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  Print view: Supporters Demand Justice for Aafia Siddiqui
COMMENTARY:

Supporters Demand Justice for Aafia Siddiqui

by Stephen Lendman
Friday, 24 December 2010
Her March 30, 2003 abduction, imprisonment, torture and witch-hunt prosecution was validated by conviction—without evidence—seven and one-half years later, and sentenced to 86 years.

A full account of her case from March 2003 through December 2008 can be accessed here.

Numerous follow-up articles discussed subsequent events to the present. All are posted chronologically on sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Wrongfully persecuted, she was sentenced to 86 years in prison on September 23, 2010, a gross miscarriage of justice since her March 30, 2003 abduction, imprisonment, torture and witch-hunt prosecution, providing no evidence whatever to convict.

Supporters want her freed. The web site freeaafia.org posts updates on her case and status. It has petitions to sign on her behalf as well as actions to take, including writing her as follows:

Aafia Siddiqui
# 90279-054
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127

It also asks those able to contribute to her legal defense and investigation into the disappearance of her son, Suleman, missing for nearly eight years.

Aafia Siddiqui's photo
Aafia Siddiqui

Suburban Boston-based Elaine Whitfield Sharp represents Aafia. So does the New York-based International Justice Network (IJN), the only organization representing Bagram, Afghanistan detainees. It:

"leads human rights initiatives around the world by providing direct legal assistance and expertise to victims of human rights abuses and by creating a global network of legal professionals, (NGOs), and community-based human rights advocates in order to protect and promote human rights and the rule of law."

Its November 30 press release headlined, "Kidnapping Attempt on Children of Aafia Siddiqui," saying:

Armed gunmen broke into her family home in Karachi, Pakistan. "The incident was apparently a failed attempt to kidnap Dr. Siddiqui's two minor children - both of whom are US citizens, but now reside with relatives in Pakistan."

Since US authorities released her eldest son, Ahmed, in August 2008, he's been living with his grandmother and aunt in Karachi. Pakistani police provide round the clock protection, so it's unknown how the men gained access. They also managed to avoid capture, suggesting perhaps authorities aren't as protective as they claim.

IJN's Executive Director Tina Foster said:

"Those responsible for the March 2003 kidnapping of Dr. Siddiqui and her two children have yet to be identified and held to account. But there can be no doubt that the Pakistani government would bear responsibility for any harm that comes to (her) family (because) not only does the government have a general duty to protect the safety of its citizens, but in this case it also has affirmatively undertaken the responsibility for the Siddiqui family's safety and insisted on the security procedures now in place at" their home.

She also said "this kidnapping attempt is simply the latest in a series of incidents which suggests that there are individuals - who remain at large - (who) would stop at nothing to prevent the truth about what happened to Dr. Siddiqui and her three children to be revealed." It's not unlikely that Pakistan's government is involved, one of many services performed for Washington.

An October 25 IJN (ijnetwork.org) posting quoted the ACLU saying a same day federal court ruling affirmed the Defense Department's right to withhold key information about hundreds of Bargram detainees. The court denied an ACLU FOIA lawsuit for public disclosure.

Names of 645 prisoners were released, but nothing about their citizenship, length of imprisonment, and location and circumstances of capture. The ACLU accused the Defense Department of "improperly withholding these basic facts."

ACLU's Melissa Goodman said:

"Despite concerns that Bagram has become the new Guantanamo, the public remains in the dark when it comes to basic facts about the facility and whom our military is holding in indefinite military detention there. The public has a right to know...." No transparency "is even more disturbing considering the possibility that the US will continue holding and interrogating prisoners at Bagram well into the future."

The right-wing US District Court for the Southern District of New York went along, violating international and US law, including provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibiting:

  • "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
  • outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
  • the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized people;" and
  • requiring humane treatment under all circumstances.

It's well known that Pentagon/CIA prisoners at Bagram, Guantanamo, and other American torture prisons are brutalized, at times murdered, and denied all basic rights under international law that automatically is US law under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Clause 2. It states:

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary, notwithstanding."

Report from Lahore, Pakistan

On December 22, The International News (thenews.com) headlined, "Counsel urges unity to bring to bring Aafia home," saying:

Tina Foster said Muslims get second class justice in America, and unless Pakistan pressures Washington to send Aafia home, all Pakistanis will be at risk.

Others as well everywhere, including American citizens at home or abroad. Washington's extremism is so out-of-control that US and international laws don't matter, nor do those of other countries violated with impunity on their territory.

At the Lahore Press Club, Foster said Aafia's court-appointed attorneys would appeal her sentence, challenging both her conviction and 86 year imprisonment. If all Pakistanis and political parties were united on her behalf, she said, Washington might listen.

"The United States claims to have arrested Aafia in Pakistan (so America) should have sent her (there). But instead, they took a Pakistani sister and illegally transferred her all the way to the US," after torturing her for years at Bagram.

Foster added that Washington claims the right to imprison Aafia for life far from home and family. If Pakistan lets this "stand, the US government would have a green light to hold any Pakistani citizen traveling abroad and illegally send them to the United States, a country where Muslims get second class justice. If Pakistanis don't stand up for Aafia, no one will be able to stand up for other Pakistanis at their hour of need."

In fact, most Muslims get no justice. They're illegally entrapped and imprisoned for crimes they never planned or committed. Yet America's media affirms guilt by accusation.

Reports vilified Aafia when she was charged with offenses never included in her indictment. Foster stressed her appalling confinement, for months in isolation in a small prison cell. She's now at FMC Carswell, a so-called medical center, known more for punishment than proper care.

A Final Comment

Kevin Cooper's case is also disturbing, an earlier article reported in more detail.

A Black American citizen, he was framed and wrongfully convicted of four June 1983 murders. Evidence proved him innocence, yet he's languished on death row ever since, and faces execution without gubernatorial clemency, pardon, or commutation of his sentence to life.

On December 23, the Los Angeles was supportive in its editorial headlined, "Governor, save inmate's life," saying:

"Even supporters of capital punishment should object to the execution of someone whose guilt is in serious doubt." Since judicial action didn't save him, "the burden is on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger...."

California has 717 inmates on death row. With near certainty, many there are as innocent as Cooper. However, no one intervenes on their behalf because they're poor, Black or Latino - throwaway people out of sight and mind until lethal injections painfully kill them.

"Much of the evidence against Cooper has been seriously questioned, most comprehensively in an opinion by Judge William A. Fletcher of the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who dissented from a decision not to hear" Cooper's appeal. The above link covers his dissent in detail and his belief that Cooper is innocent, saying:

Based on convincing evidence, Cooper "is probably innocent of the crimes for which the state of California is about to execute him."

The LA Times "opposes the death penalty under any circumstances, and....wouldn't object if the governor commuted" all 717 death row inmates. "But execution is especially outrageous when the prisoner may be innocent. Gov. Schwarzenegger should commute Cooper's sentence."

In fact, he should pardon him (and others wrongfully convicted), make full restitution for nearly three decades of injustice, and provide substantial aid to help him readjust in society, free at last and fully exonerated.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 24, 2010.

 

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