Addressed on the Ocassion of Pakistan Independence Day, August 14, 2010by Dr. Fauzia SiddiquiAugust 14th and Pakistan’s Independence Day. This day is supposed to mark the rule of the will of the people of Pakistan – that we freely choose our rulers and they do our bidding for the People’s best interests. It is supposed to mark the fact that we are a free nation where we can live in peace and harmony, follow our religious beliefs as we will, our children can get the best of education without discrimination of race and creed. We are Pakistani’s and that is enough. This day also signifies that our daughters and sisters, wives and mothers, will be protected and kept safe from harm. That we stand proud of our ideology as a sovereign Islamic Nation.
14th August 2010 marks the 8th year of independence celebration after the abduction of Aafia and her children and the continued captivity of Aafia and the unknown fate of Suleiman. It also marks the 9th year of torture, rendition and war-crimes committed in the name of a so called “war on Terror”. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani Citizen, born in Pakistan, after completing her PhD s returned to her motherland only to be rendition with her three little children... This year as I drove around the major cities of Pakistan I saw a picture of a beautiful innocent looking woman and an inset of a tortured haggard woman with the caption “Dr Aafia Siddiqui, daughter of the Nation”. Banners around the country with slogans “Free Dr. Aafia Daughter of Pakistan”. I realized; Aafia Siddiqui has now become the symbolic daughter of this whole nation; I wandered what does that signify.
Why would it be that Aafia would become that symbol? And the more I thought and researched it dawned on me that it is no accident that fate chose her to become the daughter of Pakistan. What has happened to her, it seems, is exactly what happens to her motherland. The fate of both is inescapably linked. Here are some very vivid examples:
1. For 5 years Aafia was locked away in some secret detention betrayed by her own and manipulated by others for their own aims. During this time, Pakistan too was secretly being shackled and manipulated and betrayed by those trusted to protect it. As the daughter was treated, so was the motherland.
2. Pakistan was declared the most dangerous place in the world and its people demonized as threats. Aafia was declared the most dangerous woman in the world and demonized with fabricated proof. Again, the daughter and nation were made to share the same labels.
3. Then since 2008, we have seen open humiliation and public destruction of Aafia and so have we seen the open and horrendous destruction of Pakistan and the terrorization of its people. As the daughter is tortured so too the nation is torn apart.
4. Just as Aafia has been betrayed by those who were supposed to defend and protect her interests, even close relations, so too has this nation been betrayed by those who are supposed to uphold its interests, even those entrusted by sworn oaths. As the daughter is betrayed, so is the nation.
5. The same people who claim to give “justice” to Aafia on their own terms are the same people who offer “aid” and “support” to Pakistan for their own aims. As the daughter is shamefully convicted, so is the nation indicted and shackled.
6. Aafia is humiliated through strip searches and denied access to family. So too now all Pakistanis are “specially searched” and access to the homeland considered suspicious. As the daughter is humiliated, so is the whole nation.
7. The injustice in the verdict against Aafia was clear but there was silence except from the brave few. The accusations against Pakistan are just as unfair but the silence of our “friends” is deafening except for the few. Just as the daughter learns who are true, so does the nation.
8. I could go on, but what I want to point out is that these things are not made up but have been witnessed by everyone. That is why intuitively the Pakistani people know that Aafia’s fate is Pakistan’s fate. It is not about guilt or innocence. It is the strange bond between a person and the land and people she loved. The bond of a daughter with her mother; if we fail her, we WILL fail ourselves.
Aafia does not belong to Karachi or Lahore or Quetta or Peshawar. She is not of Sind or Punjab or Frontier or Baluchistan. She is and has always been a Pakistani. What happened to her and continues to happen to her is a fate shared with the whole nation. Look at what has happened to Pakistan since she was taken to America. What part of Pakistan has been spared?
Those that are responsible for Aafia’s misery are the same whose actions are now spreading misery across the whole nation. No wonder the whole nation recognizes this and sees in Aafia the personification of the motherland.
