Graphic Novel - JUSTICE FOR AAFIA
Courtesy Christopher Towne
This is a graphic novel (comic book style) narrative that summarizes the ordeal of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
Published on the Ubermensch Blog and on Muslim Matters website. Please click on image to read the story...
April 09, 2013
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.
This exclusive interview was first published on Muslim Matters website as part of the 10th Anniversary of the kidnapping and rendition of Dr. Aafia and her three minor children, the youngest of whom was 6 months old and has not been seen since 2003.
(Please click on the image to hear the interview)
First Published March 21, 2013, MuslimMatters.org
By Andrew Purcell
I haven't really been keeping a diary. It just seemed to be a format that worked well. It is not strictly chronological, but it tells the story. Everything I write here is something I saw, both through interacting with Aafia and her family and sitting through her trial in New York City.
I was at my computer reading the news headlines of the day, and an odd item caught my eye. The headline read "FBI Searching for Female al-Qaeda Leader". Al-Qaeda is incapable of having a woman in a position of leadership. It is just not the role in life that women are destined for. Did the FBI miss that memo? I'm always up for a good laugh, especially at the expense of those who assure us that they know best.
So I clicked on the link and my life changed.
The article explained that the FBI was looking for a woman named Aafia Siddiqui. I know a woman named Aafia Siddiqui, and I know her brother, and I know her sister, and I know their mother. They have been close friends of mine forever. Her brother once mentioned that she had a rare combination of names. That there just weren't that many women named Aafia Siddiqui. This must be a different one.
The article continued that she was married, had three small children, she had lived for many years in Boston, that she had degrees from MIT and Brandeis... This stopped being funny very quickly. I e-mailed her brother. What's going on?
"Aafia was picked up over the weekend. Pak government said she was handed over to FBI. The FBI denies having her. Pak government then denied she had been arrested. In that part of the world this is very bad."
Later in the day I spoke to him and learned that her three children, Ahmad, six years old, Maryam, four years old, and Suliman, six months old, had also been taken.
A day that began with "Gee, this is funny" went downhill very quickly... (click on link for full article)
Full Article here
Durban City Centre brought to a halt at FREE AAFIA PROTEST
25 March 2013
South Africans flocked on Friday 22nd March to the United States Consulate, situated in the heart of the city centre in Durban, in solidarity with the Global Free Aafia Movements to protest on the tenth anniversary of the abduction of Dr. Siddiqui and her three children in Karachi, Pakistan. The picket drew huge public interest as thousands of motorists and pedestrians of all races witnessing the event. The audience was extremely vocal and passionate chants of "Free Free Aafia", echoed through one of the busiest streets in the city. The protesters demanded for an end to the oppression and injustices against Dr Aafia Siddiqui and demanded her repatriation to Pakistan.
The protest action which was held under banner of the "Free Aafia Foundation", was supported by a number of organisations and human rights activists. The picket began with a "flash mob" live demonstration, enacting the kidnapping of a screaming Aafia in the streets of Karachi, being dragged away from her children and brutally beaten and tortured. Shabnam Mohammed, an activist who played the part of Aafia was thrown into a mock cell. With deafening screams, she pleaded for help and repeatedly cried out about the whereabouts of her children.
Full Story here.
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US can consider releasing Aafia in exchange for Afridi: HoaglandFriday, August 31, 2012
The NEWSBy Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
ISLAMABAD: Acting US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland on Thursday revealed that Pakistan had never formally sought the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui in exchange for Dr Shakil Afridi, who is convicted of treason charges, but added that the United States can consider the release of Dr Aafia in exchange for Dr Afridi and is prepared to provide him shelter in the United States.In an exclusive chat with The News at a diplomatic reception, Richard Hoagland said during the cold-war, his country had exchanged prisoners with the defunct Soviet Union, which was done through backdoor interactions. Like with Russia, the US has no formal agreement with Pakistan for the exchange of prisoners. “But everything is possible in this world, if the will exists,” he said with a broad smile...
