Report updating status of female political prisoners in Evin prison

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Report updating status of female political prisoners in Evin prisonCommittee of Human Rights Reporters – At 33 detainees, the women’s ward at Evin prison has reached the largest number of prisoners in the past 3 years. Some of the prisoners are suffering with psychological and physical maladies while many have been deprived of their right to furlough.The new round of summons and arrests of political and civil female activists continues. In the past 2 months the number of female political prisoners has reached 33 as activists who had been detained during the events that took place after the contested presidential elections, have been summoned to serve their prison sentences. According to the detainees in the past years, the average number of prisoners in the women’s ward has been 28 and has never increased until now. In addition there is news that at least 10 more women will be transferred to this ward in the near future.Below is a list of the 33 female detainees who are being held in the women’s ward at Evin prison.

1) Basma Al Jabouri – Iraqi citizen accused of spying, 5-year prison sentence, has served one year.

2) Bahareh Hedyayat – Student and women’s rights activist, member of the student organization Advar-e TahkimeVehdat, 10-year prison sentence, has served about 3 years.

3) BehnazZaker – Arrested at airport about 4 months ago before a scheduled flight to Sweden and kept in prison in undetermined circumstance.

4) RaheleZokayi – Among the lesser-known prisoners, one-year prison sentence for “propaganda against the regime.”

5) Reyhaneh Haj EbrahimDagagh – Among the detainees of the Ashura mass protests in 2009, 15-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO, has served 3 years with no furlough.

6) JilaBaniyaghoub–Journalist and women’s rights activist, who has been behind bars for over a month. She was sentenced to one year in prison on the charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the leadership.” Her husband BahmanAhmadiAmoui is also a journalist who is behind bars in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. He received a 5-year prison sentence of which he has endured 3.5 years.

7) JilaKaramzadehMakundi – Political prisoner, poet and member of the Mourning Mothers of Laleh Park, 2-year prison sentence, has served about 11 months.

8) ShabnamMadadzadeh – Political prisoner charged with affiliation with MKO and handed 5-year prison sentence. Arrested in February 2009 and has spent 3.5 years behind bars without the right to furlough.

9) Shiva NazarAhari – Human rights activist who was handed a 4-year prison sentence by the court. She was transferred to prison about a month ago. Previously, she spent over 100 days in solitary confinement and 9 months in women’s Ward 209 (Intelligence Ministry’s Ward), and 3 months in the women’s general ward of Evin prison.

10) SedighehMoradi – Political prisoner charged with affiliation with MKO, handed 10-year prison sentence of which she has served one year.

11) SoghraGholamnezad – Political prisoner who was transferred to the women’s ward at Evin about 3 months ago. She is serving a 2-year prison sentence handed by the Revolutionary Court on charges of affiliation with MKO.

12) FaezehHashemi – Political prisoner who was transferred to Evin 2 weeks ago to serve 6-month prison sentence.

13) FaribahKamalabadi – Baha’i prisoner who was an administrator at “Yaran-e Iran”, a Baha’i organization. She has been kept behind bars since her arrest in 2006. She was handed a 20-year prison sentence of which she has served 5 years without her right to furlough.

14) FaranHesami – Baha’i citizen with 5-year prison sentence. This mother of a 3-year old toddler was transferred behind bars about 3 months ago. Hesami was arrested when she went to Evin Prison’s Sentence Enforcement Unit to obtain a power of attorney for her incarcerated husband. Her husband Kamran Rahimian is an educator at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (Baha’i Online University), serving a 4-year prison sentence at Rajai Shahr prison, on charges of “membership in the Baha’i community,” and “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security.”

15) KobraBanazadehAmirkhizi – political prisoner handed 5-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has served 4 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

16) KefayatMalekMohammadi – 60-year-old citizen arrested in 2009 during Ashura mass protests, charged with MKO affiliation, 15-year prison sentence of which she has served 3 years behind bars.

17) LadanMostofiMaab – Political prisoner with 2.5-year prison sentence, has served 2 years and 3 months without any furlough.

18) LevaKhanjani – Baha’i citizen banned from continuing her education, appeared at Tehran’s Evin Prison on Saturday, August 25, 2012 to begin serving her 2-year prison term.

19) MahboubehKarami – Political, women and human rights activist sentenced to 3 years in prison by branch 54 of the Revolutionary Appellate Court on February 2, 2011. She was charged with membership in a human rights organization, “propaganda against the regime,” and “gathering and collusion with intent to harm national security.” She has spent one and a half years in prison.

20) Maryam AkbariMonfared – Political prisoner with 15-year sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has been in prison since her arrest 3 years ago without her right to furlough.

21) Maryam Jalili – Christian convert with 2.5-year prison sentence on the charge of changing her religion. She has spent about a year in prison without her right to furlough.

22) MotaharehBahrami – Detained in 2009 during Ashura protests. She was handed a 10-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has spent about a year behind bars with no furlough.

23) MitraZahmati – Christian convert with 2.5-year prison sentence on the charge of changing her religion. She has spent about a year in prison without her right to furlough.