I must add that faith too has an important role in both for the survival of Aafia and Pakistan. As we know the religious addict of all major religions hold honor of women sacred. As Aafia’s honor is attacked the nation begins to disintegrate from natural calamities. It is a sad but undeniable fact
It is clear that those who are against Aafia’s interests cannot be for the interests of Pakistan. This sounds like a slogan but it is becoming clearer every day. The strange link between motherland and daughter is more than just symbolic. So, do we take this and despair because there seems no way out?
The answer is NO. Because it is this very link that will save both the motherland and the daughter.
a. Those that seek to destroy Pakistan tried to kill Aafia. But she is still alive and so our nation is still in one piece.
b. Aafia has been tortured with the worst kind of abuse using her children. She is still standing, damaged but resilient. The nation has been battered more than any other in this war of terror. But it is still standing and resilient and we finally see hope of unity.
c. Aafia’s children were taken away from her. So too, this nation has lost a whole generation due to lack of education and hope. But we now have Aafia’s son back and he will recover. So, we now realize the value of our youth and the next generation shall recover.
d. Aafia is in a physical American prison supposedly for life. The nation is in an economic and political American prison seemingly for life. Only the same resolve and national loyalty that can free Aafia from her physical prison can free the nation from its mental and economic prison. I believe that people finally recognize this fact.
e. This is why we have hope because, in Aafia, God has shown us a simple way to judge our national resolve. We now have a simple case where success or failure is easy to measure, where performance of everyone involved can be clearly evaluated and where loyalty can be tested. IT IS AMAZING THAT THE SUFFERING OF THE DAUGHTER HAS PROVIDED HER NATION WITH A SIMPLE LITMUS TEST TO SEE WHO IS FOR PAKISTAN AND WHO STANDS FOR SOMETHING ELSE. Aafia only has meaning for PAKISTAN as a whole, for ALL its people and she cannot be freed unless the entire nation unites. It cannot be Partisan or regional or ethnic or class based. She has no independent flag or politics. Her flag is the Pakistani star and crescent and her politics is the vision of Quaid-e-Azam.
I would like to summarize by saying that Aafia has brought home to us the true value of the motto that Quaid-e-Azam gave us: FAITH, UNITY DISCIPLINE. Her situation and suffering and that of the nation has shown us what happens when we lose these elements. To restore her freedom and our dignity, we must have FAITH in God and ourselves, we MUST be UNITED as Pakistanis and we must act with DISCIPLINE to achieve goals that are in OUR interests – Goals that solve OUR economic problems, provide security for PAKISTANIS, and eliminate OUR inferiority complex.
Finally, to end, I would like to add a fourth component that Aafia strongly believed in: OPPORTUNITY. Aafia dedicated her life to education because she believed that the best legacy a society can leave its future generations is not wealth but better opportunities.
So, this August 14th let us resolve to have FAITH in ourselves, UNITE for a common cause to free Aafia and her children and to act with DISCIPLINE to save Pakistan so that we can create a nation where our children will have abundant OPPORTUNITY and will not have to stand in humiliating lines for foreign visas.
A Ramadan wish in memory of AafiaGive me light in my eyesGive me light in my eyesKeep me shining like the first morning
Give me love in my heartGive me love in my heart Keep me humming like the first birdGive me fuel in my bonesGive me fuel in my bonesKeep me running like the first runnerGive me faith in my beingGive me faith in my beingKeep me faithful till the last dayGive me courage in my mindGive me courage in my mindKeep me steadfast till the last breathOh Lord give me Adam’s resolve,Solomon’s kingdomMoses’ closenessJesus’ healing powerAbraham’s friendshipBut most of all give me Muhammad’s love and wisdomOh Lord please forgive meForgive my shortcomingsForgive my sins, for all that I amIn you I believe, you I beg and bow toYou are my savior, you are my hopeYou are all I have, and no moreMy life, my love, my hope,Oh Lord, You and You alone.
... Fauzia Siddiqui
KARACHI, August 21, 2010
A camel caravan commemorated the occassion of Mohammed Bin Qasim's arrival in Daybul (near present day Karachi) to rescue a Muslim woman from captivity in 711 AD. This event ultimately led to the beginning of Arab rule in Sindh and beyond.
