Monday, August 04, 2008

Where Are Dr. Aafia Siddiqui And Her Children?

I received a comment on another post this morning about another horrendous story (why am I not surprised?). Apparently, on March 30, 2003, on her way to the airport in Pakistan, a 30-year-old Pakistani neurological scientist by the name of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui disappeared with her three children, ages four and under. A few days later, NBC reported that Dr. Siddiqui, who had been living with her husband and children in the U.S. for several years, had been arrested for suspicion of facilitating money transfers for terrorist organizations.

An Asian Human Rights Commission Appeal outlines the case and reports:

"Whilst Dr. Aafia's whereabouts remain unknown, there are reports of a woman called 'Prisoner 650'...being detained in Afghanistan's Bagram prison...[who] has been tortured to the point where she has lost her mind. Britain's Lord Nazeer Ahmed, (of the House of Lords), asked questions in the House about the condition of Prisoner 650 who, according to him is physically tortured and continuously raped by the officers at [the] prison. Lord Nazeer has also submitted that Prisoner 650 has no separate toilet facilities and has to attend to her bathing and movements in full view of the other prisoners.

"...[O]n July 6, 2008, a British journalist, Yvonne Ridley, called for help for a Pakistani woman she believes has been held in isolation by the Americans in their Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan for over four years. 'I call her the grey lady because she is almost a ghost, a spectre whose cries and screams continues to haunt those who heard her,' Ms Ridley said at a press conference.

Now, the FBI has admitted that Dr. Siddiqui was "taken into custody" by U.S. "Forces" and taken to a prison in Afghanistan where she has been "held" for the past five years. Her children, I assume, are being "held" elsewhere. There must be some limits, right?

You may sign a petition asking for the release of Dr. Siddiqui and her three children here.

How many men and women of how many nations and cultures do you suppose are being similarly "held" and brutalized around the world? One study found that 40% of the U.S. population believes that torture is appropriate under certain circumstances. What would those circumstances be, one would wonder? Who decides that the criteria for "appropriateness" have been met? What part does human law or human decency play in this process? How would that 40% feel if their loved one were being similarly "held" by an enemy? Would they still deem torture "appropriate" then?
Update: According to The Christian Science Monitor, Dr. Aafia Saddiqui magically appeared in Afghanistan on July 17th, when she was shot in the abdomen by U.S. agents during the process of her arrest on the way to carry out some suicide bombing mission. If you believe this one, I have a bridge you might want to buy.

This is, in my opinion, wonderful news since it means that Prisoner 650 is, if still incarcerated and further wounded, at least living, in the United States, and being represented by a team of lawyers, one of which is Elizabeth Fink, who successfully won the release of Black Panther leader Dhoruba bin Wahad after eighteen years of incarceration for a crime he did not commit.


Unknown said...

sad news.

changeseeker said...

Indeed. I pray for her and her family daily. When I asked God to comfort her somehow, the thought I had was that madness, in this kind of situation, would be a form of comfort -- being removed in a way from the horror of it all.

homi said...

its very sad news .....completely injustice......but unfortunetly no-one is protesting is listning sreams and cries of Dr-afia.......specially our PAKISTANI gv. is doing nothing .....

changeseeker said...

Homi: It is indeed interesting that the Pakistani government has chosen to act as if none of this has happened. At least now she's no longer being hidden. I wonder where her children are...