24) ManijehNajm Iraqi – Women’s rights activist, member of Iranian Author’s Club, worked as interpreter and author. Revolutionary Court handed a one-year prison sentence of which she has spent 5 months behind bars. She was charged with membership in Iranian Author’s Club and publishing their work. The allegations made against her were based on taking part in events for Mohammad Mokhtari, Mohammad Ja’farPouvandeh, AhmadShamlou.

25) ManijehNaserAllahi – Handed 3.5-year prison sentence on charges of following the Baha’’i faith. She has spent 2.5 years behind bars with only 3 days on furlough.

26) MahsaAmirabadi – Handed a 2-year prison sentence of which she has spent 5 months behind bars. Her husband MasoudBastani is a journalist also behind bars serving a 6-year prison sentence in Rajai Shahr prison. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “collusion to disrupt national security.”

27) MahvashShariyati – Behind bars since 2008, serving 20-year prison term on charges of following the Baha’i faith and membership on board of Yarane Iran, which is a Baha’i organization.

28) NazaninDeyhimi – Transferred to prison about 2 weeks ago to serve 4-month sentence stemming from charge of taking part in post-election protests.

29) NegarHaeri – Political prisoner who was detained about 3 months ago and has been held without being charged. Her father MashaalaHaeri is serving a 15-year prison sentence behind bars in Raja’i Shahr prison on charges of affiliation with MKO.

30) Nasrin Sotoudeh – Lawyer and human rights activist serving 6-year prison sentence. She is also barred from practicing law for 10 years. She was charged with “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the regime,” and “membership in a human rights organization.” She has spent 2 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

31) NasimSoltanBaygi – Journalist and student activist handed 3-year prison sentence on charges of following the Baha’i faith. She has spent 1.5 years of her sentence behind bars.

32) NoushinKhadem – A lecturer at the Baha’i Science Institution, handed a 4-year prison sentence for being a follower of the Baha’i faith. She began serving her sentence on September 16, 2012.

33) HaniyehSanehFarshi – Political prisoner and blogger, 7-year prison sentence on charges of blasphemy, propaganda against the regime, acting against national security and insulting Islamic sanctities. She has served 2.5 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

According to information obtained by Committee of Human Rights Reporters, in the next few days another 10 women will be transferred to Evin prison. With the new wave of prisoners about to enter the facility and the many unknown prisoners who have not been listed in the news, it is predicted that the women’s ward in Evin prison will be over capacity. With the arrival of cold winter months and the lack of adequate medical care for political prisoners there is serious concern about the deficient conditions that the prisoners will have to endure.

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Death Sentences to 4 Women 2 Men for singing and dancing

A tribal ‘jirga’ or council in northern Pakistan has condemned four women and two men to death for “staining the honour” of their families by singing and dancing at a wedding, according to a media report today.

The men and women from Hazara division in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province were allegedly caught on videotape singing and dancing at a wedding in violation of the tribal custom of gender segregation, The Express Tribune reported.

The men managed to flee before the jirga could act against them. The jirga has tasked 40 young men to kill the men and women.

“A tribal jirga has declared them Ghul (fornicators). And they might be killed any time,” said Muhammad Afzal, the elder brother of two men condemned to death.

Afzal said the women allegedly sang ‘mahiyas’ or folk songs at the wedding and danced in the presence of ‘na-mehram’ or those who one can marry in Islam.

The wedding took place two months ago in Bando Baidar village. Some guest filmed the women and men singing and dancing with a mobile phone. The amateur video was later sent to the women’s relatives, the report said.

The tribe to which the women belong was angered by the video. It convened a jirga of elders a month ago and they found the women and men guilty of violating tribal and Islamic norms by singing and dancing together.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pak-jirga-sentences-6-to-death-for-attending-mixed-gathering/954789/

Update

KOHISTAN: Four women and two boys were sentenced to death by a jirga (assembly) over group dance at a wedding ceremony in Kohistan, SAMAA reported on Monday.

Two boys managed to flee the area.

According to reports, four women and two boys had danced together at a wedding ceremony in Sirtay Village of Kohistan two months ago. On this, villagers held a jirga, which awarded death sentence for all four women and two boys.

All four women, two of them married, had been locked in one room.

According to Hazara Commissioner Khalid Umarzai, eight elders of the villages assured the police that these women would not be harmed.

He said a police team has reached the village to probe the issue.

SAMAA
http://www.samaa.tv/newsdetail.aspx?ID=48223

Pakistan’s ‘illegitimate daughters’

By Gulmina Bilal Ahmad

Why is there not an uproar for the woes of the daughters of Pakistan who were stoned in Swat and, presently, in Orakzai Agency? Daughters like Mukhtaran Mai, of course, are not comparable with American daughters of Pakistani origin like Aafia because, perhaps, the former are illegitimate

A cartoon is truly worth a thousand columns, protests and articles. This week, a cartoon proclaiming Faisal Shahzad to be the ‘son of Pakistan’ said it all. As expected, every visible and invisible beard in the country is falling over backwards to appear more enraged than the other over the imagined slight. Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the proclaimed daughter of Islam, the ummah and Pakistan, has already succeeded in igniting passion and indignation in the country. At the time of writing these words, the Afghan Taliban have already kidnapped a British development worker from Afghanistan as a “means of revenge for Aafia”. Calls for walks and protests have been given by parliamentarians who have already staged the first walk against the sentence. There have even been calls by some circles to sever ties with the US and NATO over the pronouncement of a sentence to this ‘daughter’. Interestingly, the MQM has declared that if they were in government, they
would have severed all diplomatic relations with the US. The question that begs to be answered is: if they are not in the government, then who is? But I digress.