The NATIONAugust 13, 2010by Muhammad Umair Ikram
Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s incarceration, and subsequent trial and conviction, is a glaring example of USA’s complete disregard for human rights. Although, the US has ratified most of the international human rights conventions and adopted resolutions to the effect, the violation of international human rights law still persists. This article will discuss the legality of Dr Aafia’s case in light of the violation of different international laws by the US.
Under the banner of the “war on terror”, the US has taken extrajudicial steps that are in violation of not only the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1966, but also numerous other treaties and United Nations (UN) resolutions such as UN Convention against Torture (CAT) 1975, International Customary Laws against Torture, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 37/194 of 1982 for Principles of Medical Ethics, UNGA Resolution 43/173 of 1988 and UNGA Resolution 3452 (XXX). These treaties and resolutions ensure the protection of the inalienable rights of a person and also prohibit a person from being subjected to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading (CID) treatment.
The detention of Dr Aafia is considered to be a violation of the fundamental human rights, as enunciated in the above mentioned conventions and resolution. Dr Aafia was arrested by the police in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the grounds that she was an alleged member of Al-Qaeda. The FBI unlawfully transferred her to the US and once there, Dr Aafia was charged on numerous accounts such as the attempted murder of US officials and employees, assault and use of a firearm. All of the offences were in violation of the law as laid down in Title 18 United States Code (USC) sections 111 and 1114.
On February 3, 2010, the jury found her guilty on all above accounts. According to the verdict, she will face a minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum of life imprisonment on the firearm charge. She could also receive a sentence up to 20 years for each attempted murder and armed assault charge, and up to eight years on each of the remaining assault counts. However, the final hearing is expected to take place on August 16, 2010.
Legally speaking, the US verdict is purely a violation of the International Human Rights Law. To begin with, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 43/173 is important. Principle 11 of the resolution states that a person shall not be kept in detention without being given an effective opportunity to be heard promptly by a judicial authority. A detained person shall have the right to defend himself or to be assisted by counsel. Principle 12 of the same requires that all information regarding the detainee should be recorded. Similarly, Principle 15 talks about the communication of the detained or imprisoned person with the outside world and in particular his family or counsel, which should not be denied. This shows that the US is completely oblivious to laws that apply to such situations.
In light of the above, the principle of audi altrem paltrem (no one should be condemned unheard) is important. Dr Aafia was not given the right to be heard by any judicial or other relevant authority and neither was she assisted by any counsel at the time of arrest. Furthermore, no information was given to the counsel about the time, place of custody, and law enforcement officials. More so, communication with the outside world, her family and counsel was denied. Her family and counsel were not informed about her transfer and whereabouts.
Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relation (VCCR) 1963 is also of relevance. This is an international treaty providing foreign detainees with access to proper counsel. The US is a party to the convention. In the cases of Mexico vs United States and Germany vs United States, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) laid a lot of emphasis on the fundamental nature of the right of counsel and also issued a binding judgment stating that the US had breached its obligation. The refusal of the right to counsel to Dr Aafia is, therefore, not only a violation of the VCCR, but is also manifestly unfair.
An important aspect of Dr Aafia’s case is that she was subjected to torture. In this regard, the Convention against Torture (CAT) is relevant. Article 3 of CAT places a prohibition on states to extradite or transfer a person to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture. The US is well-known for its practice of “extraordinary renditions” which entails the extrajudicial transfer of a person to another state to inflict torture for interrogation purposes. The mental and physical condition of Dr Aafia is evidence of the fact that she was tortured to an utmost extreme by the US officials, which is, again, in violation of CAT. In addition, she was not provided with proper medical treatment that is certainly a derogation of the UNGA Resolution 37/194.
Recently, the Government of Pakistan (GoP) has ratified two conventions namely the ICCPR and CAT. In this regard, it is imperative that the GoP should take positive steps to initiate a further round of talks with the US regarding the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui from detention. Dr Aafia’s fate will be decided at the next hearing. As her fundamental rights have been violated, the US has a duty to compensate her under, both, Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and UNGA Resolution 3452 (XXX). Together, they lay emphasis on a person’s right to an effective remedy.
It is evident from the above discussion that Dr Aafia Siddiqui has a strong case if given the proper recourse to justice.
