(Originally posted on September 1, 2008 on chowraha)
In a recent development of the case of Dr. Afia Siddiqui, her lawyer has demanded the American government to immediately allow Dr. Afia to be hospitalized in order for her to be treated for her critical health condition.
In a press conference held recently Elizabeth Fink shared that Dr. Afia’s health was deteriorating and the US officials had been approached in this regard. The lawyer further said Dr. Afia was being incarcerated and abused on the name of search by US authorities. This fact was first made public by UK House of Lords Member, Lord Nazir Ahmed who raised the issue in the House. He referred to her as Prisoner 650, as was disclosed by Moazzam Beg in his book when talking about the only female prisoner in Bagram jail (For background, refer to Part I of this series).
Lord Nazir brought to the notice of House of Lords the condition of this prisoner saying that she was physically tortured and repeatedly raped by officers in the Bagram prison. It was further disclosed that Dr. Afia or Prisoner 650 was being forced to share the same toilet facilities as her male counterparts where she would have to attend to her bathing and other needs in full view of the male prisoners.
It seems that this humiliation continues in the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn where Dr. Afia is being held now. Lawyer Elizabeth has shared that the authorities continue to strip search Dr. Afia each time she leaves her detention room to meet with her attorneys, sympathizers, Pakistani diplomats or family and friends.
Thanks to the public pressure applied on the United States and Pakistani officials since the disclosure of Dr. Afia’s case and the joining hands of the human rights activists, well-wishers and concerned citizens around the world, Afia Siddiqui now faces the prospect of a Political Trial. Whereas it is a ray of hope for the detained woman, it is obvious that the America government was not left with many options to protect itself from embarrassment.
It is interesting to point out here that the court where her case is being held and will be listened to in the future too, is not even half a mile away from Ground Zero - the site where the World Trade Center stood previously. The location plays a tremendous role in winning the emotional appeal of the Americans hurt by the 9/11 memories. It will further play a massive role in continuing to display Dr. Afia as a dangerous terrorist. The bail hearing is scheduled to be held right after the American Labor Day weekend, during the time when the Republican Convention will be held and very interestingly just before the September 11th. It will not be surprising if the Republicans use terror as their playing card to win the favors in the upcoming elections. It should, therefore, not be difficult to figure out how the venue and dates have been selected to manipulate the case against the Prisoner.
Earlier it was also revealed that the US officials had admitted to holding the custody of Dr. Afia’s eldest son, Ahmed. The whereabouts of her other children has still not been disclosed. The youngest child is supposed to be 5 years old now. (For further details, please refer to Part II of this series). Perhaps the only reason behind holding innocent young children for 5 years with their mother is because if left free, they could bear witness to the inhumanity subjected to Prisoner 650.
A public campaign has been launched for the release of her children. Dr. Afia’s sympathizers are being asked to send post cards on her address. It has been further arranged via Barnes & Nobles that the general public may buy books, newspapers and magazines for her which the publishers can directly mail on her address. This is being encouraged in order to keep her morale boosted as well as to show the massive support for her justice. Dr. Afia’s team is also encouraging donations for her cause.
In a case which has made much head way and yet questions such as Who exactly was responsible for her disappearance? Why was she detained with no charge at Bagram, where her other children are etc remaining unanswered, it becomes more important for the general public to remain aware of the details of the case. It further makes us responsible for raising our voices, expressing our concerns and keeping the mainstream media on its toes about the case. This is the only check we have to ensure that we do not turn immune to the injustice several such prisoners are being subjected to around the world. It is to keep reminding ourselves that in public lies the real power and hope for the future.