Forwarded Alert: USA - Urgent Appeal: Aafia Siddiqui - Victim of Secret Detention

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Campaign for Afia Siddiqui - victim of US programme of secret detention since having been kidnapped by Pakistan security services in 2003


28/08/2008

Cageprisoners


Dr Aafia Siddiqui, the American educated Pakistani scientist and mother of three was detained for years by the US in Bagram. She has been the victim of the US programme of secret detention for five years since having been kidnapped in Karachi by Pakistan security services in 2003 along with her three children.

On Monday 4th August 2008, federal prosecutors in the US confirmed that Aafia Siddiqui was extradited to the US from Afghanistan where they allege she had been detained since mid-July 2008. The US administration claims that she was arrested by Afghani forces outside Ghazni governor's compound with manuals on explosives and 'dangerous substances in sealed jars' on her person. They further allege that whilst in custody she shot at US officers and was injured in the process.

According to her lawyer, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, “We do know she was at Bagram for a long time. It was a long time. According to my client she was there for years and she was held in American custody; her treatment was horrendous.”

Aafia's claim is contrary to the heavily contested position of the US administration that she was detained in July by Afghan forces while attempting to bomb the compound of the governor of Ghazni. The US has previously denied the presence of female detainees in Bagram and that Aafia was ever held there, bar for medical treatment in July 2008.

Aafia Siddiqui now faces trial in the US in circumstances that can only be described as strange at best. Questions remain as to her own whereabouts over the last five years and still that of her children; the US government have recently acknowledged that her eldest son Ahmed, an 11 year old US national, is in Afghan custody. The whereabouts of her youngest two children remain unknown.

Aafia's health has deteriorated since her transfer to the US on August 4th. She suffered multiple bullet wounds whilst in custody, loss of part of her intestine, and extensive surgical incisions resulting in multiple layers of external and internal stitching prior to her extradition. There are a number of other healths concerns and subsequently her medical condition condition needs to be fully investigated by several different specialists.

Physical injuries aside, Aafia's psychological injuries obviously leave deeper scars. Her ordeal is heightened by the degrading and humilating strip and cavity searches she is forced to endure before every legal visit.


BACKGROUND

Aafia Siddiqui was born in Karachi, Pakistan on 2nd March 1972. She was one of three children of Mohammed Siddiqui, a doctor trained in England, and Ismet. She is a mother of three.

Having been based in Boston for a part of her life, Aafia and her family became the victims of harassment at the hands of the US authorities in a post 11th September 2001 environment when all foreign Muslims were considered suspected terrorists. During this period in the US, Aafia was the victim of domestic violence at the hands of an abusive husband. Not being able to take the profiling tactics being employed by the US authorities, Aafia's husband moved the family back to Pakistan in 2002.

Soon after their return to Pakistan, the couple became estranged and separated from one another. In December 2002, Aafia decided to take the step of leaving her children with her family in order to work in the US. She moved to the Baltimore area where her sister was working.

In March 2003 while on a short trip back to Pakistan, Aafia Siddiqui was on her way to Karachi airport with her three children in order to catch a flight to Rawalpindi. While at the airport the family were abducted by the Pakistani authorities and taken into custody. Leaked reports to the media claimed that she was in FBI custody soon after that. Very soon after the Pakistani government denied any knowledge or involvement in her disappearance.

After a year the FBI placed Aafia Siddiqui's name on the list of seven Al Qaeda suspects. The FBI claimed that Aafia was in Liberia in 2001 buying conflict diamonds in order to help facilitate Al Qaeda operations. This was immediately picked up by her lawyer Elaine Whitfield Sharp who claimed that Aafia was in Boston the entire week that the FBI claimed she was in Liberia. Also – it was during this period that she suffered much of her domestic violence placing her nowhere near the African continent.

Aafia became one of the War on Terror's disappeared for five years as she was held in secret detention away from any legal access or access to family.

On 7th July 2008, a press conference led by Cageprisoners patron, Yvonne Ridley, and Director, Saghir Hussain, in Pakistan resulted in mass international coverage of Aafia's case as her disappearance was questioned by the media and political figures in Pakistan. It was on 3rd August 2008 that an agent from the FBI visited the home of her brother and told him that she was being detained in Afghanistan.

Cageprisoners believes that Aafia Siddiqui was not arrested in Afghanistan as suggested by the US, but rather was already being detained there after her abduction in 2003. This has been confirmed Aafia herself who states she was held in Afghanistan for years and abused during her period of detention.

For more information about Aafia Siddiqui, please visit: http://www.aafiasiddiqui.org


TAKE ACTION FOR AAFIA SIDDIQUI


1. Write to Aafia:

AAFIA SIDDIQUI 90279-054 36
MDC BROOKLYN
METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER
P.O. BOX 329002
BROOKLYN, NY 11232

Aafia's lawyers advise that when writing you do not discuss or solicit information regarding her case or the charges against her, her whereabouts or those of her children for the past five years. You can send photographs along with your letters but no packages.

