Monday, 15 March 2010

Great Miscarriage of Justice for Dr. Aafiya Siddiqui

Great Miscarriage of Justice in case of
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, Lord Ahmed

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani scientist, disappeared from Karachi in March 2003 and the Pakistani media took up the case and described the circumstances under which she disappeared. Pakistani politician Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf Party and Sister Yvonne Ridley along with the Cage Prisoners took the case up and Sister Yvonne Ridley went to Pakistan and had press conferences and challenged the then Pakistani authorities.

Sister Yvonne Ridley asked who was prisoner 650 and the Grey Lady of Bagram? Who is this woman who was heard crying? Both former Guantanamo Bay detainees, Binyam Mohamed and Moazzam Begg as well as some two other Arabs who were taken to Bagram and from there to Guantanamo Bay; all of them said they have seen a woman and they have described this woman. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to be the one they heard her scream.

Imran Khan of Pakistan Tahrik-e-Insaf Party and Sister Yvonne Ridley asked the American and Pakistani authorities about her but both of them said she did not exist. They did not know anything about her. This was early July 2008. Sister Yvonne Ridley came back and she asked Lord Ahmed whether he could do anything. Lord Ahmed put down some questions in the Parliament asking Her Majesty’s government whether they were aware of Prisoner 650; whether Prisoner 650 is Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and whether the grey lady of Bagram was the same woman.

Within a couple of weeks, Lord Ahmed got an acknowledgement from the Ambassador and also from the Justice Department of the United States of America to say that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was arrested in Kabul and she has been held in custody because she tried to attack some American Marines.

Dr. Aafia was tried in a “Kangaroo”, as Lord Ahmed said, court in New York where she has no independent lawyers. The judge decided to have a law firm chosen by the authorities. She could not defend her case. Dr. Aafia was convicted for attempting murder of five soldiers.

A meeting hosted by Lord Ahmed, in partnership with the Association of Pakistani Lawyers, with British Muslim Lawyers Association and many other organisations, held in the House of Lords Committee Room on Tuesday, the 9th of February, 2010. Lord Ahmed said, “All I am asking that we should be saying that this has been a great miscarriage of justice.”

Lord Ahmed: A great miscarriage of Justice
While introducing the case of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, Lord Ahmed said, “Much to my surprise and shock that within 12 to 13 days after asking these questions, my office also wrote to the Secretary of Justice, United States of America and also their Ambassador in London. Within a couple of weeks we got an acknowledgement from the Ambassador and also from the justice department of the United States of America to say that Dr. Aafiya Siddiqui was arrested on such and such date in July in Kabul and she has been held in custody because she tried to attack some American marines.” “This is unbelievable story. It does not stuck up. There is no sense in a fabrication of these types of story,” added Lord Ahmed.

Dr. Aafia had three children. Lord Ahmed alleged that this woman has been abused mentally, physically and who knows, even God forbids, sexually, if she was abused and her children, two of them we don’t know what happened to them.”

The American authorities, the judge decided that she would have a law firm chosen by the authorities. “Such a kangaroo court. We know that the way they have actually managed it. They disallowed Pakistani journalists from going into the court room. They did not allow any independent journalist to go and report,” said Lord Ahmed and added, “all these things stuck up, in my view, to say that this was a set up and so there has been a great miscarriage of justice.”

“We have already written to President (Barrack) Obama and we are preparing a letter now; we are going to ask all Muslim parliamentarians and parliamentarians of Pakistani origin to sign that letter so that the letter can go to President Obama to point out that this is being a miscarriage of justice and also to ask him to repatriate Dr Aafia Siddiqui and sent her back to Pakistan,” said Lord Ahmed.”

Lord Ahmed made it a point that what I am asking is that we should be saying that this has been a great miscarriage of justice. “If America is really serious of having some influence in this part of the world and if they think that they are going to reduce extremism in this region, then this type of oppression, this type of abuse will not be kept tolerated,” said Lord Ahmed and added, “In fact, it makes ordinary citizen, not only in Pakistan but around the world that their blood boils when they hear of stories. I can honestly tell you that if Aafia Siddiqui had been involved in any kind of terrorism, or had she been in my view, then I would not be sitting in front of you and would not be fighting for her case. I can honestly tell you that I believe that the Americans had done a greatest injustice.”

Lord Ahmed mentioned, “This is nothing new for Americans; they have done it before. They have done it in Abu Ghraib; they have done it Guantanamo Bay; they have done it in many other countries in the world. On this particular case Dr Aafia Siddiqui has become a symbol of freedom for Pakistani Muslims around the world and she will remain so and we will do our best to get her released and get her sent back to Pakistan.”

Rabia Zia
Rabia Zia of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, UK, told the gathering, “We want to ask the present government and the Prime Minister Gilani to actually find out who is leading her disappearance and we want him personally to ask President Obama and his government to extradite Dr Aafia and to send her back with her family and being tried of she has been accused of.”