The newspapers are full of reports about the statements coming from Aafia’s family. Such is the self-assessed interest of the media in this issue that one of the papers ran a front page story on who Aafia’s family is talking to and who is being denied this honour. Apparently, the decision at the highest level has also been taken to send a parliamentary delegation to the US, including Dr Aafia’s sister, to lodge a protest. This is in addition to flying in her team of lawyers and her US-based brother — at the government’s expense — to Pakistan to ‘consult’ with the government over the next course of action. The government’s expense, of course, means that while there is no money for higher education, there is a lot of money to bail out non-Pakistani Muslim daughters running amuck.

Steps to bring this daughter of Islam and Pakistan back home, wherever home might be, might be necessary according to some. Perhaps, Aafia’s case should be pursued but one fails to understand why there is discrimination amongst the siblings. While the parliamentarians walk behind the opposition leader for Aafia, why do we not hear calls of “we will not rest easily” until the missing persons that have been ‘missing’ for years within Pakistan are located? Why is there not an uproar for the woes of the daughters of Pakistan who were stoned in Swat and, presently, in Orakzai Agency? Or, perhaps, the two daughters of the ummah who were buried alive in Balochistan after dogs were set after them. Daughters like Mukhtaran Mai, of course, are not comparable with American daughters of Pakistani origin like Aafia because, perhaps, the former are illegitimate.

At the time of writing these words, there are 7,000 women and children residing in 75 jails in the country. Out of these, 1,500 are in dismal conditions. According to the National Commission for the Status of Women (NCSW), 88 percent of the female prisoners are in jail only because of the ambiguities in the Zina Ordinance. However, parliamentarians do not stage walks for them, no commissions are sent anywhere in the country, no one meets their families and their ordeal is not a slap on anyone’s face simply because they are illegitimate. Legitimacy, it seems, only comes from Aafia.

A word of caution on the subject of daughters, legitimate or otherwise. Those who declare that Aafia is the daughter of Islam, Pakistan and the Muslim ummah, should remember, then, who their sons-in-law are. Aafia’s husband Mr Ammar al Baluchi is the nephew of Mr Khalid Sheikh Mohammed of 9/11 fame. We all have unsavoury uncles who get mixed up in the wrong company but investigation has revealed some roads leading to the nephew too. A detainee at the Guantanamo Bay, the son-in-law of the Muslim ummah was allegedly involved in financing the 9/11 attacks. If the trial of Aafia is “a slap on the whole Islamic world”, according to Altaf Hussain, then the trial of her husband should qualify as a slap on one side of the face at the very least.

Speaking of trials, the very characters present within the ‘Aafia mafia’, as columnist Fasi Zaka puts it, are also the ones who are sworn supporters of judicial supremacy. Food for thought for them as they endure the long wait till October 13: do they believe in the supremacy of the judiciary only in Pakistan? Dr Aafia was tried. Evidence was presented against her and the judiciary has spoken. How has this judicial decision become a fight between Islam and the West?

When will we learn? This is not a fight between Islam and the West just as militant groups do not represent anything more than the Wahabiist funded, inspired, encouraged, and promoted brand of bigotry. Just this year, a total of 9,009 civilians died in terrorist attacks, along with a total of 3,215 security personnel and 19,019 terrorists. This brings us to a total of 31,243 Pakistanis who died just this year because of the twisted worldviews that they want to impose on all of us. This is opposed to a total of 189 deaths in total in 2003, 863 in 2004, 648 in 2005, 1,471 in 2006, 3,590 in 2007, 6,715 in 2008 and 11,704 in 2009. In other words, a total of 56,431 have died in the last seven years. Yet, we declare that this war is not ours. If it was not previously, perhaps it is high time that it should be now. For the person sitting in San Francisco or Paris, militant groups and their apologists pose a terrorist threat. For us in Pakistan, it is terrorist
reality.

The writer is an Islamabad-based consultant. She can be reached at : coordinator@individualland.com

– Posted to CMKP Digest Number 2261 by “Andreanos” shafique100@yahoo.com
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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

Repatriate Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to her home in Pakistan!

We urge all individuals concerned with human rights to sign this international petition to U.S. and Pakistani government officials, urging the immediate repatriation to Pakistan of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.

SIGN THE PETITION AT
http://www.iacenter.org/SiddiquiPetition

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is being held in federal prison in New York City awaiting sentencing, now scheduled for September 23. This is a campaign for justice, solidarity and compassion for a woman and a political prisoner who has been severely injured and abused.

A coordinated campaign of petitions will be delivered in NYC, London, and to officials in Pakistan on August 14 – Pakistan Independence Day. The kidnapping and illegal extradition to the U.S. of this Pakistani citizen is an insult to the dignity of all Pakistanis and an affront to Pakistan’s sovereignty.

In New York City petitions will be presented at 12 noon on Saturday, August 14 at the Pakistan Mission to the United Nations at 8 East 65th St, between 5th Ave and Madison Ave, NY, NY 10065 to the office of Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon.

