Monday, September 20, 2010
Background & Facts -- Dr. Aafia Siddiqui (from Official Family Site)
SEE other items on Dr. Aafia's dilemma (and all ours who see justice and human rights as well) on this site below. This one highlights the essential elements of the coming day in court this week:
oneheartforpeace: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui Updates: Sentencing in Judge Berman's court once again...On September 23rd Sep 14, 2010 in lower Manhattan here
Following last Updated on Sunday, 12 September 2010 12:00 from Free Aafia dot org
* Dr. Aafia earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from MIT and earned her doctorate from Brandeis University.
* Her doctoral thesis was “Learning through Imitation” in which she included her research on improving learning techniques for children.
* She was totally dedicated to her children and her academic studies revolved around how children learn.
* Unfortunately, Dr. Aafia became a victim of domestic violence during her marriage.
* In 2002, Dr. Aafia’s husband moved the family to Pakistan and soon divorced her while she was pregnant with the couple’s third child. He remarried within weeks of giving her the divorce.
* Dr. Aafia is now 38 years old, a mother of three children (2 are US citizens), divorced, and is a Pakistani citizen.
Circumstances Surrounding the Case:
Briefly, here are some of the basic circumstances of Dr. Aafia’s case:
* In March 2003, Dr. Aafia and her three children, Ahmad (boy), six years old and an American citizen, Maryum (girl), four years old and also an American citizen, and Suleman (boy), six months old, kidnapped by unknown authorities in Karachi, Pakistan.
* On March 31, 2003 it was reported by the Pakistani media that Dr. Aafia had been arrested and turned over to representatives of the United States. In early April, this was confirmed on NBC Nightly News, among other media outlets.
* There was communication to the mother of Dr. Aafia from purported “agencies” that the family members should be quiet if they want to see Aafia returned alive.
* By the year 2008, many believed that after five years of being disappeared Dr. Aafia and her three children were most likely dead.
* Then, in July of 2008, the same month Dr. Aafia “appeared” in Ghazni, two events occurred:
1. British human-rights reporter, Yvonne Ridley and former Bagram detainee and British citizen, Moazem Begg, publicly spoke about a woman in Bagram screaming, a woman whom they named the “Grey Lady of Bagram”
2. A petition for habeas corpus was filed with the Pakistan High Court in Islamabad requesting that the court order the Pakistani government to free Dr. Aafia or to even admit that they were then detaining her.
What Supporters and Family Believe?:
This is what the family and many other supporters in the US and in Pakistan believe:
* That Dr. Aafia was (and is) an innocent person who was abducted for money or based on false allegations or false conclusions derived from an unknown source.
* That, unfortunately, all evidence required for her defense and establishing legal proof of her detention would require full cooperation by the U.S. and Pakistani governments, and intelligence agencies, a cooperation that seems impossible.
* That documents incriminating Dr. Aafia are either false documents or produced under torture or threat of harm to her children.
* That the Afghan police were looking for Dr. Aafia and her son based on a description given by an anonymous tip on the day she was detained in Ghazni.
* That had Dr. Aafia and her son been shot on sight on suspicion of being suicide bombers, this would have led to a convenient closure of the case of Aafia Siddiqui at a time when a petition for habeas corpus was pending in the High Court of Pakistan in Islamabad. Note that this court had been asked to order then-President Musharraf and the Pakistani government (which would include anyone working with them) to release her or to reveal her whereabouts.
* That Dr. Aafia, who spoke no local language in Ghazni, was dressed so conspicuously in a manner to be easily identified and shot on sight as a (falsely-accused) suicide bomber as a part of someone else’s plan.
* The forensic and scientific evidence presented during the trial in New York proved that Dr. Aafia could not have committed the crimes for which she was charged, still the jury disregarded the evidence and chose to agree with the prosecution due to fear and prejudice.
