Separate Religion from State. Declare Pakistan to be Secular – Petition

Petitioning
The Government
The Judiciary and
The Army of Pakistan!

candle-lights

To assure that incidents such as the tragedy of Peshawar and ongoing violence against minority populations do not continue to happen, and that the Taliban and other violent religious formations do not flourish in Pakistan, please acknowledge one of the root causes of it.

Separate Religion from State!

Declare Pakistan to be a Secular Democracy.

Secular Pakistan
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Make UN Recognize ‘The International Day Against State Religion’ – Sign This Petition

This petition, asking United Nations to recognize a day in the year as The International Day Against State Religion, will help us around the world to root out religious sentiment, and concepts such as blasphemy, from legal and social systems. It will help us move away from incidents like the sectarian murders of 19 Shia Muslims, and the blasphemy arrest of minor Rimsha Masih.

The initiative has been taken by Ghulam Mustafa Lakho, and we need to take it forward by siging this petition, sharing the links, and inviting our friends and colleagues to do the same.

Sign the Petition

Petition for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

To,
The Secretary-General,
United Nations,
UN Headquarters,
New York.

Please take active, effective and meaningful steps for recognizing “The International Day Against State Religion” by the United Nations in solidarity with victims of the State Religion, namely, non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

The life of non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan is as good as hell thanks to the “State Religion” of Pakistan. Thus, the need of the time is to declare that the “State Religion” is hit by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The eleven (11) words of Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, are on the record: religion has nothing to do with the business of the State. Thus, he spoke on August 11, 1947 in his 1st Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan against the “State Religion”.

None of the members of the Parliament of Pakistan has cared to pay respect to the eleven (11) words of Mr. M.A. Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan since August 11, 1947. The proof is the “State Religion” in the Constitution of Pakistan.

None of the Parliamentarians of Pakistan is ready and willing to heed the ideas of the Founder of Pakistan on the relation of Religion and State.

Under these facts and circumstances, it may be the humane duty of United Nations to recognize and celebrate the 11th day of August, 1947 as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION in the name of the Universal Human Rights in solidarity with non-Muslims and non-believers of Pakistan.

Let the United Nations come for the help of the victims of the “State Religion” in Pakistan as well as around the globe. And, let the 11th day of August, 1947 be recognized as the INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST STATE RELIGION.

Sign the Petion
http://www.change.org/en-IN/petitions/the-secretary-general-united-nations-recognize-the-international-day-against-state-religion-5

Sincerely,
Ghulam Mustafa Lakho
Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan

Contact Ghulam Mustafa Lakho
Blog: http://saynotothestatereligion.blogspot.ca/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gmlakho

Official Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-International-Day-Against-State-Religion/106460822743085

Also, if you haven’t yet,
Please sign the petition to help release Rimsha Masih
http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/freerimshamasih

A poem for the 19 murdered Shia Muslims, and the arrest of Rimsha Masih
Holier Than Life by Fauzia Rafique

From Uddari Weblog
Make UN Recognize 'The International Day Against State Religion' – Sign This Petition.

PAKISTAN: “An unforgiveable sin”

LAHORE, 3 January 2012 (IRIN) – The murder of infants, particularly girls, by poverty-stricken parents in Pakistan appears to be on the rise.

Late at night two months ago in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, the parents of a two-day-old infant girl smothered the child, and then buried her tiny body in a distant field, carefully patting down the soil to hide any signs of digging. The mother cries often and says she still has nightmares about the event.

“I cried myself; I had delivered the baby and she was perfectly healthy. But her parents had two daughters already, and felt they couldn’t afford another. The father, a labourer, earned only 4,000 rupees (US$46.50) a month, and I know those people ate just once a day,” Suriya Bibi, a `dai’ or traditional midwife from the village, told IRIN.

According to Anwar Kazmi, a spokesperson for the charitable Edhi Foundation, more and more bodies of infants are being collected from the streets. “I would say there has been a 100 percent increase over the past decade in the number of bodies of infants we find. Nine out of 10 are girls,” he told IRIN.