Messages will call for this simple act of compassion during the month of Ramadan.

Aafia Siddiqui holds a place in the hearts of people of conscience internationally irrespective of their faith, nationality or location. There is already immense international outrage about her case. Aafia Siddiqui has repeatedly maintained in court appearances that she was tortured while in U.S. custody.

This U.S.-educated doctor of neuroscience has come to symbolize the many hundreds of Pakistanis who have been secretly disappeared, detained and tortured, as well as the national outrage at the continuing deadly U.S. drone attacks.

The plight of the disappeared and missing in Pakistan is a cause of great national pain. Let us begin with this act of compassion to address this grievous problem.

Dr. Siddiqui’s five years in secret detention in Pakistan and Afghanistan, her grievous injuries, her two years in solitary confinement in the U.S. and her trial in New York City were continuing top news in Pakistan. Civil rights, religious and women’s organizations marched and petitioned, demanding the return of this “daughter of the nation” to Pakistan.

Dr. Siddiqui’s family and supporters have launched an international campaign for her repatriation to Pakistan. Aafia Siddiqui’s elderly mother is seriously ill and has pleaded for her daughter’s return.

Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, Aafia Siddiqui’s older sister, in stressing the urgency of a campaign for Aafia Siddiqui’s repatriation, explained that under U.S. law a foreigner tried by a U.S. court could be repatriated to the country of his or her nationality on the request of their own government before the pronouncement of a sentence. She said there were 19 such precedents in which prisoners after indictment were repatriated to their countries on the request of their respective governments.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent resident. She had only one passport, issued by the Pakistan government.

Dr. Siddiqui was not charged with committing any crime on U.S. soil; therefore she should not have been extradited to the U.S. for trial but either tried in Afghanistan or extradited to Pakistan. Dr. Siddiqui is not charged with terrorism nor is she charged with injuring or harming anyone anywhere. She is a victim of terrible life-threatening injuries.

The Pakistan government through diplomatic channels should insist on Aafia Siddiqui’s repatriation. The U.S. government, based on overwhelming Pakistani sentiment for Aafia Siddiqui’s return, should grant this humanitarian request.

Dr. Siddiqui was convicted despite all physical and forensic evidence that she could not have committed the acts with which she was charged.

The U.S. government should release all the secret documents regarding Aafia Siddiqui’s disappearance that were suppressed at her trial in NYC and the documents on the many other disappeared and missing people in Pakistan. As we have seen in the recent release of documents by Wikileaks, we cannot count on governments to give a true accounting of events that may prove embarrassing to various government officials.

BACKGROUND TO CASE
In March 2003, at the age of 30, Dr. Siddiqui disappeared along with her three children from a street in Karachi, Pakistan. On March 31, 2003, the Pakistan media reported that Dr. Siddiqui had been arrested and turned over to U.S. officials.

Dr. Siddiqui mysteriously reappeared on the streets of Ghazni, Afghanistan, following five years of secret detention. There she was immediately re-arrested, shot and almost killed. After emergency treatment, she was brought to the United States and held in solitary confinement for almost two years before being placed on trial in a federal court in New York City.

The government charges were preposterous. Dr. Siddiqui had supposedly been arrested in July 2008, five years after her disappearance. The U.S. claims that when U.S. military personnel came to interrogate her after the arrest, Siddiqui grabbed a U.S. soldier’s M4 gun, fired off two rounds and was herself shot while being subdued.

Questions of how the bullets, supposedly fired by Siddiqui, failed to hit a single one of the 20 to 30 people in a small, crowded room, or hit any wall or floor, or leave any residue or fingerprints, were never answered. Witness testimonies often contradicted their earlier sworn testimonies and the testimony of others. The prosecution urged the jury to ignore science and irrefutable facts and believe the contradictory testimony of U.S. Special Forces soldiers and FBI agents.

Despite her severe wounds and her pleas for mercy the court imposed daily abusive and painful strip searches. The court through unprecedented security measures sought to close the trial and intimidate all support. Most important is that throughout her trial Aafia Siddiqui refused her lawyers and made it clear that she was not represented by lawyers of her choice.

Dr. Siddiqui’s missing son Ahmed was reunited with his aunt in late 2008 while daughter Maryum was dropped near her aunt’s home in Karachi in April 2010 after she had been missing for seven years. Dr. Siddiqui’s youngest child, Suleman, who would now be about seven years old, remains missing and is feared dead.

There have been massive demonstrations in Pakistan’s major cities demanding the return of this 38-year-old mother, now dubbed the “daughter of Pakistan.”

For more information on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s trial and treatment and the campaign to repatriate her, go to:
www.FreeAafia.org or www.JusticeForAafia.org.

SIGN THE PETITION TO U.S. AND PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.

You can send this message or you can edit and revise it.

COPIES WILL ALSO BE SENT TO MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA IN THE U.S. AND PAKISTAN.

To: President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joseph Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. John Kerry (Chairman, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee), Congressional leaders, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi

cc: Ban Ki-Moon (Secretary-General, United Nations), UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, UN High Commissioner on Refugees, and members of the Pakistani and U.S. media

Dear President Barack Obama, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani :

As the sentencing of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui draws closer at the Federal District Court in Manhattan, I urge you to repatriate Dr. Aafia Siddiqui to her native Pakistan as a matter of urgency. Given all the facts and circumstances of this case, repatriation of Dr. Siddiqui to Pakistan would not only serve the interests of justice, but is also warranted on humanitarian grounds.

