, Saudi Arabia is made public calling for support for securing Aafia's freedom. It is censored in the Pakistani media and Saudi officials asked the family not to make a public issue of it. Pakistani agencies have repeated this message to us and added "or else".
On February 10th a large peaceful rally near the US consulate in Karachi was violently assaulted. In the unprovoked attack coordinated by Pakistani and foreign security personnel using water cannons and baton charges, several people were seriously hurt and needed hospitalization including Aafia's sister, Dr. Fauzia and Altaf Shakoor. Our sources told us that the slogan "86 years=Bullshit" that had been displayed at an earlier demonstration offended someone in the consulate who demanded retribution.
Far from silencing us, it brought us an international spotlight and became a catalyst for a major series of events across South Africa. This kicked off a successful campaign which has now multiple active chapters with new ones opening in neighboring African countries. (more here)
The ninth anniversary of the kidnapping of Aafia and her three children is marked by candlelight vigils and rallies across fifteen countries including a vigil outside the United States' embassy in London, a rally outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas, just a few miles from where Aafia is being held at Carswell Prison, and a large demonstration outside the US consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa. (more here)
For several years the Pakistani TV channel ARY has made a tradition of dedicating their Mother's Day morning show to Dr. Aafia and her children. A worldwide audience watched Ahmed and Maryam as they continue their journey from trauma to normalcy. (video here)
On this same occasion we were also reminded of the baby Suleman who was only 6 months old when abducted. His fate remains a mystery. Little interest is shown by Pakistan's authorities. As one official said to our family, "He was just a Pakistani kid - who cares?" *(Ahmad and Maryam were born in the United States and are American citizens. Suleman, born in Pakistan, was just a Pakistani kid.) (more here)
An Independence Day campaign to send tens of thousands of cards to the White House was launched and over 50,000 were mailed world wide.
As our successes grew, the shadowy security agencies were not idle. A malicious rumor of Aafia's death was spread. Aafia is kept is total isolation and had no contact with family or even lawyers so we were in no position to verify. This was eventually proven to be nothing more than a spiteful response to the campaign directed at Aafia's elderly mother.
During the Ramadan, two significant developments occurred. The American government confirmed that the Pakistani government had never made a formal request for Aafia's repatriation and so the United States could take no action. This exposed the complicity of some highly placed Pakistani authorities in keeping Aafia locked up. (more here)
The second development was perhaps the most dramatic of this entire ordeal. Aafia spoke. Her own words. Her own voice. A video from 1991 of nineteen year old Aafia giving a talk on the Role of Women in Islam appeared on YouTube. The video garnered 100,000 views in days, despite a news media black out by Pakistani, Turkish, and Arab TV stations. While acknowledging its authenticity, "editorial" decisions prevented the video from being broadcast or even mentioned. (video here)
Former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Pakistan. He described Aafia's imprisonment and the underlying premise as unjustifiable and called the American system in this case "unfair" and terming Aafia's trial "illegal". (more here)
Former United States Senator Mike Gravel visited Pakistan to emphasize that this was purely a political case and its solution lay in the political arena. He urged action, making the famous comment, "If the Pakistani government took serious action, Aafia could be home in two days". (more here)
A delegation of US antiwar groups led by UNAC and Code Pink came to Pakistan to protest the evils of the "collateral damage" of the war on terror, including the drone attacks and the case of Dr. Aafia. (more here)
Former United States Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and International Action Center (IAC) director Sara Flounders visited Pakistan and spent a "Free Aafia Week" across Pakistan, again highlighting the inaction on the part of the Pakistani government. (more here)
Our campaign websites were hacked and selective data damaged. Aafia's sister was detained multiple times and her family threatened. Her livelihood placed at risk when her clinic, one of the few in Pakistan that treats epilepsy, was targeted under the guise of "extortion".
Also in 2012, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, the foreign minister for the former military dictator Pervez Musharaf, admitted in his infamous tweet: "I'm so sorry for handing over the innocent @DrAafiaSiddiqui to the Americans. It was my biggest mistake ever!.Khurshi Kasuri"
Not surprisingly, after this tweet went viral, Mr. Kasuri removed it, but he has not repudiated it either.
And these are just the highlights!
By God's grace, 2012 was eventful and has set the stage for more in 2013. We are energized by the success of so many events and the growing international support.
We wish all sincere supporters a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous 2013...
Rallies Held in Fort Worth to Mark 10th Anniversary
DALLAS: American former Attorney General from 60's Mr. Ramsey Clark has said that he concluded after going through all the facts in Dr Aafia Siddiqui's trial that she is innocent and America unjustly kept her in prison.
He was addressing a rally in front of DFW Federal court in downtown Fort Worth Texas. The rally was organized by organization "Peace through Justice" for justice for Aafia Siddiqui.
Clark said it seems after wrongfully convicting Aafia Siddiqui, America is trapped in its own credibility and honor, that is why the country is not serious in releasing her.
He said that he had reviewed a large number of cases in his professional life as attorney, but he never saw such a bizarre case like Aafia Siddiqui's case.
The former attorney general further said among all the political prisoners in the world Aafia Siddiqui's case is second most popular case in the world.
He said the US administration could never answer a question as what are the evidences of Aafia Siddiqui possible connection with Al-Qaeda.
The rally organizer and Peace through Justice Leader Mr. Mauri Saalakhan of the Washington, D.C, while addressing the event said that Dr. Aafia was arrested during President Bush tenure but she is still kept behind bars in Obama's administration.
He said that he would continue the struggle until Aafia got justice.
A similar event was held in March by this organization along with other groups on the tenth anniversary of incarceration of Aafia Siddiqui in front of carswell Federal prison in Fort Worth Texas where Afia Siddiqui is jailed.