On Saturday, outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, I will be speaking at an event marking the ninth anniversary of the disappearance in Pakistan of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who vanished for five years and five months, and then mysteriously reappeared in Afghanistan in August 2008, where she was arrested, and then allegedly tried to shoot at the US soldiers who were holding her.
She was subsequently flown to New York, where, in September 2010, after a trial at which she did not appear to be well, although her mental health was not considered to be an issue worthy of scrutiny, she was sentenced to 86 years in prison, which she is serving in a notorious psychiatric prison, FMC Carswell, in Texas. Please click on the image to enlarge the poster.
The rally outside the US Embassy, organized by the Justice for Aafia Coalition, takes place from 3 pm to 6 pm, and the speakers, and the timing of speeches, are as follows:
1510: Sultan Sabri (Croydon Muslim Association)
1520: Raza Karim
1530: Andy Worthington (journalist, author of The Guantánamo Files)
1540: Asif Hussain
1550: Raza Nadim (MPACUK – Muslim Public Affairs Committee)
1600: Sheikh Suliman Ghani (Imam, Tooting Islamic Centre)
1610: Anas Altikriti (Cordoba Foundation)
1620: Ken O’Keefe (anti-war activist)
1630: Statement of Support from the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
1635: Joy Hurcombe (Save Shaker Aamer Campaign) reads out Statement of Support from Walter Wolfgang
1645: Omar Deghayes (former Guantánamo prisoner)
1655: Adnan Rashid (Hittin Institute)
1705: Sultana Parvin
1715: Uthman Lateef (Hittin Institute)
I hope to see some of you down there, as the case of Aafia Siddiqui, which I have been following for many years, remains deeply troubling. My previous articles can be found here, and below is a re-cap of her story, drawn largely from an account of the website of the Justice for Aafia Coalition.
Please also note that other events scheduled for Saturday include a rally in New York at 12 noon, and a rally in Toronto (sisters only) at 6 pm. On Friday (March 30), there is also a rally in Sandton, South Africa at 2 pm, and another in Fort Worth, Texas at 3.30 pm.
The story of Aafia Siddiqui
Nine years ago, on March 30, 2003, Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani citizen, and a cognitive neuroscientist, disappeared in Karachi along with her three children, the youngest of whom, Suleman, was just a baby. For the next five years their whereabouts were unknown, and have never been publicly acknowledged by either the Pakistani or the US government, even though it seems clear that she was held in secret detention, where she was severely abused. Former Bagram prisoners have stated that a female prisoner was held in the prison, identified by the number "650," and have said that they heard her horrific screams.
Following demands for her recovery by human rights organisations and the Pakistani public, Aafia resurfaced in Afghanistan in August 2008, framed with the attempted murder of US personnel. Transferred to the US, she was convicted in a shocking miscarriage of justice and was sentenced in September 2010 to 86 years in prison. She is currently held in isolation at FMC Carswell, Texas, a facility notoriously referred to as the "hospital of horrors." She is denied any meaningful contact with her family and is unlikely to see her children again.
Whilst the two elder children were released in 2008 and 2010 respectively, the whereabouts of her youngest child, Suleman — only six months old at the time of the abduction — remain unknown, although it is believed that he may have been killed art the time of her initial capture. Most recently, disturbing reports have emerged that her health is deteriorating and there are serious concerns that she may have cancer.
To request Aafia Siddiqui’s repatriation to Pakistan, please contact the following officials in the US and Pakistani governments:
Eric Holder: Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001, Tel: +1 202 353 1555, Email: AskDoJ@usdoj.gov
Hilary Clinton: Secretary of State, U.S. Department of State, 2201 C Street, N.W. Washington DC 20520, Tel: +1 202 647 4000, Fax: +1 202 261 8577, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari: President of Pakistan, President’s Secretariat, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Tel 92 51 920 4801/921 4171, Fax 92 51 920 7458, Email: email@example.com
Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani: Prime Minister of Pakistan, Prime Minister House, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Fax: + 92 51 922 1596, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Rehman Malik: Minister of Interior, Room No. 404, 4th Floor, R Block, Pak Secretariat, Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Tel: +92 51 921 2026, Fax: +92 51 920 2624, E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi: Foreign Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Islamabad, Pakistan, Tel: +92 51 921 0335, Fax: +92 51 920 7600, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also write to Aafia:
Aafia Siddiqui # 90279-054
Federal Medical Center
P.O. Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127
And to send a message of support to her family, email: email@example.com
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, "The Complete Guantánamo Files," a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo" (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new "Close Guantánamo campaign," and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.