This simple act of compassion during the month of Ramadan would be of special significance.

There are numerous credible reports that Dr. Siddiqui was abducted from Pakistan with her three young children in March 2003. Dr. Siddiqui claims that her captors detained her in a series of secret prisons for five years during which time she was abused in a variety of ways and tortured. Her youngest son, Suleman, remains missing to this day.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is a citizen of Pakistan. She was not charged with committing any crime on U.S. soil, nor is she a U.S. citizen. She should not have been extradited to the U.S.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is not charged with terrorism nor has she been charged with injuring or harming anyone anywhere. She is a victim of terrible life threatening injuries.

The plight of the disappeared and missing in Pakistan is a cause of great national pain. Let us begin with this act of compassion to address this grievous problem.

In light of the circumstances of this case, in which it appears that at a minimum, Dr. Siddiqui suffered severe physical and emotional trauma, we call upon you to exercise all lawful authority to allow Dr. Siddiqui to be repatriated to Pakistan on humanitarian grounds.

Sincerely,
(your signature will be appended here)

SIGN THE PETITION AT
http://www.iacenter.org/SiddiquiPetition

International Action Center
55 W 17th St #5C
New York, NY 10010
212-522-6626
www.iacenter.org
iacenter@iacenter.org
.
.

US frame-up of Aafia Siddiqui

US frame-up of Aafia Siddiqui begins to unravel
Pakistani victim of rendition and torture
By Ali Ismail
1 February 2010

Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui went on trial in a federal courtroom in New York City on January 19, charged with the attempted murder of US personnel in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province in 2008. The case against Dr. Siddiqui, 37, is rapidly unraveling due to lack of evidence and discordant testimony from witnesses.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the charges amount to a frame-up that has been staged to cover up the fact that Siddiqui, along with her eldest son, had been held without charges in the US military’s notorious Bagram prison in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008 where they were subjected to torture. Two of Dr. Siddiqui’s younger children are still missing.

According to the account given by US authorities, Aafia Siddiqui was taken into custody by Afghan security services in July of 2008 after they alleged having found a list of US targets for terrorist attacks as well as bomb-making instructions and assorted chemicals.

Despite these claims, Siddiqui is not charged with any terror-related offenses. Instead, she is indicted for allegedly having seized an automatic weapon and fired on her Afghan and American captors when a group of FBI agents and US Army officers arrived to collect her. The most serious charge against her is using a firearm in committing a felony, the gun in question being a US soldier’s rifle.

Siddiqui was shot twice in the stomach and barely survived after medics at Bagram air field had to make an incision from her breastbone to her bellybutton to remove the bullets. It was reported that part of her intestines had to be removed to save her life.

The accusations against Siddiqui strain credulity and have been fervently denied by her relatives, her defense attorneys, and human rights organizations, all of whom claim that she had been held in secret US detention facilities where she was physically and sexually abused ever since she disappeared off the streets of Karachi in the spring of 2003 with her three children, then seven, five, and six months old.

According to the German weekly, Der Spiegel, just a few days before she disappeared, Affia Siddiqui had contacted her former professor, Robert Sekuler, at Brandeis University in search of a job, complaining that there weren’t any job opportunities in Pakistan for a woman of her educational background.

Dr. Siddiqui is a Pakistani national who was educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University. In July of 2001, she and her husband at the time were scrutinized by the FBI for their alleged association with Islamic charities. Following the events of September 11, 2001 the couple returned to Pakistan at a time when hundreds of Pakistanis and other Muslims were rounded up for questioning across the US. The family resided in Karachi where Aafia Siddiqui was employed at Aga Khan University.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Aafia Siddiqui and her children were kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence agents on their way to the airport in Karachi. Their whereabouts remained unknown until Aafia Siddiqui and her eldest son, Ahmed, were reported detained in Afghanistan in July of 2008, several years after their disappearance. While the Pakistani Interior Ministry had initially confirmed that the abduction had taken place, it later claimed to have been mistaken and stated that Siddiqui was not in Pakistani custody. This about-face was an attempt to conceal the complicity of Pakistani intelligence services in the US government’s rendition of Siddiqui to Afghanistan and her subsequent ordeal.

Aafia Siddiqui’s sister, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, had informed the press that she and her mother had journeyed to the US in 2003 to meet with FBI officials, who had claimed that Aafia Siddiqui would soon be released. In Pakistan, Siddiqui’s family was repeatedly harassed and received numerous death threats from sinister forces within the Pakistani ruling elite. The family was ordered not to make any public appeals in support of Aafia and her three children.

Between 2003 and 2008, when Siddiqui’s whereabouts were still unknown, the US claimed that she was working on behalf of Al Qaeda. In May of 2004, she was listed by US officials as one of the seven “most wanted” Al Qaeda fugitives. The US has also spuriously claimed that she is married to Ammar al-Baluchi, who is reported to be the nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the so-called “mastermind” behind the 9/11 attacks. The claim that Siddiqui was married to al-Baluchi was based solely on coerced statements made by Mohammed, who has been repeatedly tortured.