You can send books, newspapers and magazines directly from the publishers (such as www.barnesandnoble.com or www.amazon.com). Aafia has requested a daily newspaper and books on nature. If you want to ensure that she has not already received a copy of the item you wish to send then please email Sarah Kunstler at sarah@fkolaw.com

If you would prefer for Cageprisoners to forward messages to Aafia, please email us at contact@cageprisoners.com


2. Send a message of support to Aafia's family.
Please email your letters to contact@cageprisoners.com


3. Sign the Online Petition
http://www.petitiononline.com/aafia/petition.html


4. Download and print copies of the petition here.

Please return all signed petitions to: Cageprisoners, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, United Kingdom, WC1N 3XX


5. Attend protest actions and events for Aafia Siddiqui and her children. Organise an event in your community.

Click here for details of the NYC Protest - 3rd September
Click here for details of the London Protest - 12th September


6. Donate


Aafia can receive money for the purchase of snacks, toiletries, phone calls, etc whilst in prison. Please send funds to Aafia to the following address and in accordance with the directions provided below:

Federal Bureau of Prisons
AAFIA SIDDIQUI
90279-054 36
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

The deposit must be in the form of a money order made out to the inmate's full committed name and complete eight digit register number. Effective December 1, 2007, all non-postal money orders and non-government checks processed through the National Lockbox will be placed on a 15 day hold. The Bureau of Prisons will return funds that do not have valid inmate information to the sender provided the envelope has an adequate return address. Personal cheques and cash cannot be accepted for deposit.

The sender's name and return address must appear on the upper left hand corner of the envelope to ensure that the funds can be returned to the sender in the event that they cannot be posted to the inmate's account. The deposit envelope must not contain any items intended for delivery to the inmate. The Bureau of Prisons shall dispose of all items included with the funds.

In the event funds have been mailed but have not been received in the inmate's account and adequate time has passed for mail service to Des Moines, Iowa, the sender must initiate a tracer with the entity who sold them the money order to resolve any issues.

Western Union Quick Collect Program

You may also send funds through Western Union's Quick Collect Program. All funds sent via Western Union's Quick Collect will be posted to her account within two to four hours, when those funds are sent between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST (seven days per week, including holidays). Funds received after 9:00 pm EST will be posted by 7:00 am EST the following morning. Funds sent to an inmate through the Quick Collect Program may be sent via one of the following ways:

1) At an agent location with cash: The inmate's family or friends must complete a Quick Collect Form. Click here to view a sample Quick Collect Form. To find the nearest agent, they may call 1-800-325-6000 or go to www.westernunion.com.

2) By phone using a credit/debit card: The inmate's family or friends may simply call 1-800-634-3422 and press option 2.

3) ONLINE using a credit/debit card: The inmate's family and friends may go to www.westernunion.com and select "Quick Collect".

For each Western Union Quick Collect transaction, the following information must be provided:

1) Valid Inmate Eight Digit Register Number (9027905436SIDDIQUI entered with no spaces or dashes and immediately followed by Inmate's Last Name)
2) Committed Inmate Full Name entered on optional line (Aafia Siddiqui)
3) Code City: FBOP
4) State code: DC

Please note that the inmate's committed name and eight digit register number must be entered correctly. If the sender does not provide the correct information, the transaction cannot be completed. The Code City is always FBOP and the State Code is always DC.

Each transaction is accepted or rejected at the point of sale. The sender has the sole responsibility of sending the funds to the correct inmate. If an incorrect register number and/or name are used and accepted and posted to that inmate, funds may not be returned.

Any questions or concerns regarding Western Union transfers should be directed to Western Union by the sender (general public). Questions or concerns should not be directed to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

For additional information concerning inmate Commissary account deposit procedures, please see the Bureau of Prisons Trust Fund/Warehouse/Laundry Manual (PS 4500.04) or 28 CFR Parts 506 and 540. For information concerning a specific deposit, please contact Federal Bureau of Prisons' staff at 202-307-2712 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET.

Further information about a fund to enable Aafia's family in Pakistan to visit her and to assist her legal defence will be provided shortly.


7. Write to the US authorities:

Demand that the state department fulfils their consular duties and provide assistance to Ahmed, the son of Aafia Siddiqui, and also locate her other children; all of whom are US citizens.
Demand that Aafia Siddiqui's children, including her eldest son Ahmad who is Afghan custody, must be immediately placed in the custody of her relatives.
Demand that Aafia Siddiqui be given full and complete access to her lawyer without any impediments.
That she be given medical treatment and aid during her detention to not put any further pressure on her injuries and to help her recovery.
That she be transferred from prison to Bellevue Hospital.

That the unnecessary cavity and strip searches should be stopped by her US jailers due to her current medical condition.
Call for human rights laws and standards to be strictly adhered to in cooperation between US security forces and those of other countries, ensuring that torture and ill-treatment, incommunicado detentions and "disappearance" play no part in such cooperation.

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
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: http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_secretary.html

A sample letter is provided below.
Download our Justice for Aafia Siddiqui Postcard to send to the US authorities.


