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Aafia Siddiqui's Struggle for Justice
Aafia Siddiqui's Struggle for Justice
by Stephen Lendman
Previous articles discussed her 2003 abduction, detention, torture, false charges, prosecution, and conviction despite clear evidence she's innocent.
Nonetheless, in September 2010, she was wrongly sentenced to 86 years in prison. Imprisoning her for hours, let alone years, constitutes gross injustice. Doing so compounded years of horrific treatment in US custody, including sadistic torture.
On February 10, lawyers appealed her case before the New York-based US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Attorney Dawn Cardi argued that Aafia's treatment left her emotionally incapable of testifying on her own behalf, despite her client's objections.
She was hospitalized at the time under the influence of percocet and other pain medication for her injuries.
Moreover, years of brutal torture left her paranoid schizophrenic from the ordeal. During oral arguments, Cardi challenged alleged evidence presented. It was entirely fraudulent on its face. She also claimed Aafia's statements were involuntarily obtained. As a result, new trial proceedings are warranted.
Notably, imposed terrorism enhancements (TEs) compounded imposed injustice. They're used against defendants convicted of trying to influence or coerce government policy by alleged involvement in or promotion of terrorist acts. As a result, the obscure 1995 measure lets judges dramatically increase sentences unjustly up to 20 years.
Dozens of defendants were wrongfully harmed. Judges go along with malicious prosecutors trying victims like Siddiqui on false charges. They're then aggravated by bogus terrorist accusations.
Even legitimate criminals convicted of minor charges are treated like hardened offenders. Justice is entirely denied, especially after courts ruled judges can apply TEs to defendants not convicted of terrorism charges.
Prosecutors need only convince judges that alleged crimes targeted government policy, and "involved or is intended to promote, a federal crime of terrorism," whether or not any act occurred.
On the basis of this phrase, judges have complete discretion to apply TEs indiscriminately. Siddiqui's one of many victims.
Her fate's in the hands of three appellate judges: Richard Wesley, Susan Carney and Roslynn Mauskopf. Cardi expects their ruling in three or four months after which "there is no other recourse. Unless there is a constitutional issue of significance, you cannot make an appeal to the Supreme Court, but it's too early to say."
The International Justice Network (IJN) on Aafia
Founded in 2006, IJN provides legal help to survivors of human rights abuses and their families. It particularly focuses on "global war on terror" victims like Aafia.
In February 2011, it published a report titled, "Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts," stating.
Overwhelming evidence shows Pakistan abducted her in Karachi while visiting family. At the time, she was interrogated by government Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) operatives and FBI agents.
As a result, Pakistan "should take firm and immediate action to bring this grave injustice to an end, and demand that the US government repatriate" her.
Significantly, America did precisely the same thing to Islamabad. Washington compounded it by threats to sever diplomatic relations for noncompliance. If Pakistan demanded Aafia's repatriation, IJN believes humanitarian grounds alone would free her.
Her physical and emotional health demand it. After horrific treatment for years, they've deteriorated badly. Keeping her imprisoned constitutes cruel and unusual punishment as defined under the Eighth Amendment.
Until then, IJN attorneys said they'll "continue to expose the truth and seek justice for Dr. Siddiqui and the thousands of other prisoners who have been unjustly imprisoned as part of (America's) 'global war on terror.' "
Fowzia Siddiqui's Planned Speech for Aafia
Aafia's sister Fowzia is a Harvard trained neurologist. On February 10, she released the following text from Karachi, saying:
"Today we are gathered here to draw your attention to (America's) grave injustice."
"We are not here to create a disturbance or take the law into our hands. We are not against the people of the United States nor do we intend to denounce them."
"We are not here to play a circular blame game."
"We want to state our words directly without the duplicity of diplomatic language."
Americans are as much victims "of illegitimate and divisive policies in their own country as we are in ours."
Pakistan's "struggling to be a true democracy," including "the right to protest and express our concerns" against injustice. "It occurs when those in power lose their moral compass and take their nations from a path of progress to one of tyranny and decay."
"One case (symbolizes) all that has gone wrong during the War on Terror and the greater 'Clash of Civilizations' that (America, Western partners and Israel) force upon unwitting populations. It is the case of my sister Aafia Siddiqui. She is not hard to find. The new line of Gulags runs straight to Carswell prison in Texas."
Her imprisonment shames "all the great principles (alleged) in the name of democracy and human rights. It was a great, open and visible act of injustice."
Americans need to know about their government's lawless/scandalous treatment of innocent victims like Aafia. Wrongful detention, horrific torture, and show trial injustice define her case. It culminated in wrongly sentencing her to 86 years in prison.
Truths too despicable to hide eventually come out. In the spirit of peace and reconciliation, it's time "to reciprocate and return Aafia and the thousands of others" disappeared in America's gulag hell.
Fowzia "demand(s America) let our people go."
As part of a peaceful march, she planned to speak before America's Karachi consulate. The Pasban Voice Against Injustice participated. An "unknown unit in police uniforms" confronted them and others violently.
Tear gas, water cannons, and batons were used. Fowzia was beaten. She sustained facial injuries, was arrested and detained. Her son was also apprehended and threatened. Pasban's president sustained broken bones. Other marches were also beaten, including women.
Pakistan's complicity with US crimes continues. Justice for Aafia remains denied. Obama ruthlessly sustains it. Fowzia endorses compassion for everyone, "regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or national origin."
She and allies face two rogue regimes denying it. Aafia symbolizes all wrongfully persecuted people.
Freeing her remains elusive. Her liberating struggle continues. Urgent global human rights support is needed.
Injustice denied her and other victims harms everyone potentially vulnerable. We're all political prisoners until they're freed.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen [at] sbcglobal.net.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.