Full story here
Published in Daily JANG
PART ONE - JAn 29, 2013
PART TWO - JAn 30, 2013
by Yvonne Ridley
Jan 19, 2013
THE only thing that surprised me when I heard that the Algerian kidnappers had called for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui was that it hadn't happened sooner.
Don't get me wrong, as a former hostage myself, there is no way I condone the actions of what has unfolded in a remote corner of the Algerian desert.
And my heart goes out to the families of those who have lost loved ones in the unfolding drama at the In Amenas gas plant siege said to have been masterminded by Mohktar Belmokhtar. The infamous one-eyed Algerian militant apparently with ties to al Qaida, has claimed responsibility for launching Wednesday's attack.
It also goes without saying there is no way the kidnappers, whether politically or criminally motivated, can be justified in their actions.
But an injustice is an injustice and as the only western journalist to have specifically gone to Afghanistan to investigate the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, I have to say her plight has become a cause célèbre around the Muslim world.
And I have an uncomfortable feeling that more and more westerners will be kidnapped as their captors demand the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a woman I once called the most wronged in the world.
So just who is Dr Aafia Siddiqui and why is a group of North Africans calling for her release?
Well it's very easy to get emotional about a wronged Muslim woman caught up in the War on Terror but I am not basing my case on emotion just some simple cold, hard facts and forensic evidence ... or lack of it, but more of that and her bizarre story later.
Her family will certainly not be pleased that a group of Algerian terrorists have called for her release because it will give a perception in some quarters that Dr Aafia must be an Islamic extremist. It's a narrative pushed by US intelligence although it has to be said in her trial the opening statement of the prosecutor stated quite clearly that she was not al-Qaida nor a terrorist sympathiser.
The case of the mother-of-three is well known in every household in Pakistan from the most religious to the most secular ... the majority of which have been demanding her repatriation for years. Now she is known as the Daughter of the Nation although her story has travelled well beyond Pakistan's borders.
Thousands of Muslim children have been named after her because of all that she has come to symbolise. Everything that she represents stems from the injustices created by America's War on Terror ... the kidnaps, renditions, torture, rape and waterboarding.
The brilliant academic, a neuro scientist, educated in top US universities, is tonight languishing in a Texan jail serving an 86 year sentence after being found guilty of trying to kill American soldiers.
The fact they shot her at close range and nearly killed her is often overlooked.
To their eternal shame, the US soldiers serving in Afghanistan claimed in court under oath that the diminutive, fragile academic leapt at them from behind a prison cell curtain, snatching one of their guns to shoot and kill them. It was a fabricated story that any defence lawyer worth his or her salt would have ripped apart at the seams.
The scenario painted in court was incredulous and more importantly, the evidence non existent – no gunshot residue on her hands or clothes, no bullets from the discharged gun, no fingerprints belonging to Dr Aafia on the gun ... other vital evidence removed by US military from the scene went missing before the trial. Come on, we've all seen episodes of CSI – the science doesn't lie.
After being patched up in a medical wing in Bagram, she was then renditioned to America to stand trial for an alleged crime committed in Afghanistan. Flouting the Vienna and Geneva Conventions, she wasn't given consular access until the day she made her first court appearance.
The trial was held in New York, a stone's throw from where the Twin Towers once stood making it impossible not to invoke the memories of that horrific day on September 11 which for some forever turned Muslims into Public Enemy Number One.
A lack lustre legal team forced on Dr Aafia by the US authorities failed to sway the jury of her innocence, despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that she could not have snatched a soldier's gun let alone pull the trigger.
I went into the cell in Ghazni a few weeks after the shooting in July 2008 and discovered that the soldiers had panicked and sprayed the room with bullets as they struggled to flee. The evidence is there on film shot during my visit and handed over to the defence team.
The prosecutors could not believe a western journalist had travelled to this part of Afghanistan and obtained compelling witness and visual evidence. Soon after that vital forensic evidence including spent bullets that had been gouged out of a wall in the cell, went missing.
Seeing Dr Aafia emerge unshackled and unhooded from behind a curtain caused blind panic among the young soldiers who had been briefed by the FBI they were going to arrest one of the most dangerous women in the world.