The writer is associated with the Research Society of International Law.
August 13, 2010
“Of all the cases I’ve dealt with, in the 25 years that I’ve been a human rights advocate, the case of this young Muslim woman has been the heaviest on my heart. When I think of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (who represented Alaska in the U.S. Senate for 40 years), I think of a once powerful American politician who, in the twilight of his otherwise impressive political career, was convicted of (and lost his senate seat as a result of) corruption; who later had his conviction vacated by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder because of prosecutorial misconduct. If Eric Holder can nullify the conviction of a once powerful republican politician, simply because of a tainted process, he should also be able to intervene in the wrongful prosecution of a Muslim woman who was clearly victimized by a far greater example of a tainted and fundamentally unjust process.”
Mauri' Saalakhan, Director of Operations for The Peace Thru Justice Foundation
AN OPEN LETTER TO U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER
A copy of the open letter in support of Aafia Siddiqui can be downloaded her
DAILY TIMES; The NEWS
Lawyers, civil society members march to Islamabad on foot
LAHORE: A CARAVAN, consisting of lawyers and representatives of civil society, will march to Islamabad on foot to press their demand for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiuqi and all missing persons.While announcing the schedule of caravan, Secretary SCBA Raja Zulqurnain said the caravan would leave for federal capital on August 7 at 11am from GPO Chowk and reach its destination on August 14 and present a memorandum to government officials in front of parliament building.Raja Zulqurnain expected that thousands of people would join the march ....
An APPEAL to our humanity
The last week of July and the first week in August, 2010 has seen the worst floods on record in the history of Pakistan. The magnitude of the disaster is enormous and difficult to fathom.
To put it into perspective, just based on "official" estimates so far:
But the real story of these epic floods is not told in the cold statistics; it is in the faces and the eyes of the people, the human beings … just like you and me.
It is in the pain of:
every man who had all his life's work swept away in a flash...
every woman whose dreams for her and her children turned to nightmares...
every elderly person who will wonder at the blessing of an old age that allowed them to witness the sorrow of their offspring...
every child that is traumatized as the world around them crumbles and their little sanctuaries are no more...
These are the blameless victims of nature's wrath. They have lost everything and yet they will go on.
They do not have a choice.
BUT WE DO...
We, those of us that were spared the misery, can either passively watch this horror reality show on TV or the Internet or do something positive to actively help...
HERE IS WHAT WE CAN DO:
For the victims, their hour of suffering has come and now they are on the road to recovery.
How quickly and completely they recover is now our test.
How we react to this is also a reflection of how we want to define ourselves.
When the floods claimed their victims, no one was asked about their religion, their ethnicity; their political party affiliation or their family's resources.
Nature could not care less.
So, when we respond, let us also not ask those questions.
If the suffering of some poor Pakistani villager is somehow less human in its pain and lower in priority than someone from a background of material privilege and fair features, then we need to question whether we have moved forward or backward on the scale of civilization.
If someone's simple humanity is not enough reason, then perhaps we need to seek our own humanity.
There is no one to blame for this and no one has a sole responsibility to help.
In a way we are all to blame for neglecting our nation and our people and we are all equally responsible for restoring our pride and unifying all members of our family. Aid will not solve our problems, our own confidence and efforts will.
LET US ALL RESPOND POSITIVELY AND IN UNITY… AS HUMAN BEINGS.
1 Areas of States source: Wikipedia.com
2 Areas of countries source: worldatlas.com
3 City populations source: www.infoplease.com
4 Pakistan GDP source: World Bank, World Development Indicators
5 Damage estimate & total aid pledged source: DAWN, NATION (as of Aug 5, 2010)
August 06, 2010LAHORESPEAKERS at a seminar called for the immediate release of all the missing persons in general and Dr Aafia Siddiqui in particular and appealed to the Pakistanis to act like a united nation in all the matters of national interest.They were speaking at a seminar on Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s imprisonment and the facts behind this...
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Fouzia Siddiqui, elder sister of Dr Aafia, said Aafia was only a Pakistani citizen and all the allegations against her, that she was also having an American or any other nationality, were wrong. She said another claim of some people against her that she was a neuro physicist was also altogether wrong. She said Aafia was in fact a PhD and not a medical doctor, adding that she was more precisely an educationist by profession.
