Pakistan must ensure justice to Dr. Aafia; probe her children’s disappearance: HRCP

Press Release, August 12

 

Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan urges the government of Pakistan to fulfil its duty of ensuring that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui receives full justice, necessary facilities and immediate medical attention. HRCP demands an official investigation into Dr. Siddiqui’s, and her children’s, disappearance and details of their detention – from the point of being picked up in 2003 till the present. HRCP also emphasises that Dr. Siddiqui should not be repatriated to Pakistan against her wishes and be given the full opportunity to contest her case in the US. The fear is that once she has been repatriated to Pakistan she will be pressurised by the intelligence agencies to maintain silence and she will not be able to secure justice. Though it may be a relief that she has been traced there is no information about Dr. Siddiqui’s children. The government must also disclose the whereabouts of her children.

 

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has been following the case of disappearance of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and her three children since early 2003. The information collected by HRCP at that particular time was that in March 2003 Dr. Siddiqui, along with her three children, left her mother’s house in a taxi on her way to the Karachi airport and was picked up by an intelligence agency. What she was accused of when picked up has not been made public. Strangely, the only charge against her is an alleged assault against her captors while in custody.

 

A statement was issued expressing concern on this most heinous violation of human rights and HRCP demanded an explanation from the government. The parents of Dr. Siddiqui were also contacted, who were under sever threat of the intelligence agencies and warned not to speak either to the press or any human rights organization. At one point office bearers of the HRCP contacted the family of Dr. Siddiqui and arranged to meet but at the last minute they expressed their “inability” to see the office bearers despite the fact that the meeting was arranged at their request. Since then HRCP representatives have been in touch with the family and filed a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court which is still pending. The petition was heard on the 8th of March 2007 and at several subsequent hearings the government expressed their ignorance of the whereabouts of Dr. Siddiqui and her children.

 

HRCP is convinced that Dr. Siddiqui and her three children were picked up from Karachi as is evident from the initial reports and urges the government to now play a positive role in insuring that she gets full justice, fair trial as well as compensation from the government of United States for the mistreatment meted out to her. HRCP appreciates that the Pakistan mission has sought consular access to her yet these belated efforts can only be compensated if the Pakistan government is able to intervene in the courts in the US and submit an honest investigation report

 

HRCP will remain in touch with the legal team defending Dr. Siddiqui and will make all efforts to submit its own reports through her lawyers.

 

The violation of the rights of Dr. Siddiqui and her children, and countless other missing persons, is squarely the responsibility of the government of Pakistan. There is enough evidence indicating that she was initially picked up by the intelligence agencies in Pakistan and therefore it is not only the government of the United States but also the government of Pakistan that must be made accountable for this crime.

 

HRCP fears that the fate of Dr. Siddiqui will be the same as hundreds of others who have disappeared, been tortured and rendered to third countries without following the legal process. Regrettably petitions of hundreds of people in almost similar circumstances are pending in the courts of Pakistan and not in one single case has full justice been delivered. No one has received compensation neither have the perpetrators been brought to justice.

 

Asma Jahangir
Chairperson

Dr. Afia – recent posts and HRCP action

Current information on Dr. Afia Siddiqui

 

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HRCP Press Conference with Dr. Afia’s Sister Dr Fauzia Siddiqui

Dawn ( Aug 2008 ) Aafia’s sister rejects US charges

Daily Times ( Aug 2008 ) Dr Aafia was detained, tortured for 5 years: sister

Dawn Opinion ( Nov 2006 ) Where have they vanished?

 

Cross Postings

Teeth Maestro

( Aug 2008 )

-  Dr. Afia – Tortured & Terrorised for five years, but on trial for Assaulting an Officer

 

FBI admits to kidnapping Dr. Afia Siddiqui, to Afghanistan

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BBC

( Aug 2008 )

-‘Al-Qaeda’ woman appears in court

- Mystery of Siddiqui disappearance

[FBI Wanted Report, hunting for Dr. Afia]

HRCP urges justice for Dr. Afia and others

Press release, 5 August 2008

 

Lahore: With the US finally admitting custody of Dr. Afia Siddiqi, one of the most brutal cases of suppression of individual freedom has become to unravel, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement on Tuesday.

 

The commission said: Public pressure has at last compelled the United States to admit that Dr. Afia is in their custody.

 

While the Pakistani government has belatedly begun to admit that it had some responsibility towards Dr. Afia, it has a lot of explaining to do as to who had been detaining her and where since she was picked up from Karachi in 2003 along with her three children.

 

To say that she had been taken into custody only on July 21, 2008 is a blatant lie, as transparently ugly as any falsehood can be. The insinuation, that she had been hiding herself since 2003, is a travesty of truth, an affront to people’s commonsense.

 

Dr. Afia’s case is a reminder of the grave injustice done to God knows how many Pakistanis in US detention facilities in Bagram in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and elsewhere, who have been listed as missing.

 

While reminding the government of Pakistan of its duty to trace all people who are reported to be involuntarily disappeared, HRCP calls upon all civil society elements and human rights organizations to make a concerted effort for the release of all missing persons and to ensure that Dr. Afia gets justice, that has long been denied to her and that in a manner no civilized people can condone.

 

Iqbal Haider

Co-chairperson