The US military and the FBI have consistently denied that Siddiqui had been in US custody prior to her arrest in 2008. In reality, Aafia Siddiqui spent the years between 2003 and 2008 at the detention facility at Bagram air base, where many referred to her as the “Grey Lady of Bagram.”

Around the same time as her staged arrest, the British journalist, Yvonne Ridley, had been bringing attention to an unknown female detainee in Bagram prison who was known as Prisoner No. 650. In his book, “Enemy Combatant,” Moazzam Begg recalled hearing the woman’s piercing screams as she was being tortured while he was imprisoned in the same facility. According to Ridley, in 2005 male prisoners at the facility were so disturbed by her screams and sobs that they staged a hunger strike that lasted for six days.

When she was arrested in 2008, her then 11 year-old son Ahmed, a US citizen, was by her side. The traumatized boy has since been repatriated to Pakistan, where he is now living with his aunt, Dr. Fawzia Siddiqui. According to his aunt, Pakistani authorities have forbidden Ahmed from speaking to the news media.

Siddiqui’s appearance has changed markedly since 2002, according to her lawyers. She has suffered a broken nose, is deathly pale, and extremely frail, weighing about 100 pounds. When she arrived in the US, she was suffering from acute trauma, according to her lawyers who were outraged that she did not immediately receive the urgent medical attention. Siddiqui had been suffering from agonizing pain from the wounds she had sustained in Afghanistan and was slumped over in her wheelchair when she arrived in court in August of 2008.

Her trial was delayed as her lawyers argued that she was mentally unfit to participate in her own defense. However, prosecutors eventually found mental health experts to allege that she was faking her condition to escape punishment. Judge Richard Berman ruled that she was mentally fit for trial.

The paucity of media attention given to the trial is noteworthy, particularly given that Siddiqui was listed as a top Al Qaeda suspect. The tabloid press in New York City, where the proceedings have received limited attention, press has taken her guilt for granted, cynically dubbing her “Lady Al Qaeda.” The trial is being closely watched in Pakistan, where Siddiqui’s ordeal has outraged many and has sparked protests around the country.

From its beginning, the trial has been marked by questionable irregularities, and the judge has gone out of his way to accommodate the prosecutors. Not a single Pakistani journalist was granted press credentials for the opening statements last Tuesday. Defense attorneys protested the robust security measures put in place during the trial, which obviously reinforces the notion that Siddiqui poses a security threat to the US.

In a clear violation of her rights, Judge Berman has repeatedly thrown Siddiqui out of the courtroom for what he called her “outbursts”. The “outbursts,” were Siddiqui’s anguished claims of innocence and protests that she was tortured.

“Since I’ll never get a chance to speak,” she had told the court. “If you were in a secret prison, or your children were tortured…Give me a little credit, this is not a list of targets of New York. I was never planning to bomb it. You’re lying.”

The trial has also been marked by contradictory testimony from prosecution witnesses, which has undermined the case against Siddiqui.

On the third day of the trial, Assistant US Attorney Jenna Dabbs displayed several photographs of the room where the prosecution claims the shooting occurred. However, Carlo Rosatti, an FBI firearms expert who investigated the case, acknowledged last Friday that he had found “no shell casings, no bullets, no bullet fragments, no evidence the gun [the soldier’s M-4 rifle] was fired.” The only shell casing from the scene was from a 9-milllimeter pistol with which Siddiqui was shot. On the fourth day of the trial, another FBI agent testified that the FBI never found Aafia Siddiqui’s fingerprints on the M-4 rifle.

The warrant officer who shot Siddiqui also took the stand, recounting the version of events laid out by the prosecution. He claimed that on the day he and his colleagues went to collect Siddiqui, she suddenly got a hold of his rifle and aimed it at US personnel, at which point he opened fire with his 9-millimeter pistol.

When Siddiqui yelled out, “I never shot it,” she was tossed out of the courtroom for the remainder of the day.

The unnamed warrant officer, who had hobbled to the stand using a cane, was also permitted to recount how he was wounded in a recent and totally unrelated roadside bombing in Afghanistan, shedding tears as he did so. While having absolutely no relevance to the trial, the soldier’s wounds were invoked as part of a brazen attempt by prosecutors to sway the jury. Judge Berman’s allowing the testimony demonstrates the rigged character of the trial.

Sensing that Siddiqui was indeed emotionally unstable, prosecutors moved to force her to testify in the hopes that she would incriminate herself. Defense attorneys argued that she wasn’t mentally fit to take the stand. Once again, Judge Berman sided with the prosecution.

Berman warned Aafia Siddiqui that she is not permitted to speak about events prior to her arrest in July of 2008. Nevertheless, on Thursday Siddiqui repeatedly told the jury that she was held in secret prisons by US authorities, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan. She told the jury how she was shot just after she peeked through a curtain in search of an escape route. She added that it would be ludicrous to believe that a soldier would leave his gun where an allegedly dangerous suspect could get a hold of it.

“It’s too crazy,” she said. “It’s just ridiculous. I didn’t do that.”