8. Write to the Pakistani authorities:

Demand the immediate repatriation of Aafia Siddiqui back to Pakistani from where she was kidnapped.
Demand that her children be immediately placed in the custody of her relatives.
Demand that the best medical treatment be afforded her.
Demand a full investigation into her disappearance.

His Excellency Ambassador Husain Haqqani
Pakistani Ambassador to the US
3517 International Court NW
Washington DC 20008
Tel: + 1 202 243 6500
Email: info@embassyofpakistanusa.org

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Islamabad
Pakistan
Tel: + 92 51 921 0335
Fax: + 92 51 920 7600
Email: spokesman@yahoo.com

A sample letter is below.
Download our Justice for Aafia Siddiqui Postcard to send to the Pakistan authorities.


9. Download and distribute the following campaign materials to raise awareness for the plight of Aafia Siddiqui and her children.

Justice for Aafia Siddiqui Postcard
Aafia Siddiqui Campaign Leaflet
Justice for Aafia Siddiqui Banner
Justice for Aafia Siddiqui Petition Sheet
Poster 1
Poster 2
Postcard 1 front
Postcard 1 back
Postcard 2 front
Postcard 2 back

To get involved in the campaign for justice for Aafia Siddiqui please email freeaafia@cageprisoners.com


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Template letter to Condoleezza Rice:

Dear Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice,

I write to you in urgency regarding the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national extradited from Afghanistan to the USA in August 2008 and currently in US custody.

Dr Siddiqui was educated in the US and is mother to three young American citizens. Two of her children's whereabouts remain unknown; the eldest (11 years old) is in custody in Afghanistan despite being a US national. At the very least, their status as citizens of your country, and your position of authority, necessitates that you do whatever is within your power to locate her children, and return them to the custody of their family members residing in the US.

Dr Siddiqui is currently in a poor physical state- as a victim of years of domestic abuse, she is certainly no stranger to violence and fear.
She has suffered multiple bullet wounds, which may be infected, lost part of her intestine and endured extensive surgical incisions resulting in multiple layers of external and internal stitching. Dr Siddiqui's medical condition needs to be fully investigated by several different specialists. Physical injuries aside, her psychological injuries obviously leave deeper scars.

Dr. Siddiqui's ill health is exacerbated considerably by the humiliating and degrading strip and cavity searches that she is forced to endure before every visit in prison and trip to court. So degrading is such treatment that she has subsequently refused visits. I ask you, as a human being who considers herself to work for the cause of justice; can the repercussions of such inhuman conduct towards an uncharged, weak-bodied woman be anything other than negative? It is hoped that human decency would secure for Dr Siddiqui the basic medical care and humane treatment that should be afforded to all detainees, much less those who have not been convicted of any crime.

Dr Siddiqui's legal team, who should theoretically be guaranteed complete access to their client (as is necessary to mount a credible defence), still face a number of obstacles in this regard. The aim of any trial is to reach the most objective outcome, and if current restrictions remain the case, then this investigation will neither ensure that integrity is maintained or that any battle of 'hearts and minds' will be won. Furthermore, any involvement and collaboration of US security forces in such illegal activities as torture, incommunicado detentions and “extraordinary rendition” fulfil the interests of no party in the long run.

There is a great weight of responsibility on your shoulders, so consider deeply what has been mentioned, and ponder over what subsequent actions need to be taken for even-handedness to prevail.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Regards,

(Your name)


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Template letter to Pakistani embassy in US/Pakistani governmental departments:

To whom it may concern,

I write to you in urgency regarding the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

Dr Siddiqui was born in Pakistan and educated in the US. She is mother to three young children. Yet despite this, she was kidnapped by authorities from your government and held incommunicado for five years- away from family, friends and legal access. Subsequently, she 'conveniently' re-appeared in Afghanistan, accused (without charge) of committing acts of terrorism, which expediently left the involved governments with no need to explain her whereabouts previous to that point. Furthermore, two of her childrens whereabouts remain unknown, whilst her eleven year-old son, a US national, remains in custody in Afghanistan.

Dr Siddiqui is currently in a poor physical state- as a victim of years of domestic abuse, she is certainly no stranger to violence and fear.
She has suffered multiple bullet wounds, which may be infected, lost part of her intestine and endured extensive surgical incisions resulting in multiple layers of external and internal stitching. Dr Siddiqui's medical condition needs to be fully investigated by several different specialists. Physical injuries aside, her psychological injuries obviously leave deeper scars.

Dr. Siddiqui's ill health is exacerbated considerably by the humiliating and degrading strip and cavity searches that she is forced to endure before every visit in prison and trip to court. So degrading is such treatment that she has subsequently refused visits.

Complicity of Pakistani or other national security forces in such illegal activities as torture, incommunicado detentions and “extraordinary rendition”, as have been evidenced by Dr Siddiqui's case, not only violates International Law, but common human decency.

As a daughter of the nationa, Aafia Siddiqui should be repatriated to Pakistan urgently, in light of her kidnapping from Pakistan in March 2003. Her children should also be placed in the custody of her family immediately until a time that they can be reunited with their mother.

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Regards,

(Your name)