UN Must Demand Transparency from Three States RE Dr Aafia and her Children

September 16, 2008

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
WORLD/PAKISTAN: UN must demand transparency from three states regarding the ambiguous arrest and detention of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her three young children

While welcoming the release of 11-year-old Pakistani-American, Muhammad Ahmad, from the murky realm of US custody in Afghanistan, the Asian Human Rights Commission is still waiting for information on where and why the child was detained and for how long, plus information on his current condition and official status.

No information about the child’s missing younger siblings, Marium, age nine and Suleman, five, has been released and the AHRC is extremely concerned for their welfare. The circumstances of the mother’s arrest, charge and detention by the FBI also leaves many questions unanswered. Transparency in this case, which involves three minors and three state governments, has been disturbingly absent.

Three months passed between the date the US claims it detained the boy, and his safe arrival at his aunt’s home in Pakistan on 15 September 2008. Reasons for this have not been given. Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, Ahmad’s maternal aunt – supported by her mother in Pakistan and her brother, an architect in Texas – had struggled and failed to visit her nephew, or gain custody of him after the announcement. At one point, US authorities branded her ‘disinterested’ and threatened to take him into custody in the US. Protests in the media and from human rights groups, and a personal appeal by letter from Dr Fauzia to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, secured the boy’s eventual release to his family. The doctor reports that he is emotionally distraught. The US appears to have done little for the freedom or welfare of the child, or his missing siblings, despite them being American citizens.

Since the legal status of the boy has yet to be announced, Dr Fauzia and the AHRC are concerned that he will again be taken into illegal custody. Ahmad is a minor – he is too young to have charges made against him.

He and his siblings have been missing along with their mother Dr Aafia Siddiqui, since 2003, when they disappeared shortly after the FBI named her as an Al Qaeda suspect. Media reports have suggested that that family was arrested by Pakistan authorities and handed over to the Americans, and that they have been illegally detained in Afghanistan until July this year. The AHRC is concerned that the children may have been used in the interrogation of their parents (the father being held in Guantanamo Bay), and that they may be at risk because of what they have now seen and experienced in Afghan prisons.

The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns the absolute lack of transparency or accountability shown in this case. The ethical vacuum being created by the “war on terror” appears to have spread to the abduction and illegal detention of children. The AHRC is concerned that the conflict has lost its moral compass absolutely, on all sides.

The AHRC calls on the UN to intervene and investigate the case, which defies numerous international and domestic laws, and basic human rights. Questions must be raised and answered, accountability accepted, charges and reparations made.

Furthermore, the AHRC would like to express increasing concern for the well being of the two younger Siddiqui children, and demands that they be immediately handed over to family members. Finally, the safety of Muhammad Ahmad needs to be established, and he must be given access to professionals who can help him recover from what must have been a harrowing ordeal.

For more on this case please see AHRC Statement 238-2008

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1 Comment

  1. Juls

     /  October 3, 2008

    I am a 37 year old American woman. I have just started following Dr. Siddiqui’s and her children’s story. I can not believe the American press have not ever reported about Dr. Siddiqui. What is going on? I am outraged that most of the American people have never heard Dr. Siddiqui’s sad story. Lets get her children back to her. Where do we begin?


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