When asked by a US Attorney about the contents of her purse which allegedly contained chemicals, bomb-making instructions, and a list of US targets, Siddiqui said, “I can’t testify to that, the bag was not mine, so I didn’t necessarily go through everything.” Siddiqui’s lawyers have claimed the bag and its contents were planted evidence. Her attorney, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, said back in 2008 that Siddiqui had been carrying what amounted to “conveniently incriminating evidence.”

“Of course they found all this stuff on her. It was planted on her. She is the ultimate victim of the American dark side,” another one of her attorneys had told the Associated Press in 2008.

Siddiqui also told the jury that her children were constantly on her mind and that she was disoriented at the time of her arrest in 2008.

On Friday, the prosecution called Gary Woodworth of Braintree Rifle and Pistol Club in Massachusetts to testify. Woodworth claimed that Siddiqui had taken a 12-hour pistol course at some point in the early 1990s. The Associated Press of Pakistan reported that Woodworth was noticeably distressed when the defense team demanded to know how it was possible for him to recall a specific individual from two decades earlier, when he’d had hundreds of students. Woodworth admitted that he had no records or documentation to back up his assertions, insisting that he was good at remembering faces.

Also on Friday, FBI Special Agent Bruce Kamerman testified that Siddiqui grabbed the assault rifle in a fit of rage. However, he appeared to be flustered when one of Siddiqui’s attorneys produced his hand-written notes in which there was no mention of her grabbing the gun.

In spite of the obviously fabricated character of the prosecution’s case, there is no guarantee of an acquittal.

Even if she is found not guilty, the fate of Aafia’s Siddiqui’s other two children, Mariam and Suleman, remains unknown. Siddiqui recounts that, while she was held in solitary confinement for five years, she was endlessly forced to listen to recordings of her screaming, terrified children. Her baby, Suleman, she said, was taken away from her immediately, never to be seen again. She said her daughter Mariam was occasionally shown to her, but only as an obscure figure behind a sheet of opaque glass.

The horrifying case of Aafia Siddiqui and her three children is but one example of the criminal and inhuman practices of US imperialism and its ally, the Pakistani bourgeoisie. Hundreds if not thousands of Pakistanis have been kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence services and handed over to US personnel to be dispatched to Bagram, Guantanamo and other “black site” torture chambers around the globe. While the Pakistani government now claims to be doing everything in its power to bring Siddiqui back to Pakistan, its supposed efforts are little more than damage control.

www.wsws.org

Information provided by IJAZ SYED

Iran: Women human rights defender, Shadi Sadr, beaten and arrested

shadi-sadr

19/07/2009: The Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) international solidarity network is deeply concerned by the violent abduction and detention without charge of human rights lawyer, Ms. Shadi Sadr, by state agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We call on the Iranian authorities to release Shadi Sadr immediately and unconditionally, as she is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for her human rights activities and the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression. We also urge the authorities to ensure that Shadi Sadr and all other detainees are protected from all forms of torture or other ill-treatment.

On Friday 17 July 2009, at around 11:30 a.m., our colleague Shadi Sadr was abducted by a group of officers in civilian clothes while she was walking on Keshavarz Boulevard, Tehran, to a mosque for Friday prayers. According to an eye-witness account, her friends tried to pull her away from her abductors but were unable to do so; Ms. Sadr was “hit badly and dragged so badly that her scarf and manteau (overcoat) was removed from her”. She was then forced into a car and taken away. Her abductors did not show any identity cards, warrants, or a reason for her apprehension. This abduction was a targeted act, unlike other arrests of peaceful women human rights defenders in Iran such as at demonstrations.

Ms. Sadr is a human rights lawyer who especially defends the rights of women in Iran. She is also a Council member of WLUML, as well as part of the Stop Stoning Forever Campaign and Meydaan (http://meydaan.com/english).

Ms. Sadr’s spouse Mr. Hossein Niachian sent word that an hour before her detention, officers had presented themselves at their house, introduced themselves as security forces, then searched their home, taking away some papers, documents, and two computer cases that had belonged to him and their ten-year-old daughter. The inspection took several hours, as they ransacked the house in the presence of the child.

Niachian said that Shadi suffers from a serious glandular and bone illness which leaves her in intense and debilitating pain and for which she requires specific medication. She was booked in for surgery for the condition this week. We are especially concerned for her health and well-being, and that she is receiving access to her prescribed medications.

Security Guards called Ms. Sadr’s family on Sunday 19 July asking them to provide bail. Niachian asked the guards what would be acceptable for bail and they told him to bring ID card and salary documents. However, after waiting outside Evin Prison for five hours, the family returned home without her.

As Iran has committed itself to upholding human rights, evidenced by its candidacy to the Human Rights Council 2006, a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and claims to be dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights, we ask that the Iranian authorities fulfil their obligation and immediately release Ms. Sadr who has been detained without any charge, presumably for her non-violent advocacy for the human rights of women. We respectfully ask that her serious health condition be taken into consideration and that she be given access to medical treatment as a matter of urgency.

An eyewitness account of the abduction is available here: meydaan.org

WHAT YOU CAN DO

We call upon the women’s rights community and all human rights activists and organizations to speak out in defense of Shadi Sadr and all those who are being unjustly persecuted in Iran for their non-violent dissent. You can write in Persian, English, or your own language.

Please write to local and international media, mobilize your networks, and urge your policy makers and embassies as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay to take action to protect the basic human rights of all those who are being abused and arrested in Iran.