Girls are traditionally considered a `burden’ on families, with large sums frequently spent on their marriages. “People feel girls make no economic contribution to families,” Gulnar Tabassum, a women’s rights activist, told IRIN.

Kazmi said 1,210 bodies of dead infants were found last year – compared to 999 in 2009.

“The reasons are linked to mindset and to poverty,” he said. While the Edhi Foundation places cradles outside the orphanages it runs, and urges people to leave babies in them rather than kill them, only a few choose to do so.

According to the Foundation, about 200 babies are left each year in the 400 cradles it puts out nationwide with signs urging parents to use them.

Since children born out of wedlock in this conservative society are at greater risk of infanticide, the Foundation encourages the placing of such children with responsible surrogate parents.

“These children are innocent,” said Kazmi.

No accurate statistics

The Foundation also collects its data mainly from larger cities. It is unknown how many other deaths may be taking place in rural areas, or regions in the tribal areas and Balochistan and Sindh provinces where official figures show poverty is highest.

The mothers themselves wish to save the children but they also see the economic struggle of their families in a time of growing inflation. “The number of tiny babies we bury is increasing. In some cases the neck or wrists have been slashed open,” said Muhammad Taufiq, a gravedigger in Lahore.

“I have had women who are pregnant come to me crying, because their husbands or in-laws say any baby born must be killed since they cannot raise it. I can do little to help, since abortion is illegal in the country, and for various cultural reasons the use of birth control is far too low, though many woman want to use it,” said gynaecologist Faiqa Siddiq who works at a charitable clinic for women.

According to data from the Federal Bureau of Statistics reported in the media, non-perishable food items saw price rises of 11.83 percent in the year to November 2011. Other percentage increases during the year were: tomatoes (42.02), spices (36.37), fresh fruit (29.62), betel leaves and nuts (24.56), condiments (23.50), milk (21.11), milk products (20.47), beverages (19.79), cooking oil (19.56), and meat (19.35).

“Times are becoming harder and harder. I have just given birth to my fourth child. We will do all we can to raise the children, and murder of course is an unforgivable sin, but sometimes I understand the despair of parents who do so,” said Safia Bibi, a washerwoman whose husband is an odd-job man.

The family earns a monthly income of Rs. 6,000 ($70). “The children go barefoot because just feeding them is next to impossible. We survive mainly on `roti’ [bread] and pickles,” she said.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

http://www.irinnews.org/Report/94574/PAKISTAN-An-unforgiveable-sin#.T7fmZ2rPWyE.facebook
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What about the murdered kids?

Dilip Simeon
February 4, 2011

The recent controversy over the Supreme Court’s January 21 judgement on the Graham Staines murder is revealing. To begin with, Justices P. Sathasivam and B. S. Chauhan saw fit to make certain gratuitous remarks: “the intention was to teach a lesson to Graham Staines about his religious activities, namely, converting poor tribals to Christianity”.

It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone’s belief by way of ‘use of force’, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better.” It’s not clear whether they’re saying there were such grounds for complaint against Staines ( the Wadhwa Commission found “no extraordinary increase in the Christian population in Keonjhar district between 1991 and 1998”); or if the judges were merely saying that Dara Singh believed Staines to be converting people.

Implications
Be that as it may, following protests by Christian organisations and members of civil society, the judges modified their judgement on January 25. They deleted the reference to Dara Singh’s intentions; and replaced it with the following: “more than 12 years have elapsed since the act was committed, we are of the opinion that the life sentence awarded by the High Court need not be enhanced…” It also replaced the references to “interference in someone’s belief by way of ‘ use of force’, provocation…” etc., with the sentence “There is no justification for interfering in someone’s religious belief by any means.” Christian organisations welcomed the judges’ decision to expunge or modify the two sentences, but the matter still carries grave implications.

The issue is not the rights and wrongs of conversion, which may be debated, but the citation of communal animus as a justification for murder. Undoubtedly some Christian evangelical groups use objectionable language and means to convert people.

