Demand repatriation for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui
Published Aug 13, 2010 10:32 AM
An international campaign has been launched demanding the repatriation of Dr.
Aafia Siddiqui to her homeland of Pakistan. Siddiqui is being held in a federal
prison in New York City awaiting sentencing, which is currently scheduled for
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui
In March 2003, at the age of 30, Siddiqui disappeared along with her three
children from a street in Karachi, Pakistan. At the end of that month, the
Pakistan media reported that Siddiqui had been arrested and turned over to U.S.
Siddiqui mysteriously reappeared on the streets of Ghazni, Afghanistan,
following five years of secret detention. There she was immediately rearrested,
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 before a federal court in New York City.
The government charges were preposterous. Siddiqui had supposedly been first
arrested not in 2003 but in July 2008, five years after her disappearance. U.S.
authorities claim that when their military personnel went to interrogate her
after the arrest, Siddiqui grabbed a U.S. soldier’s M-4 assault rifle,
fired off two rounds and was 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 the 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 statements and the
testimonies 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. In the current intense climate of fear over
“national security,” the jury found her guilty of assaulting and
attempting to murder her U.S. interrogators.
Siddiqui’s missing son, Ahmed, was reunited with his aunt in late 2008,
while her daughter, Maryum, was dropped near the aunt’s home in Karachi
in April, after she had been missing for seven years. Siddiqui’s youngest
child, Suleman, who would now be about 7 years old, remains missing and is
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.” There is already immense international outrage about her
case. Siddiqui has repeatedly maintained in court appearances that she was
tortured while in U.S. custody.
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 have been top news in Pakistan. Civil rights,
religious and women’s organizations have marched and petitioned,
demanding the U.S. allow her to return to Pakistan.
Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, her younger sister, in stressing the urgency of a campaign
for Aafia Siddiqui’s repatriation, explains that under U.S. law a
foreigner tried by a U.S. court can be repatriated to the country of his or her
nationality on the request of that government before the pronouncement of a
sentence. She says there are 19 such precedents in which prisoners, after
indictment, were repatriated to their countries at the request of their
Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is neither a U.S. citizen nor a permanent resident. She had
only one passport, issued by the Pakistani government.
Siddiqui has not been 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. She was not charged with terrorism nor
with injuring or harming anyone anywhere. She is a victim of terrible,
The Pakistani government should insist through diplomatic channels on
Siddiqui’s repatriation. Based on overwhelming Pakistani sentiment for
Siddiqui’s return, the U.S. government should grant this humanitarian
Petitions demanding Siddiqui’s repatriation, directed to President Barack
Obama and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, as well as the media, will be
delivered on Aug. 14 — Pakistan Independence Day — to the Pakistan
Mission to the United Nations. To sign the petition, visit iacenter.org.
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