US protesters demand launch and repatriation of Aafia Siddiqui

Boston, United States – Dozens of protesters and human rights activists are calling on the Pakistani authorities to work to finish the continued imprisonment of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui within the United States.

Carrying photos and banners, the protesters gathered exterior the Pakistan Consulate in New York on Wednesday to decry Siddiqui’s state of affairs and urge the Pakistani authorities to actively search her instant launch and repatriate her.

“Free, Free Aafia,” the protesters shouted in unison.

The rally was a part of a sequence of protests organised by a coalition of greater than 20 native and nationwide human rights and non secular teams, together with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Similar protests have been deliberate in Boston and Washington, DC, within the coming weeks.

Who is Aafia Siddiqui?

Siddiqui, a US-educated-Pakistani nationwide, was charged with making an attempt to kill US troopers and FBI brokers throughout interrogation after her arrest in 2008 in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province.

She was flown to the US and sentenced to 86 years in jail after a New York courtroom discovered the 49-year-old mom of three responsible of tried homicide and assault in 2010.

Siddiqui earned her undergraduate diploma from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1995 and a doctorate in neurosciences from Brandeis University in Boston earlier than shifting again to Pakistan in 2003.

According to her household, Siddiqui and her three kids had been kidnapped by the Pakistani intelligence companies instantly after her return.

In 2008, she appeared in Afghanistan and was detained by the Afghan police, below suspicion of planning a suicide bomb assault and being in possession of notes on tips on how to make chemical weapons and soiled bombs, accusations denied by the household and attorneys.

Currently, she is being held at Federal Medical Centre (FMC) jail in Fort Worth, Texas.

‘Victim of US war on terror’

Mosaab Sadeia, a 21-year-old member of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York and one of many organisers of the New York protest, stated Siddiqui is a sufferer of the US’s so-called “war on terror” and “unjustly” imprisoned.

“She is a prisoner of conscience, a political prisoner and victim of the US war on terror. We are here to tell the Pakistani government to stand up for its citizen and secure her freedom,” Sadeia informed Al Jazeera.

Author and anti-war activist Sarah Flounders has adopted Siddiqui’s case for greater than a decade and believes she is harmless.

“She is a victim of secret rendition. I attended her court trial. It was just a show trial and a theatre of war on terror,” Flounders informed Al Jazeera over the phone.

“The US government should immediately free her and reunite her with her children.”

Activist Sarah Flounders addressing the protesters demanding the discharge of Aafia Siddiqui [Courtesy of Mahtab Khan]

The protesters additionally accused the jail officers of treating Siddiqui inhumanely. In July, she was attacked by a fellow inmate with a mug of scorching liquid and later locked in solitary confinement.

“It resulted in burns around her eyes and could have damaged them permanently. There were visible bruises on her arm,” Siddiqui’s lawyer Marwa Elbially informed Al Jazeera.

Kristie A Breshears, spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons, confirmed to Al Jazeera that they’re conscious of the incident however declined to offer extra particulars.

“We are aware of the reported incident, which is the subject of pending litigation. For privacy, safety, and security reasons, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) does not discuss information on any individual inmate’s conditions of confinement nor do we comment on pending litigation or matters subject to legal proceedings,” Breshears wrote in an emailed response to Al Jazeera.

‘Daughter of the Nation’

In Pakistan, Siddiqui’s case has attracted monumental assist from throughout the political divide.

In 2018, the Pakistani Senate unanimously handed a decision dubbing her “Daughter of the Nation”. On a number of events, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has prolonged his assist for negotiating Siddiqui’s launch with the US authorities.

In July 2019, after assembly with the then US President Donald Trump, Khan informed the media that releasing Shakeel Afridi in change for Siddiqui may very well be a risk sooner or later.

Afridi is a Pakistani surgeon allegedly recruited by the CIA to trace and hint Osama bin Laden, ultimately resulting in bin Laden’s killing.

In 2012, Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in jail below a colonial-era treason legislation by a Pakistani courtroom. His attraction remains to be pending earlier than a excessive courtroom in Peshawar.

Maliha Shahid, spokesperson for the Pakistani embassy in Washington, stated Siddiqui’s case remains to be a precedence for the federal government.

“Her detention and conditions of incarceration remain a subject of discussion between the governments of Pakistan and the US. Our consul general in Houston pays regular visits to Dr Aafia to ensure her wellbeing,” Shahid informed Al Jazeera.

Protesters in US maintain placards looking for launch and repatriation of Aafia Siddiqui [Courtesy of Mahtab Khan]

Growing assist for launch in US

Over the previous few months, calls within the US for launch and repatriation of Siddiqui have develop into extra intense.

Last month, the Boston chapter of United Steelworkers, a labour union, handed a decision calling on the US authorities to free Siddiqui and permit the go to of unbiased medical practitioners from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to judge her psychological and bodily accidents.

“This is one of the most egregious and outrageous cases that shows the US government’s violation of human rights and international law. We can’t go anywhere on the globe and kidnap anyone,” Stevan Kirschbaum, the vice chairman of the union, informed Al Jazeera.

“Our resolution aims to highlight and bring the case of injustice done to Aafia Siddiqui to living rooms across the US,” he added.

Imam Omar Suleiman, a distinguished American Muslim scholar and civil rights chief protested in entrance of the FMC jail final month to convey consideration to Siddiqui’s incarceration.

“She is a woman who has been abducted, tortured, and wrongfully imprisoned. Nothing about her prosecution makes sense, and there is no legal basis for her being held in the United States,” Suleiman informed Al Jazeera.

“She deserves to be freed and returned home to live quietly in dignity with her family rather than in a dungeon in Texas.”