They can be countered by civic protest and legal proceedings – there are several laws regulating religious conversion. The issue before the Court was an act of pre-meditated murder, in which there were not one, but three victims. We are talking about the law, and section 302, IPC. The SC’s modification remains tinged with sinister implications. It would appear that the change was made with regard to offended sentiment, rather than in recognition of a flawed argument.

While the decision to spare Dara Singh’s life is a welcome one, the reasoning supplied by the honourable Justices is disturbing.

They say, “there is no justification for interfering in someone’s religious belief by any means.” The reference to religion has been watered down, but remains. The implications are that 1/ Staines was indeed so interfering – for which there was no official complaint, nor reference in the Wadhwa Commission report; and 2/ that communal animus is a mitigating (rather than exacerbating) factor in pre-meditated murder.

Even more disturbing is the fact that the judges have rendered invisible (as regards the punishment meted out to the culprit) the deaths of two little boys, Timothy aged 6, and Philip, aged 10. Even if Graham Staines was indulging in objectionable activity, he did not deserve to be murdered for his sins. And even if the Staines’ were Christian evangelists, their children could hardly be guilty of offending any law or anyone’s religious sentiments. If the extenuating factors relating to conversion apply to the murder of Graham Staines, what factors could possibly attenuate the crime of burning alive two small boys? The judges have allowed their consciences to erase even the natural sympathy we feel about their terrible plight.

Their comments – before and after their modification – are tantamount to blaming the victims for their fate. They violate the spirit of the Constitution and the norms of human decency; and they add weight to the normalisation of violence in the Indian polity.

Justice
Judges are not elected officials. The judicial conscience is separate from public belief insofar as it cannot be led by popular prejudice or stereotypical modes of thought. One such stereotype is manifested in the doctrine of collective guilt that may be found, for example, in the Biblical accusation that the blood of Christ lies upon the heads of all Jews till eternity. More generally, it vests in the idea that the sins of the fathers are visited upon their sons. This is one of the most noxious ideas in human history, and has found its way into every form of communal ideology. Early in 1985, I heard a justice of the Delhi High Court say something similar in response to the PUDR petition praying for the registration of cases in the matter of the carnage of Delhi’s Sikh citizens in November 1984.

The judge dismissed the prayer, saying, as he did so, that “there was a background to the killings.” He was alluding to the murder of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. By speaking thus, he was alluding to the idea of collective guilt.

There is indeed a background to everything, but surely no thoughtful person, let alone a judge, can argue that a crime committed by a member of this or that religious group somehow taints every member of the criminal’s community. For a judge to suggest that communal hatred diminishes the gravity of a heinous crime is a travesty of justice.

Communalism
The Supreme Court recently asked a minister to be temperate in his speech.

Their own choice of words carries far more weight than that of any minister.

Judges derive their authority from the seats they occupy, and society’s trust in their fair- mindedness and wisdom. The Bench is superior to the persons who temporarily occupy it. That is why there is a constitutional provision for the impeachment of judges. It is within the realm of possibility that judges can commit contempt of court. The Staines’ judgement comes close to exemplifying such contempt. The learned Justices could have endorsed the judgement of the High Court and left it at that. But they chose to act otherwise.

The central danger to the Indian polity is communalism, and it works via ideas and prejudice, not organisational affiliation.

The Kandhamal cases, arising out of events initiated by the murder of Swami Lakshmanananda by Maoists in 2008, and followed by an orgy of collective retribution upon poor Christian villagers, will be adversely affected by this judgement. If our highest judges wittingly or otherwise provide barely- disguised legitimation for criminal deeds, our Constitution is doomed. Speaking out against this judgement is the least we can do to atone for the cruelty with which little Timothy and Philip were deprived of their innocent lives.

http://indiatoday.intoday.in

Drop Blasphemy Charges Against 17-Year-Old

Student’s Case Underscores Urgent Need to Repeal Abusive Law

(New York, February 2, 2011) – The Pakistani government should immediately drop blasphemy charges against a 17-year-old student and ensure his safe release from detention, Human Rights Watch said today.