Sister Yvonne Ridley
Sister Yvonne Ridley said, “First of all, I would like to say, without Lord Ahmed, this investigation would never have got off the ground because when I asked the Americans about who is this woman prisoner in Bagram; they said, it was a fantasy; they said, I was mad; that I was imagined it. Prisoner 650, the great lady of Bagram did not exist. Frankly Lord Ahmed believed me and he pursued it and he finally got the American to capitulate and admit that there was a woman prisoner in Bagram.”

Sister Yvonne Ridley mentioned her attempt to contact Judge Berman. “In fact, I wrote a letter to Judge Berman and asked why he was running an apartheid system in his court where he was keeping all of Aafia’s supporters out of the court along with the Pakistani media,” said Sister Yvonne and added, “I sent that by a carrier firm and copied it to the US Attorney General to find out why when we have some one like President Obama in the White House who said he stands for equality and justice; there is an apartheid system running in the court. So we knew that Aafia was not going to get justice in the US.”

Sister Yvonne Ridley did not believe that American politicians will be of any help. “American politicians don’t want to know anything to do with war on terror; so we are not going to get anyone from Capitol Hill really campaigning for Aafia,” said Sister Yvonne Ridley and added, “The place we have to go to get justice, I think, is back in Pakistan; that is where the great demonstrations are there; that is where the people will march in their thousands and thousands for justice for this wronged daughter of Pakistan. Aafia has captured the hearts of so many people and we have to put pressure on Gilani to demand her return and the best way we can do it is by petitioning, by marching, by rallying, by protesting by the people who have the biggest hearts and the loudest voices and the determination to do it, that is in back Aafia’s home, in Pakistan.”

“That is where we will get justice for Aafia and that is where we have to put the pressure on before this judge sits down in the first week of May and use his verdict. Because we know that the verdict is going to be the worst possible verdict,” emphasized Sister Yvonne Ridley. .

Parliamentarian Mohammad Sarwar
The first Pakistani MP Mohammed Sarwar said, “My view is that it was wrong for the Pakistan government at that time to hand over Aafiya to the American administration. I think we should condemn this and we should condemn this unanimously.”

MP Sarwar of Glasgow Central also mentioned, “It’s a huge campaign in front of us; first of all, sister Yvonne is absolutely right that we should exert our maximum pressure on Pakistan government because she is a Pakistani national and the whole nation in Pakistan is behind Dr. Aafia. Pakistan government should exert their maximum pressure on the Obama administration to ensure that she is released and she comes back to Pakistan.”

Parliamentarian Sarwar said, “I can assure you that Lord Ahmed and myself have already decided that we are going to write a letter to President Obama seeking a meeting with him for Muslim parliamentarians from the United Kingdom to discuss Dr. Aafia’s case and I want to assure you that we will campaign vigorously for her release.”

Appreciating and congratulating Lord Ahmed for his hard work, Sarwar said, “Lord Ahmed is really somebody we should be proud of; who has always championed the campaign whether it is Guantanamo Bay, or Palestine issue or Kashmir issue. He did not try to advance his own political career at the cost of principle. So I do want to pay tribute to Lord Ahmed for his hard work during this year.”

Lord Ahmed met Congressman in Chicago
Accordingly Lord Ahmed went to the United States and met with Congressman Mike Quigley on 19th of February in Wrighleyfield, Chicago and briefed him on two very important issues. He told the Congressman that Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s case has become a Nation concern in Pakistan due to the miscarriage of justice. He asked Mr Quigley to raise this issue in the Judicial Committee of the Congress, of which he is the Member.

Congressman Quigley said that he was not aware of Dr Aafia’s case and he is prepared to ask question to the Judicial staff and with the Authorities. Lord Ahmed said, “this is a serious case of miscarriage of Justice and there must be an independent Investigation and retrial of this case".

Lord Ahmed also met with Congressman Dany Davies later on 19th of February afternoon to discuss Dr Aafia Siddiqui's case in Chicago. He told the Congressman that Dr Aafia Siddiqui had been abducted from Karachi in 2003 and disappeared for five years before being charged and brought before a judge in New York in August 2008.

Lord Ahmed said that “in July 2008 Yvonne Riddley a freelanced journalist asked him to make representation to the American authorities and the British Government to identify Prisoner 650, the Grey Lady of Bagram, and much to his surprise Dr Aafia was charged with attempted murder of an American serviceman in Afghanistan. He said the tragedy of this case is that there is no forensic or scientific evidence of this allegation, she is not charged with any terrorism offences but with a charge that has no logic.”

Lord Ahmed told Mr Danny Davis the Congressman (Former joint Chairman of President Obama's Campaign in Chicago) that there has been a gross miscarriage of justice in this case, thus, an independent inquiry is needed.

Congressman Davis assured Lord Ahmed and his colleagues that he would join any group in Congress to obtain justice for Dr Aafia. Congressman suggested that Sheila Jackson Lee a member of Congress from Euston be contacted as she is a great supporter of Pakistan and fights for the protection of liberties.

Then Dr Ahmed travelled to Dallas where he addressed a large gathering and meet with Dr Aafia's brother Mohammed Siddiqui.

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