By Sara Flounders Workers World
New York Aug 13, 2010
An international campaign has been launched
demanding the repatriation of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui
to her homeland of Pakistan. Siddiqui is being
held in a federal prison in New York City
awaiting sentencing, which is currently scheduled for Sept. 23.
In March 2003, at the age of 30, Siddiqui
disappeared along with her three children from a
street in Karachi, Pakistan. At the end of that
month, the Pakistan media reported that Siddiqui
had been arrested and turned over to U.S. officials.
Siddiqui mysteriously reappeared on the streets
of Ghazni, Afghanistan, following five years of
secret detention. There she was immediately
rearrested, shot and almost killed. After
emergency treatment, she was brought to the
United States and held in solitary confinement
for almost two years before being placed on trial
before a federal court in New York City.
The government charges were preposterous.
Siddiqui had supposedly been first arrested not
in 2003 but in July 2008, five years after her
disappearance. U.S. authorities claim that when
their military personnel went to interrogate her
after the arrest, Siddiqui grabbed a U.S.
soldier’s M-4 assault rifle, fired off two rounds
and was shot while being subdued.
Questions of how the bullets supposedly fired by
Siddiqui failed to hit a single one of the 20 to
30 people in the small, crowded room, or hit any
wall or floor, or leave any residue or
fingerprints were never answered. Witness
testimonies often contradicted their earlier
sworn statements and the testimonies of others.
The prosecution urged the jury to ignore science
and irrefutable facts and believe the
contradictory testimony of U.S. Special Forces
soldiers and FBI agents. In the current intense
climate of fear over “national security,” the
jury found her guilty of assaulting and
attempting to murder her U.S. interrogators.
Siddiqui’s missing son, Ahmed, was reunited with
his aunt in late 2008, while her daughter,
Maryum, was dropped near the aunt’s home in
Karachi in April, after she had been missing for
seven years. Siddiqui’s youngest child, Suleman,
who would now be about 7 years old, remains missing and is feared dead.
There have been massive demonstrations in
Pakistan’s major cities demanding the return of
this 38-year-old mother, now dubbed the “daughter
of Pakistan.” There is already immense
international outrage about her case. Siddiqui
has repeatedly maintained in court appearances
that she was tortured while in U.S. custody.
Siddiqui’s five years in secret detention in
Pakistan and Afghanistan, her grievous injuries,
her two years in solitary confinement in the U.S.
and her trial in New York City have been top news
in Pakistan. Civil rights, religious and women’s
organizations have marched and petitioned,
demanding the U.S. allow her to return to Pakistan.
Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, her younger sister, in
stressing the urgency of a campaign for Aafia
Siddiqui’s repatriation, explains that under U.S.
law a foreigner tried by a U.S. court can be
repatriated to the country of his or her
nationality on the request of that government
before the pronouncement of a sentence. She says
there are 19 such precedents in which prisoners,
after indictment, were repatriated to their
countries at the request of their respective governments.
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is neither a U.S. citizen nor
a permanent resident. She had only one passport,
issued by the Pakistani government.
Siddiqui has not been charged with committing any
crime on U.S. soil. Therefore she should not have
been extradited to the U.S. for trial but either
tried in Afghanistan or extradited to Pakistan.
She was not charged with terrorism nor with
injuring or harming anyone anywhere. She is a
victim of terrible, life-threatening injuries.
The Pakistani government should insist through
diplomatic channels on Siddiqui’s repatriation.
Based on overwhelming Pakistani sentiment for
Siddiqui’s return, the U.S. government should grant this humanitarian request.
Petitions demanding Siddiqui’s repatriation,
directed to President Barack Obama and Pakistani
President Asif Ali Zardari, as well as the media,
will be delivered on Aug. 14 Pakistan
Independence Day to the Pakistan Mission to the
United Nations. To sign the petition, visit iacenter.org.