The authorities arrested Muhammad Samiullah on January 28, 2011, and charged him under Pakistan’s “blasphemy law,” article 295-C of the criminal code, for allegedly including derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad in his answers on a written school exam in April 2010. According to press reports, police at Shahra Noor Jahan Police Station in Karachi registered a case against Samiullah after receiving a complaint from the chief controller of the intermediate level education board. On January 29, a judicial magistrate, Ehsan A. Malik, ordered Samiullah sent to a juvenile prison pending trial.

“Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on an exam paper is truly appalling,” said Bede Sheppard, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It’s bad enough that a school official flagged it, but for police and judicial authorities to go ahead and lock up a teenager under these circumstances is mind boggling.”

The police have said that they cannot report exactly what was written in the exam paper as doing so would also amount to blasphemy.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty to which Pakistan is a party, guarantees everyone under age 18 the right to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, and religion.

Section 295-C of Pakistan’s penal code makes the death penalty mandatory for blasphemy. Although this case involves a Muslim, Human Rights Watch has documented how the law is often used to persecute and discriminate against religious minorities in Pakistan.

Pakistan has applied the blasphemy law to children before, Human Rights Watch said. On February 9, 1995, Salamat Masih, a Pakistani Christian boy who was then 14 was sentenced to death for blasphemy by a lower court in Lahore, Pakistan, for allegedly writing derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad on the wall of a mosque. He was also sentenced to two years’ hard labor and fined. Masih was acquitted on February 23, 1995, because the court found that he was, in fact, illiterate. Masih then fled the country out of concerns for his safety. Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti, who acquitted Masih, was assassinated in his chambers at the Lahore High Court in 1997. The assassin, who was subsequently arrested, claimed to have murdered the judge as revenge for acquitting Masih.

Hundreds of people have been charged under section 295-C since it was added to the penal code in 1986 by Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the military ruler at that time. In 2009, authorities charged scores of people under the law, including at least 50 members of the Ahmadiyya religious community. Many of those charged remain in prison.

Pakistani and international human rights organizations have long called for the repeal of the blasphemy law. The law has come under renewed scrutiny in recent months as a consequence of a death sentence imposed on November 8, 2010, on Aasia Bibi, an illiterate farmhand from Sheikhupura district in Punjab province.

Extremists responded to government attempts to pardon Aasia Bibi with a campaign of intimidation, violence, and threats against critics of the law. On January 5, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, was assassinated, and the man charged with the killing said he had committed the crime because Taseer had called the blasphemy law a “black law.” Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s former information minister who in November proposed a parliamentary bill to amend the law, has also received death threats, which Pakistan’s government has ignored.

“While Pakistan’s government keeps up the mantra that it will not allow ‘misuse’ of the law, government inaction has only emboldened extremists,” Sheppard said. “Until this law is repealed, it will be used to brutalize religious minorities, children, and other vulnerable groups.”

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on children’s right issues, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/category/topic/children%E2%80%99s-rights

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Pakistan, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/asia/pakistan

For more information, please contact:
In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-7908-728-333 (mobile)
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In New York, Bede Sheppard (English) +1-917-664-3727 (mobile)
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The Crimson Earth

