Monday, February 8, 2010

Verdict on Dr. Afia Siddiqui

February 3, 2010

Verdict on Dr Afia Siddiqui
By Saeed Qureshi
Dr. Afia Siddiqui was first picked up by the moles of intelligence in March 2003 in Pakistan against the charge of her association with the Al-Qaida terrorists. She was secretly kept in Afghanistan’s notorious Bagram prison for 5 years without any trial. Finally when a British female journalist disclosed her presence by hearing her screams as prisoner number 650, the concerned American authorities reluctantly moved her to the United States. Here too it took considerable amount of time for her case of abetment of Islamic terrorist to be initiated before the court.

But while the previous charge seems to have been pushed on the back burner, a new charge was framed and brought against her. She was accused of snatching a gun from an American soldier with a view to fire at him. Now when one looks at the hearing the whole case put up by the prosecution is replete with contradictions. It is utterly unimaginable for a delicate, educated women reduced to a skinny skeleton of bones after years of rigorous incarceration to first snatch a gun and then aim at some one. The whole incident took place behind a curtain with no direct witness.
The case otherwise calls for mercy to the defendant on humanitarian grounds. Someone from the American penal and legal system should have a heart and honest courage to point out the clumsy way she is being prosecuted in the American court. A totally mentally and physically broken women whose fault or crime is yet to be established conclusively, has been so much brutalized that one disdains the claims of the upholders of human rights and refinement of human civilization in the present age of enlightenment.

Even if there was scuffle that in normal circumstances can take place, did she deserve 5 years of unwarranted stay in one of the most horrifying prisons of wild land called Afghanistan? Have a heart and look closely at the credentials of the case that even a child can figure out is frivolous and is being blown out of proportion by the quarters who would in any case like her to be declared a convict. The justice stands totally wounded and abandoned by the people who are so powerful to get a convoluted verdict irrespective of the merits of the case.

Dr. Afia, a U. S. citizen and a refined woman did not actually hurt anyone, did not injure any one nor was implicated in any offence that would entitle her to such a long jail term without trial which she has already gone through. By all indications she is a law abiding US citizen with good academic record. What is called Christian mercy was not shown to her and where is the noble concept of benefit of doubt?
She has never been given a chance to give her point of view so that there would have been a clearer picture whether she was wrongly picked upon mere doubt or there was some substance behind that. After all she is an American citizen but perhaps her tag of being a Muslim American is an anathema to her tormenters who in any case wanted to prove them justified. Who is going to restore to her the 7 years of her life that this sophisticated women spent in the stinking and dreadful dungeon of Afghanistan and in U.S. prison.

Her children were not her accomplices if at all she came under suspicion of her abductors. How and why these innocent souls were made to suffer so enormously? Has the conscience of the entire world gone dead? What kind of war on terror is being waged when the pristine concept of justice is audaciously trampled to the extent that the future of the small kids of a suspect female also stands darkened?

The trust of fair trial for those who are rightly or mistakenly apprehended loses its validity when seen the crude and discriminate way all are targeted alike: the hardened and proven criminals and those with scant suspicion or drummed up charges like Dr. Afia.

Since Dr. Afia has already suffered immensely and perhaps unjustifiably she deserves a presidential pardon or reconsideration of the verdict handed out by an ambivalent jury which took two days to reach this otherwise controversial decision. The whole case is shrouded in unclear proceedings and is supported perhaps by doubtful and spurious evidence. For the human conscience, the American spirit of humanism, the constitution of the United States of America, for the sake of a fair legal system and for sanctity of the immortal Bill or Rights, Dr. Afia is eligible to be freed and rejoin her family and children also suffering trauma and agony all these years along with Dr. Afia’s harrowing afflictions and unspeakable tribulations.

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