Ms Fouzia said the American judge, conducting her case, gave a ruling that Aafia was not charged with terrorism because there was not even single evidence found against her during the last six years which could prove her a terrorist. She said the judge, in fact, charged her with the attempted murder which she tried while fleeing from an illegal custody in Afghanistan...
Sameea Raheel Qazi said it was cowardice of our leaders that they kneeled before the US and due to which Pakistan became a frontline state on the war on terror. She said it was owing to this cooperation in war on terror that our leaders handed over innocent Dr Aafia to the US. She said Pakistanis should have behaved like a nation if they wanted them to be recognised across the globe...
Ghazala Saad Rafique said Pakistanis were dead as a nation. She said even the Americans themselves differed with their leaders on the issue of drone attacks in Pakistani territory but it was rueful that we did not utter even a single word of protest against the attacks...
Aziz Ahmad Awan said Pakistani people were not completely dead as a nation and they would soon be on the roads for the release of Dr Aafia and all other missing persons. Dr Farooq Hasnat said the media and the civil society should pressurise the government on the issue but with logic and rationale. He said Dr Aafia had become a symbol of human rights violation in the world and her release should have been considered a challenge now...
Film Director Sangeeta said the entire nation should hold peaceful protests on the issue of the illegal imprisonment of Dr Aafia...The programme was hosted by MKRMS Chairman Wasif Nagi and Shehzad Raoof assisted him.
full story here
Judge Richard Berman has changed Dr Aafia's sentencing date from August 16, 2010 to September 23, 2010 at 9:00 AM in the Federal Court Building at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York.
July 23, 2010
KARACHI, July 23: Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, whose younger sister Dr Aafia Siddiqui is in prison in the United States, made an impassioned appeal on Friday to the people to raise their voice for her repatriation before Aug 16, when she said the US court would seal her fate.
Dr Fauzia, who was the guest speaker at ‘Meet the press’ programme of the Karachi Press Club on Friday, stressed the urgency of repatriation saying that under the US law a foreigner tried by a US court could be repatriated to the country of his nationality on the request of the government before the pronouncement of a sentence. She said there were 19 such precedents in which undertrial prisoners after indictment were repatriated to their countries on the request of their respective governments.
She added that Dr Aafia was convicted despite all physical and forensic evidence showed that she could not have committed the acts she was charged with. Besides, she was not represented by lawyers of her choice, she said.
Dr Fauzia said that if there was a political will, the Pakistan government through its diplomatic channel could ask for the repatriation of her sister, who is neither a US citizen nor a green card holder as she had only one passport, issued by the Pakistan government.
Recounting the miseries and torture Dr Aafia Siddiqui suffered during her incarceration and trial, Dr Fauzia broke down a number of times. She said as Dr Aafia was indicted...despite conceding that her links with Al-Qaeda, Taliban or any other such organisation were not found. She said that, according to the judge, after her long incarceration Dr Aafia had become a threat to society.
Saying that Dr Aafia, a US-trained neuroscientist, was devoted to her three children and her academic studies revolved around how children learned. She was now a mere shell of her former self. Her repatriation was being sought so that she could pick up some fragments of life with her family, she said.
Ms Fauzia said in March 2003 Dr Aafia and her three children — Ahmad, six, and Maryum, four, both US citizens by birth, and six-month-old Suleman — were kidnapped in Karachi and on March 31, 2003 the Pakistan media reported that Dr Aafia had been arrested and turned over to US officials. In July 2008, Dr Aafia appeared in Ghazni. British citizen Yvonne Ridley, a former detainee at the Bagram prison, spoke of a “Grey lady” screaming at Bagram.
Dr Aafia’s son Ahmed was reunited with her aunt in late 2008 while daughter Maryum was dropped near her aunt’s home in Karachi in April 2010 after she had been missing for seven years. Dr Aafia’s youngest child, Suleman, who would now be about seven years old, remains missing and is feared dead.
She also clarified that her family was not affiliated with any political party and thanked the media for its support to her lone voice raised for Dr Aafia.
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