I interviewed eyewitnesses, senior Afghan police officers and one after another told me their acount of what happened. Yet the only Afghan brought to court to give testimony against her was the FBI's translator who now has a green card and lives in New York with his family.
What the jury was not told is that Dr Aafia, and her three children, all aged under five at the time, had been kidnapped from a street near their home in Karachi and disappeared from 2003.
The FBI put out a story at the time that she had in fact gone on a jihad to Afghanistan – it was a ludicrous tale without foundation and, as every mother of young children knows, a journey to the local corner shop with toddlers is a monumental challenge so heading off to fight in Afghanistan with a pram, pushchair and toddler in hand is simply inconceivable. The FBI narrative was destroyed by Boston-based Elaine Whitfield Sharp, a lawyer hired by the Siddiqui family when Dr Aafia first disappeared.
The missing years of the academic's life reveal a story which is now known to virtually everyone in the Muslim world where she is widely regarded as a victim of George W Bush's War on Terror.
As she tried to tell the jury how she was held in secret prisons, with no legal representation, cut off from the outside world since 2003 where brutal interrogation techniques were used to break her down, she was silenced by the judge who said he was only interested in the cell shooting incident.
Judge Richard Berman, a modest little man with much to be modest about, insisted he was not interested in the missing years; it had no relevance to the case he insisted.
She testified that after completing her doctorate studies she taught in a school, and that her interest was in cultivating the capabilities of dyslexic and other special needs children. She emerged as a humanity-loving nurturer and educator, the gentle yet resolute seeker for truth and justice.
As the evidence continued we learned that she didn't know where her three children were – it was sensational content for those who knew the real story. She talked of her dread and fear of being handed back to the Americans when she was arrested in Ghazni and was held by police.
Terrified that yet another secret prison was waiting for her she revealed how she peeked through the curtain divider into the part of the room where Afghans and Americans were talking, and how when a startled American soldier noticed her, he jumped up and yelled that the prisoner was loose, and shot her in the stomach. She described how she was also shot in the side by a second person. She also described how after falling back onto the bed in the room, she was violently thrown to the floor and lost consciousness. This ties in exactly with what I was told by the counter terrorism police chief I interviewed in Afghanistan back in the autumn of 2008 – I remember him laughing as he told me how the US soldiers panicked, shot randomly in the air as they stampeded out of the room in a blind panic.
Of course there's no way a bunch of soldiers are going to admit they lost it, but according to those I interviewed for my film In search of Prisoner 650 in Afghanistan that's exactly what happened.
Two of her missing children have since been found and reunited with their extended family in Karachi. It is still not clear where the children were held when they were snatched from a street in Karachi but there's no disguising their American accents ... possibly picked up from their jailers.
So why did the FBI want to speak to Dr Aafia in the first place and why did they portray her as a dangerous terrorist on the run? if she was the person they painted why wasn't she charged with terrorism offences and why was the prosecutor at pains to point out that she was not al Qaida?
One person who might hold the key is Dr Aafia's ex-husband who has resisted attempts to be interviewed by me. He was going through a very combative and bitter divorce in the months before she disappeared. He first came to the attention of the FBI in 2002 when he was living in America but what he told them that would lead them to suspect his ex-wife of wrongdoing is anyone's guess.
Who snatched Dr Aafia and her children? I don't know, but I have also tracked down several ex-Bagram detainees who told me they saw Dr Aafia being held in Bagram in 2005 and gave a positive identity of her by photographs before her kidnap and after her arrest in Ghazni.
The bottom line is Dr Aafia Siddiqui should not be in prison and as long as this injustice continues she will become a rallying call for anyone who wants to pick a fight with America.
Acknowledging the injustice and returning Dr Aafia to her home in Pakistan will not stop extremists from causing terror, but it might make the lives of US citizens a lot safer if this wrong is put to right.
* British journalist Yvonne Ridley is a patron of Cageprisoners as well as being the European President of the International Muslim Women's Union and the Vice President of the European Muslim League.
Dec 31, 2012
A Message of Thanks from the Family of Aafia...
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...
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