Your letter can:

* call on the authorities to release Shadi Sadr immediately and unconditionally, as she is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for her human rights activities and the peaceful exercise of her rights to freedom of expression;

* stress that Ms. Sadr’s arrest was of a targeted and violent nature, and that no warrant, reason for arrest, or officer identification were provided at the time;

* urge them to disclose her whereabouts immediately, and ensure that she is allowed immediate access to her family, lawyer of her choice and any medical treatment she may require, especially as she has a reported pre-existing medical condition;

* urge the authorities to ensure that Shadi Sadr and all other detainees are protected from all forms of torture or other ill-treatment;

* call on the authorities to remove unlawful restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly in Iran.

The Honorable Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary General
760 United Nations Plaza
United Nations
New York, NY 10017
Web contact: www.un.org/en/contactus/contactform.asp

Ms. Navanethem Pillay
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Email: infodesk@ohchr.org
Tel: +41-22-917-90-00
Fax: +41-22-917-9008 or +1-212-963-4097

Ms. Margaret Sekaggya
Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org. The text of the e-mail should refer to the human rights defenders mandate.
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (Geneva, Switzerland)
Telephone: +41 22 917 1234. This is the number for the United Nations telephone operator in Geneva, Switzerland . Callers should ask to speak with staff at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights dealing with the special procedures of the Human Rights, and specifically with staff supporting the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. Please see here for further details about filing complaints to the Special Rapporteur: www2.ohchr.org

Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
c/o. Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211, Geneva 10
Switzerland
fax: +41-22-917-90-06
See model questionnaire here: www.unhchr.ch

The Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland
Fax: 00 41 22 917 9006
E-mail: urgent-action@ohchr.org

Leader of the Islamic Republic
Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street – End of Shahid Keshvar Doust Street, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: via website: www.leader.ir (English), www.leader.ir (Persian)
Salutation: Your Excellency

Head of the Judiciary
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Howzeh Riyasat-e Qoveh Qazaiyeh (Office of the Head of the Judiciary)
Pasteur St., Vali Asr Ave., south of Serah-e Jomhouri, Tehran 1316814737, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: shahroudi@dadgostary-tehran.ir This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (In the subject line write: FAO Ayatollah Shahroudi)
Salutation: Your Excellency

And copies to:

Iranian Bar Association
No. 3, Zagros St.,
Argentina Sq.,
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: +98 21 8771340
or +98 21 888 6425/ 26
Email: tamas@iranbar.org
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or mail@iranbar.org

And the Iranian embassy in your country (NB: recommend telephoning and faxing before letter-writing)

B.C. journalist reveals details of abduction in hostage video

There were renewed calls Monday for the release of B.C. freelance journalist Khadija Abdul Qahaar, kidnapped in Pakistan three months ago, with Canadian government officials saying they are pursuing all avenues to secure her freedom.

Qahaar, 52, of West Vancouver was abducted in November while filming a documentary on the Taliban in the northwest Bannu district.

A convert to Islam, Qahaar, who changed her name from Beverly Giesbrecht, publishes her own online magazine called Jihad Unspun.

Her kidnappers have reportedly asked for a ransom of $150,000 and the release of Taliban prisoners in Afghanistan in exchange for her return.

The Canadian Association of Journalists issued a press release Monday urging Prime Minister Stephen Harper to “redouble efforts” to free Qahaar and another Canadian journalist kidnapped in Somalia.

Amanda Lindhout of Red Deer. Alta., was abducted in the East African country in August and is still missing.

Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Lisa Monette told CBC News Monday the department is continuing its efforts to secure Qahaar’s release, but she would not provide any further details, citing security concerns.

CBC News has obtained a video of Qahaar in which she is seen pleading for help in getting released.

In the five-minute video, Qahaar says she is cold and afraid.

“I have been in captivity now for almost three months,” she says. “I wake up in the dark, and I go to sleep in the dark. There is nothing for the wood furnace and not enough wood.”

In the video, Qahaar is flanked by what appear to be two Taliban fighters cradling Kalashnokovs. She is sitting outdoors on a folding chair wearing a padded camouflage jacket and a blue headscarf.

Just before she disappeared, Qahaar posted an appeal to Muslims on Jihad Unspun asking them to contribute money so she could finish her documentary. The documentary, she said, was going to counteract what she described as “biased coverage” in the Western media of the war in Afghanistan.

In the video, Qahaar says she had completed taping of the documentary but returned to Pakistan a second time to shoot a feature on an old man she met who had a valuable collection of ancient Islamic coins.

“So, I wanted to help him,” she said in the video. “I made arrangements to come back again for me to take pictures of it and take it to Sotheby’s [auction house] in London.”

On her way to or from the interview with the coin collector, Qahaar’s car was stopped by armed men who abducted her.

“I am not sure exactly [about] my location. I am [in] some place in the Afghan border area. There are air raids … This is a war zone,” she says in the video.

A Pakistani newspaper has reported that Qahaar is being held near Miran Shah, a city in North Waziristan, a mountainous region in Pakistan’s northwest bordering Afghanistan. For the past year, the U.S. has been launching cross-border missile attacks at suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters hiding there.

www.cbc.ca