What Dr. Aafia’s detractors want?:
* We are asked to believe that Dr. Aafia, a respectable Pakistani woman in all ways, is now the first and only female terrorist from Pakistan; was voluntarily hiding under cover with three children acting as a terror field operative while at the same time leaving her family to believe for five years that she and her three children were dead.
* We are asked to believe that Dr. Aafia arranged this just after her father died, after finding out her marriage was disintegrating, and after leaving her widowed mother alone in Pakistan. It is absolutely not plausible and does not even fit the traditional profile by law enforcement of female or male terrorists from that part of the world.
* In February, 2010, Dr. Aafia was tried and convicted in a US Federal court on charges of attempted murder and assaulting US servicemen in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The official charges against Dr. Aafia were that she assaulted U.S. soldiers in Ghazni, Afghanistan, with one of the servicemen’s own rifles, while she was in their custody, waiting to be interrogated by them. No US personnel were hurt but Dr. Aafia was shot and suffered serious injuries including brain damage. Dr Aafia categorically denies these charges.
* There were NO terrorism charges against Dr. Aafia.
* According to several legal observers, the trial of Dr. Aafia was littered with many inconsistencies and defects, chief among them being many rulings by the judge that strongly favored the prosecution and prejudiced the case against the defense. These ranged from allowing much hearsay evidence and jury instructions that favored the prosecution. In addition, Dr. Aafia was not represented by lawyers of her choosing and faced constant innuendos of terrorism when she was not charged with any such offense.
* As a result of Judge Richard Berman’s framing of the case in a negative light, Dr Aafia was convicted despite ALL physical and forensic evidence that showed that she could not have committed the acts she was charged with.
* Dr. Aafia remains imprisoned, now at the notorious Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York where she is kept in solitary confinement in the Special housing unit (SHU) which is the most severe confinement category. She is not allowed communication with anyone she trusts, including family members.
* She is expected to be sentenced to life in prison plus 10 years on September 23, 2010.
Dr. Aafia’s Children:
* Dr. Aafia’s oldest son, Ahmed, who is a U.S. citizen by birth, was found in Ghazni, Afghanistan after thinking he was an orphan and, in late 2008, was reunited with Dr. Aafia’s sister in Karachi, Pakistan.
* Dr. Aafia’s daughter, Maryum, also a US citizen by birth, was mysteriously “dropped off” in April 2010 near her aunt’s house in Karachi after being missing for 7 years. She was traumatized and spoke only American accented English.
* Dr. Aafia’s youngest child, Suleman, a boy who would now be about seven years old, remains missing; and is feared dead.
What Supporters and Family Seek?
* Dr. Aafia, an MIT and Brandeis laureate, is now a broken and mere shell of her former self. Under these circumstances, family and supporters are asking the U.S. government to repatriate Dr. Aafia back to her home in Pakistan.
* The Pakistani government has formally made this request as this matter has become a major public issue and has support across Pakistani political and social spectrums. Supporters and people of conscience should press government officials to get Dr. Aafia reunited with her family as soon as possible.
* An independent, open (with full public access and disclosure) and serious investigation should be undertaken into what happened to Dr. Aafia over the missing years and the whereabouts of her remaining child, so that this does not happen to other innocents.
* Dr Aafia’s family and supporters still have hope in fair minded peoples committed to mercy and justice to raise their voices. Justice for the past, for all Dr. Aafia has suffered, is hard to imagine.
* All that is asked for the future is for some measure of correction. If Dr. Aafia is repatriated, perhaps she can pick up some fragments of life with her family.
We ask people to look into this case themselves, and to do so with an open mind. There is a lot of information out there on the Internet, and in the media. Many of the stories demonize Aafia, while some raise her to sainthood. Aafia is neither demon nor saint. Aafia is simply an ordinary mother, daughter and sister trapped in an extraordinary nightmare.
Also see some summaries of some aspects of the case and trial on Dr. Aafia's degree in Cognitive NeuroScience and Revisiting Aafia's Trial at nomorecrusades.blogspot.com here and ongoing...
Posted by CN at 2:51 PM