Presentation on theme: "Justice for Aafia Coalition (JFAC) Established Feb 2010 by a group of Muslim women activists scattered across the globe Non-profit umbrella organisation."— Presentation transcript:
Justice for Aafia Coalition (JFAC) Established Feb 2010 by a group of Muslim women activists scattered across the globe Non-profit umbrella organisation spanning 5 continents To unite and direct individuals and organisations concerned for Aafia Siddiqui and working for her release Open to all, irrespective of faith or location
Who is Aafia Siddiqui? Born 1972, Pakistan, into a family of doctors. Spent childhood in Zambia. Moved to Texas 1990 Graduate in cognitive neuroscience from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University Memorised the Qur’an in its entirety Active in the University’s Muslim Student Association Married with 3 children – Ahmed, Maryam, Suleman Following FBI harassment of her husband, the family returned to Pakistan. Divorced in October 2002
Disappearance March 2003: Aafia and her 3 children left their Karachi home to catch a flight but never reached the airport people including ‘a white lady’ and members of the ISI were waiting in vehicles across the street. Aafia was placed into one black car and the crying children into another. Hooded and drugged. Aafia was later shown a picture of Suleman, her 6 month old baby, lying in a pool of blood. Believed to have been killed in custody. A week later, Aafia’s mother was threatened by an intelligence official and warned not to make an issue of her disappearance or she’d face dire consequences. Pakistan and US denied any knowledge of Aafia’s custody. In May 2004, FBI alert names Aafia as one of seven Al Qaeda fugitives.
Prisoner 650 The whereabouts of Aafia and her children remained a mystery for the next 5 years Reports of a female Pakistani prisoner, identified by the no. 650, first emerged from former prisoners who had escaped from the notorious US facility at Bagram in 2005 ICRC: confirmed female prisoner held US denied female detainees in Bagram and that Aafia was held there prior to 2008 “Her hands and feet chained together, she is treated in exactly the same way as a man... even in her clothing, the red suit that the brothers wear in Guantanamo... This woman stayed there until she lost her mind, until she became insane, hitting the door and screaming, all day and night... in solitary confinement... for two complete years.”
Binyam’s Testimony 2009: Binyam Mohamed identified her as Prisoner 650 “We were frightened by the guards not to communicate with her because they feared that we would talk to her and we would know who she was. So they told us that she was a spy from Pakistan, working with the government...Nobody talked to her in the facility, and she was held in isolation, she was only brought out to the main facility just to use the toilet. All I knew about her was that she was from Pakistan, and that she had studied, or she had lived in America... she did have children, but the children were not in Bagram - they were somewhere else. We had no idea what happened to the children."
“If you had been tortured in a secret prison” Aafia later described “Living hell” of torture, rape and abuse in secret prisons Forced to make false confessions and sign statements Told if she did not co-operate her children would suffer Brainwashed by men who spoke “perfect English”; captors who sounded like Americans “The power you gave them to torture me, rape me and every time allow them to search me naked. I’m dead. I was dead since the very first time I was raped, searched naked”
Re-Arrest July 2008, Ghazni, Afghanistan: Local police arrest Aafia and her 12 year old son, alleging she was carrying information and chemical substances in her bag for a terrorist attack Afghan police admit beating her on arrrest Aafia claims the bag was given to her and did not know its contents. She said the contents were “copied from a magazine in a secret prison”
Shooting Whilst in custody, Aafia was left untied behind a curtain She attempted to escape as she feared being returned to a secret prison The US allege she snatched a rifle and fired at US personnel Aafia denies picking up the rifle and shooting No evidence of gun residue from the rifle No trace of fingerprints on the rifle No bullet shells found in the room No bullet holes in the wall No one was injured except Aafia who was shot twice, in the abdomen and back Aafia was charged on 31 st July 2009 with assault with a deadly weapon and attempted to kill US personnel.
Bagram Hospital Aafia was transferred to the Craig Join Theater Hospital at Bagram. 3 on a 15 point Glasgow Coma Scale, i.e. almost dead. She was under 24 hour FBI surveillance in hospital and was questioned despite: Recovering from gun shot wounds in hospital Her arms and legs tied to the bed for week Being under various types of medication Being sleep deprived Being at the mercy of the FBI agent for food, water and to use the bathroom The agent did not identify herself in contravention of international law The statements she made under these circumstances would later be used in court despite being denied her Miranda rights Throughout this period she expressed a fear of ‘being tortured’ and constantly asked after her son.
Indicted US ignored the internationally serious crimes in their indictment – i.e. the alleged crime of attempting to attack an Afghani compound - yet she was not tried for committing a war crime in an arena or conflict, for attempting to commit an act of terrorism, or having a child soldier with her Extradited and indicted in the US in Sept 2008 despite the fact that the incident took place in Afghanistan and she was not a US citizen. Why was she sent to the US mainland and not to Gtmo? No foreign detainee prior subject to the same First time a non-US citizen has not been designated an enemy combatant No reference to international terrorism in her indictment despite litany of spurious allegations against her in the five years prior. Detained for the most part in a Manhattan detention centre Subject to degrading strip and cavity searches prior to every legal and family visit for the next 2 years.
Ahmed Siddiqui Released August 2008 US Attorney General confirms Ahmed, Aafia’s son, had been in FBI custody since 2003 and was in the custody of the Karzai government Released to Aafia’s family in Pakistan in Sept 2009 He later stated he had been held in a juvenile prison in Afghanistan for years. On being reunited with his father for the first time, he ran away screaming in horror, claiming that his father was amongst those who used to beat him in Afghanistan.
“A Case Built on Hate Not Fact” Trial commenced Jan 19 th lasted only two weeks Found guilty on 2 counts of attempted murder, armed assault, using and carrying a firearm and three counts of assault on US officers and employees in spite of: Court proceedings being limited to the incident in Ghazni which lacked concrete evidence Conflicting testimonies of 6 government witnesses who contradicted their earlier statements No physical evidence to support the attempted murder/assault The disappearance and secret detention of Aafia and her children were not addressed Not allowed to choose her own legal team Doctors for both the defence and prosecution ruled her unfit to stand trial
May 6th Sentencing: 6 th May Minimum 30 years in prison Maximum life sentence Since her conviction, Aafia remains at the Metropolitan Detention Centre and has been refused all contact with her family, being denied any letters, phone calls, visits or reading material. The whereabouts of Maryam (11) and Suleman (believed to be dead) remain unknown.
How You Can Help Raise awareness by organising events Write to the US and Pakistani authorities Write to the media about Aafia’s case Donate to Aafia’s legal fund Distribute campaign materials Join JFAC as a volunteer Write to Aafia Pray for her Visit