by Yvonne Ridley
Many of us are still in a state of shock over the guilty verdict returned on
Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
The response from the people of Pakistan was predictable and overwhelming
and I salute their spontaneous actions.
From Peshawar to Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and beyond they marched in
their thousands demanding the return of Aafia.
Even some of the US media expressed discomfort over the verdict returned by
the jurors ... there was a general feeling that something was not right.
Everyone had something to say, everyone that is except the usually verbose
US Ambassador Anne Patterson who has spent the last two years briefing
against Dr Aafia and her supporters.
This is the same woman who claimed I was a fantasist when I gave a press
conference with Tehreek e Insaf leader Imran Khan back in July 2008
revealing the plight of a female prisoner in Bagram called the Grey Lady.
She said I was talking nonsense and stated categorically that the prisoner
I referred to as "650" did not exist.
By the end of the month she changed her story and said there had been a
female prisoner but that she was most definitely not Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
By that time Aafia had been gunned down at virtually point blank range in
an Afghan prison cell jammed full of more than a dozen US soldiers, FBI
agents and Afghan police.
Her Excellency briefed the media that the prisoner had wrested an M4 gun
from one soldier and fired off two rounds and had to be subdued. The fact
these bullets failed to hit a single person in the cell and simply
disappeared did not resonate with the diplomat.
In a letter dripping in untruths on August 16 2008 she decried
the"erroneous and irresponsible media reports regarding the arrest of
Ms. Aafia Siddiqui". She went on to say: "Unfortunately, there are some who
have an interest in simply distorting the facts in an effort to manipulate
and inflame public opinion. The truth is never served by sensationalism ..."
When Jamaat Islami invited me on a national tour of Pakistan to address
people about the continued abuse of Dr Aafia and the truth about her
incarceration in Bagram, the US Ambassador continued to issue rebuttals.
She assured us all that Dr Aafia was being treated humanely had been given
consular access as set out in international law ... hmm. Well I have a
challenge for Ms Patterson today. I challenge her to repeat every single
word she said back then and swear it is the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth.
As Dr Aafia Siddiqui's trial got underway, the US Ambassador and some of
her stooges from the intelligence world laid on a lavish party at the US
Embassy in Islamabad for some hand-picked journalists where I've no doubt in
between the dancing, drinks and music they were carefully briefed about the
so-called facts of the case.
Interesting that some of the potentially incriminating pictures taken at
the private party managed to find the Ambassador was probably hoping to
minimize the impact the trial would have on the streets of Pakistan proving
that, for the years she has been holed up and barricaded behind concrete
bunkers and barbed wire, she has learned nothing about this great country of
Pakistan or its people.
One astute Pakistani columnist wrote about her: "The respected lady seems
to have forgotten the words of her own country's 16th president Abraham
Lincoln (1809-1865): "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and
all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people
all of the time".
And the people of Pakistan proved they are nobody's fool and responded to
the guilty verdict in New York in an appropriate way.
When injustice is the law it is the duty of everyone to rise up and
challenge that injustice in any way possible.
The response - so far - has been restrained and measured but it is just the
start. A sentence has yet to be delivered by Judge Richard Berman in May.
Of course there has been a great deal of finger pointing and blame towards
the jury in New York who found Dr Aafia guilty of attempted murder.
Observers asked how they could ignore the science and the irrefutable facts
... there was absolutely no evidence linking Dr Aafia to the gun, no bullets,
no residue from firing it.
But I really don't think we can blame the jurors for the verdict - you see
the jury simply could not handle the truth.Had they taken the logical
route and gone for the science and the hard, cold, clinical facts it would
have meant two things.It would have meant around eight US soldiers took
the oath and lied in court to save their own skins and careers or it would
have meant that Dr Aafia Siddiqui was telling the truth.
And, as I said before, the jury couldn't handle the truth. Because that
would have meant that the defendant really had been kidnapped, abused,
tortured and held in dark, secret prisons by the US before being shot and
put on a rendition flight to New York. It would have meant that her three
children - two of them US citizens - would also have been kidnapped, abused
and tortured by the US.
They say ignorance is bliss and this jury so desperately wanted not to
believe that the US could have had a hand in the kidnapping of a five-month
-old baby boy, a five-year-old girl and her seven-year-old brother.
They couldn't handle the truth ... it is as simple as that.