By Noreen Haider

December 22, 2010, Gujranwala
Shumila, a newly wed bride, murdered by the bridegroom, who staged a dacoity-cum-murder drama to mislead the police after killing his bride over the demand of a car in dowry which the parents of the girl could not afford. Shumaila was offering prayers when Sajid opened fire on her temple and later wounded himself by shooting on his one leg. He later confessed to the killing.
January 16, 2011, Multan
Hina, nine years old, subjected to sexual assault before being murdered in Multan according to the postmortem report. The unfortunate child, left her home to buy some food items from a nearby shop, but she never returned. Her body was later recovered from Basti Khudadad.
January 19, Lahore
Allah Rakhi, forty, killed by her husband on the allegation of illicit relations in Ghaziabad Lahore. Police arrested the accused who confessed his crime and also admitted to killing his 17-year-old daughter Surriya Bibi by strangling her five months ago. Allah Rakhi was hit by hammer repeatedly on her head, which resulted in her instant death. The body of Surriya Bibi was recovered from an empty plot by the police.
January 19, Dera Ghazi Khan
Khursheed twenty one and Nadra twenty three were ambushed by their father and uncles and showered with bullets while returning to their home town of Mozah Marhaata in Pir Adil Village of Dera Ghazi Khan. The two women were allegedly trying to escape a forced marriage. They left their home nearly 18 days ago. The family members were trying to bury their bodies when a SHO, managed to recover the bodies of the victims.
January 20, Khanewal
Asma, eight months pregnant, beaten by iron rods to death by her husband abetted by his family. Asma was tortured in front of her mother, who was held in place by some men, at Kot Abdullah village in Khanewal. The postmortem report confirms torture and death by poison. The police have arrested her husband who has confessed to the killing.
January 20, Vehari
Shaista, seven months pregnant, killed by her husband allegedly over suspicions of having an illicit relationship. She was choked to death by stuffing a piece of cloth in her mouth. Her husband Yousaf and his father, Hafeez, were arrested by the police where they admitted to killing Shazia.
January 21, Multan
Zainab Bibi, wife of a laborer was gang raped after her husband Arshad Muhammad asked a local landlord Ameen to pay his wages. The landlord owed him thirty thousand rupees. On the demand of payment, Arshad was verbally abused and brutally beaten with sticks by the hit men of the landlord. Later, Zainab was abducted by Ameen and his accomplices and was taken to Ameen’s farmhouse where she was gang raped. A few hours later she was thrown near her house badly injured. Local police officials refused to file the FIR against the criminals. The case was registered only after Khanewal district session judge Ijaz Ahmed Butt took notice of the case. Ameen and his accomplice fled the district and are now at large.
22 January, Lahore
Shazia, 26, was brutally beaten by her husband along with his brothers and other members of his family and then thrown from the roof critically injuring her and breaking her legs, arms, jaw and head. Police initially refused to file a case against the culprits. She, the mother of four children, is still hanging between life and death. Her family is constantly receiving death threats from her in-laws in case they pursue the case. The main culprit is still at large.
January 22, Burewala
Najma Bibi is reported missing for days after her in-laws disgraced her in the name of honor in Mochiwala, Bherowala. In line with the decision of the panchayat, the in-laws of Najma Bibi, 24, cut her hair, blackened her face and paraded her in the streets on the allegation of having illicit relations with a man of the same village. Najma and her children were later evicted from the village on the orders of the Panchayat which ruled that an example should be made of her before she was turned out of the village.
January 23, Bahawalpur
Saima, 17, electrocuted to death in Bahawalpur district on the orders of a Panchayat that comprised of her father and three uncles. Her crime was that she had eloped with a man in the neighborhood and married him. According to eye witnesses there were signs of severe torture and burn injuries on her body.

It may seem that these cases are taken out of the plot of some horror movie or are stories from the land of barbarians who have never seen the light of modern day world but in reality these are but a few of the reported cases of violent crimes against women, in the very first month of the new year. Every day women are being killed in excruciatingly painful ways and there is no apparent end to it. All the above cited cases have occurred in the Punjab where the rulers have tall claims of “good governance”

It is preposterous that Panchayat (the informal local councils) are still continuing in Pakistan and handing out verdicts including death sentences against women. These courts have no legal or constitutional authority and they have no business running a parallel system of vigilante justice.

It is the complete failure of the provincial governments, district administrations and the law enforcement agencies that the Panchayats are handing out death sentences to helpless women.

The Chief Minister Punjab, Home Department, IG Police and the Law Minister are directly responsible for the horrendous situation in Punjab regarding violent crimes against women.

