FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2010
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN/USA: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui should be pardoned from her sentence of 86 years
Please sign the online petition urging President Obama to grant amnesty.
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was arrested in March 2003 by Pakistani intelligence personnel and allegedly handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Subsequently she was detained in Bagram in Afghanistan, a facility used by the American government to hold persons suspected of being agents of Al Qaida.
Although she has testified in open court about her detention in Bagram it has never been properly explained by the FBI.
There are several discrepancies with the case put forward by the American government. They have never been able to properly explain how a woman, weakened by five years of imprisonment and mistreatment was able to wrestle a weapon away from a fully trained soldier. No Americans were actually injured in the incident but they found it necessary to shot her. This is reminiscent of a police encounter killing which is common in Pakistan and Bangladesh and India.
Dr. Siddique was shot during the incident and was not given the necessary medical treatment for some months.
The case against Dr. Aafia has brought to light the extent of human rights violations carried out by the allied forces in the name of the war on terror.
It is significant that there was no information available on Dr. Siddiqui until the Asian Human Rights Commission issued its first Urgent Appeal on July 24, 2008. (link) It was shortly after the publication of this appeal that the FBI announced that she had been arrested on July 17, 2008. However, as stated above, there have been no explanations as to her whereabouts after she was arrested in March 2003.
Dr. Siddiqui was arrested with her three children, the youngest of which was an infant. The two older children have been found, however, the fate of the third one remains unknown but he is feared to have died. The children were only found after an international protest raised the issue.
Her trial does not appear to have been fair and there were several discrepancies, she was regularly denied contact with members of her family and her lawyers who believe that her mental condition is seriously in doubt. This is no doubt due to her long years of imprisonment, and mistreatment.
In view of the trauma caused to Dr. Siddiqui by her arrest, incarceration at Bagram and the loss of her children, there can be nothing worse for a mother than not knowing the condition and whereabouts of her children, we feel that for whatever crime she is accused of committing, she has suffered enough. The sentence of 86 years is far in excess of any reasonable punishment.
Therefore the Asian Human Rights Commission urges President Obama to grant her amnesty in order that she can received treatment for her mental condition and trauma and live out her remaining years with her two surviving children.
The AHRC also urges President Zadari to use his good offices to encourage his American counterpart to grant Dr. Siddiqui the amnesty she deserves for the very great hardship she has endured.
Sign the online petition urging President Obama to grant amnesty.
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.