Well I, and many others across the world like me, can't handle any more
lies. America's reputation is lying in the lowest gutters in Pakistan at the
moment and it can't sink any lower.
The trust has gone, there is only a burning hatred and resentment towards a
superpower which sends unmanned drones into villages to slaughter innocents.
It is fair to say that America's goodwill and credibility is all but washed
up with most honest, decent citizens of Pakistan.
And I think even Her Excellency Anne Patterson recognizes that fact which
is why she is now keeping her mouth shut.
If she has any integrity and any self respect left she should stand before
the Pakistan people and ask for their forgiveness for the drone murders, the
extra judicial killings, the black operations, the kidnapping, torture and
rendition of its citizens, the water-boarding, the bribery, the corruption
and, not least of all, the injustice handed out to Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her
She should then pick up the phone to the US President and tell him to
release Aafia and return Pakistan's most loved, respected and famous
daughter and reunite her with the two children who are still missing.
Then she should re-read her letter of August 16, 2008 and write another ...
one of resignation.
Yvonne Ridley is a patron of Cageprisoners which first brought
the plight of Dr Aafia Siddiqui to the world's attention shortly after her
kidnap in March 2003. The award-winning, investigative journalist also
co-produced the documentary In Search of
Prisoner 650 with film-maker Hassan al Banna Ghani which concluded that
the Grey Lady of Bagram was Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
David Usborne, "Pakistani Scientist in
U.S. Court on Terror Charges," Independent, August 6, 2008
"Reflections on Independence
Day: Justice in America," The Wisdom Fund, July 4, 2009
["Justice was not served," Tina Foster, executive director of the
International Justice Network--Chris Hedges, "The Terror-Industrial Complex,"
truthdig.com, February 8, 2010]
[There is no more complete or compelling evidence of a police state than the
government announcing that it will murder its own citizens if it views them
as a "threat."--Paul Craig Roberts, "It Is Now Official: The US Is a Police State," antiwar.com,
February 10, 2010]
[On September 23 in federal court, US District Court Judge Richard Berman
sentenced political prisoner Aafia Siddiqui to 86 years in prison. Outrage
most accurately expresses this gross miscarriage of justice, compounding
what she's already endured following her March 30, 2003 abduction,
imprisonment, torture, prosecution, and conviction on bogus
charges. . . .
In the presence of two FBI agents, two Army interpreters, and three US Army
officers, this frail 110 pound woman allegedly assaulted three of them,
seized one of their rifles, opened fire at close range, hit no one, yet she
alone was severely wounded.
At trial, no credible evidence was presented.--Stephen Lendman, "Aafia
Siddiqui Sentenced: A Grievous Miscarriage of Justice,"
baltimorechronicle.com, September 23, 2010]
Paul Craig Roberts, "It Is Official: The US Is A Police State,"
antiwar.com, September 25, 2010
[The tape reopens the whole question, not just of Dr Siddiqui, but of the
corroding effect of the US alliance with Pakistan's military and
intelligence elite in a war on terror which has had so many Pakistani
victims. . . .
For the US too there are questions to answer about the extensive cover- up
of what happened to Dr Siddiqui and her three children - two of whom are US
citizens, and appear to have spent five traumatized years separated from
their mother and from each other, in various prisons.--Victoria Brittain,
"A New Turn
as Lawyers Release Explosive, Secretly Recorded Tape ,"
counterpunch.org, February 14, 2011]
[On February 3, 2010, a New York court convicted Aafia. The charge against
her was an ATTEMPT to kill Americans. For that she was sentenced to 86 years
in prison and is being kept in total isolation. The trial was framed by
Judge Richard Berman in a way that there would be no mention of her
kidnapping from Karachi in 2003 or any mention of Aafia and her three
children being held and tortured in secret prisons.
Almost exactly a year later, we are witnessing a drama in Pakistan involving
an American mercenary who killed two Pakistani youths in broad daylight and
his friends who proceeded to kill another Pakistani in an effort to help him
escape to the US consulate.
Those who proclaim the Rule of Law are now using every trick in the book to
avoid that same Rule of Law.--Fowzia Siddiqui, "A Tale of Two Prisoners: Aafia and
Raymond," justiceforaafia.org, February 24, 2011]
[Despite the overwhelming weight of the physical evidence that demonstrated
that Dr. Siddiqui never touched or fired a weapon, she was convicted of all
of the charges.--"Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts," International Justice
Network, February 2011]