The regular occurrence of these cases has exposed the crumbling administrative system in Punjab and the even poorer intelligence system. The Central Intelligence Department is doing a poor job of gathering intelligence about developing situations which precipitate into such violent crimes. The police are lagging behind most of the time, and actually do nothing to prevent crimes against women. Even after the occurrence of such crimes, the inertia continues. The family members of rape victims have to virtually get raped themselves in order to get the police to come out of their slumber and register the case.

But the real cause of alarm is not just the brutal killings, rape and maiming of women by their own family members, but the effortless ease and fearless ways these horrific crimes are now being carried out right under the noses of the district administration, in broad daylight. The killers and abettors have neither any fear of the law nor of any social condemnation. In fact in many cases the killing of the “allegedly tainted women” by the family is taken as a sign of honour and he-man-ship.

Although the response of the police and the law enforcing agencies is pitiable and they have a dismal record in handling the cases of violence against women but how the communities and society reacts towards it is much more significant. The reaction of the neighbors, larger family, religious leaders, prayer leaders, local mystics, influentials and elders, whose words hold importance, all constitute the overall society that matters to an individual and if there is no condemnation there and no adverse reaction then it is, in fact a tacit approval for the act. In this scenario the state and its organs can not work effectively in the prevention or control of the crime.

The shocking rapidity with which these crimes are occurring is a commentary on the overall deteriorating psyche of the regressive society in Pakistan generally and in Punjab particularly as majority of the crimes against women are being reported in Punjab. It is also a reflection on how the weak segments of the community are becoming more and more vulnerable with the traditional social protection networks deteriorating fast and the state being a total failure in providing protection to any of its citizens.

The society which does not show any abhorrence for horrendous crimes against humanity is a morally dead society. We are now living in a country of dead men walking. Oblivious to the blood and gore stories around them and in a state of self imposed trance. If there was any life left in them they would have protested for young Hina, for the seventeen year old Saima, for Najma. They would have protested for someone. But the silence is deafening. There is no one willing to take a stand for any of these women.

As for the ruling elite they are busy playing the fiddle like Nero and enjoying their super luxury lifestyles comparable to any oil rich Shiekh in the Middle East.

I want to ask all the leaders of the religious groups and parties the reason for this strange silence against the brutality of men slaughtering their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers. Why such abhorrence for women? What is preventing them from coming out in public and declaring “Fatwas” against the perpetrators and abettors of the crimes against women in the name of honour? How can a man justify his act by taking refuge in religious decrees against immoralities when he himself is committing murders?

As the sanctions for these crimes are inferred through the morality derived through religion, I beseech the Islamic scholars “The Ulemas” to come out of their inertia and play a positive role to save women from the blood bath going on. I beg them to pass their declarations, “Fatwas” now about men butchering women and clearly state where they stand in the scheme of things. Why can’t the Ulema use the power they have to pressurize the governments and mobilize public to rally the around this issue? Is it not also blasphemous that men are butchering women in a country where the love for the Prophet (SW) is sworn by all? What would the Prophet (SW) think of His faithful being silent spectators in the face of such brutality?

It is the obligation of the religious scholars to come out and declare the right of women with regard to their own marriage. Regarding a woman’s right to marry a person of her choice, a point that is relevant in Saima’s case, is a right granted to women by Islam and the constitution of Pakistan and upheld by numerous court judgments. All consensual marriages are perfectly legal and “Islamic”.

The blood of Shumaila, Hina, Allah Rakhi, Saima and Najma and all the slain women is calling every conscientious human being left in this country. Their blood will not run dry but will continue to seep in the earth staining every inch of this land until it becomes the Crimson Earth.

January 29, 2011
From SPN Newsletter.
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Aafia Siddiqui: WILL US Attorney General Call for a Mis-trial?

Letter to US Attorney general from Yvonne Ridley

DID JUDGE BERMAN MAKE A MISTAKE – WILL US ATTORNEY GENERAL CALL FOR A MIS-TRIAL?

Dear Mr Holder,

I am a journalist and film-maker who has been investigating the rather intriguing case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui since her disappearance with her three children in 2003.

Can you please tell me why a Pakistani citizen, who allegedly carried out a crime in Afghanistan, was charged, tried and sentenced in a US court?

Not only did the alleged crime happen in another country, but Ms Siddiqui was renditioned without formal extradition papers and without correct consular access according to official US records.

No other citizen, from anywhere else in the world, has ever been put on trial in a US criminal court for the attempted murder of US soldiers although quite clearly, from the horrific statistics coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan the death toll and injuries of US soldiers is now running in excess of tens of thousands.

Can we assume from this that the US is now in full occupation, and therefore in control of sovereignty of Afghanistan or did Judge Richard Berman simply make a mistake by accepting such a case in to his court?

I have copied in Lord Nazir Ahmed from the British House of Lords in to this email since he has taken a particularly close interest in the whole case.

I look forward to a response soonest.

Kind regards
Yvonne Ridley
First Witness Productions Ltd.
London
ENGLAND

Aafia Siddiqui should be pardoned: Sign the Petition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-199-2010
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.

86 Years for Aafia Siddiqui

JFAC STATEMENT ON SENTENCING OF AAFIA SIDDIQUI
23 September 2010

On the afternoon of 23rd September 2010 Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three Aafia Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years on five charges by Judge Berman in a Manhattan courtroom.

The Justice for Aafia Coalition released the following statement:

“We are deeply saddened by the harsh sentence passed on Dr Aafia Siddiqui by Judge Richard Berman today. At such a difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Aafia’s family, who have been separated from her since March 2003.

It has now been over seven and a half years since Dr Siddiqui was abducted with her three young children by Pakistani and American agencies. She has since been separated from her children and family, detained in a series of secret prisons and physically and psychologically abused by her captors. Following a blatantly prejudiced and unfair trial in which little conclusive evidence of her guilt was presented, she was found guilty.

We hoped that Judge Berman would have opened his eyes to the manifest injustice that has been committed against Dr Siddiqui and repatriated her to her country. But it seems that Judge Berman was adamant in his position despite the enormous level of public support for Aafia. Last week, Iran, in a goodwill gesture, released Sarah Shourd, an American woman accused of espionage, a crime against the state punishable by death. We are disappointed that the United States has been unable to exercise a similar degree of mercy and leniency in the case of another innocent woman who stands accused of crimes against its government.

While we are disappointed by Judge Berman’s decision, we condemn in the strongest terms the stance of the Pakistani government towards this beloved daughter of the nation. While we must never look to the wolf for protection, we expect the shepherd to care for his flock. The Pakistani government has from the outset been complicit in Aafia’s disappearance and detention, and has displayed nothing but contempt for its people and dignity through its cowardly stance in requesting her repatriation. They are a stain upon the honourable reputation of the country.

JFAC will continue the struggle for justice for Dr Aafia to try and secure her freedom and unite her with her family and loved ones. We remind Aafia’s supporters that this struggle may seem tiresome but as Imam Ahmad advised his student, we will only find rest when our feet set foot in paradise.”

Notes for editor:
1. The Justice for Aafia Coalition is an umbrella body for a number of organizations, groups, and activists created in February 2010 to campaign for the release and return of Aafia Siddiqui and for the opening of a full investigation into the circumstances of her detention.

2. Aafia Siddiqui’s lawyers maintain that she was abducted by the Pakistani and US agents along with her three children in 2003 and rendered to Afghanistan where she was detained by American forces for over five years. Siddiqui claims she was abused and tortured throughout her detention. She was convicted in February 2010 of allegedly firing on US soldiers while in custody in what appears to have been a grave miscarriage of justice. Her son Ahmed was released in September 2008 from Afghan custody, and her daughter Maryam was eventually recovered in April 2010. For full details of the case, please visit www.justiceforaafia.org

3. For media enquiries contact info@justiceforaafia.org

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