KARACHI: Journalist Yvonne Ridley has revealed that the US government would be happy if Dr Aafia Siddiqui serves her remaining jail term in Pakistan.
She was addressing a press conference in London. Lord Nazir Ahmed and Barrister Naseem Ahmed Bajwa were also present. She said her sources have confirmed that the hurdle in Dr Aafia’s repatriation is the Pakistani establishment and not US, as Dr Aafia is no longer a high-value asset for the US.
Ridley also talked about the launch of her new book on torture, and the many witnesses and victims she interviewed. One of the most thought-provoking testimonies on the use of torture comes from ex-Guantanamo detainee Feroz Abassi, 28, who wrote, “Torture is simply the torturer and the tortured. It is a relationship between two people. In my own experience, as we were being transported from one camp to another we were beaten without cause. Why? Some people like to dominate others physically. When Dr Aafia Siddiqui, 29, was ‘forcefully stripped by six men and then repeatedly (tortured, manhandled,) it was not because of any justifications, pre- or post-torture, that it had to be done to make her confess so innocent lives can be saved. It was simply six men who, empowered as torturers, had a legal, moral and socially acceptable way to (sexually torture a powerless woman)”.
She also said that it was increasingly clear Aafia was of no value to the US and they would be happy to let her serve her sentence in Pakistan but there were some men in Pakistan who were determined that she should not return, says a release of Aafia Movement Pakistan issued on Monday.
“I know who they are and everyone else does but the politicians are powerless and so these men must step aside and allow Aafia to be repatriated and able to serve the remainder of her sentence in her country with her family.” She also pointed out that Dr Ghairat Baheer, the son-in-law of Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, had told her how he was put in a cell in Bagram air base next to Aafia and how ex-Guantanamo detainee Binyam Muhammad had also told her he had seen Aafia in Bagram. There were so many eyewitness accounts which are unraveling the American lies about her detention there. She also suggested the Pakistani government could exchange Aafia for Dr Shakeel Afridi since the US was so keen to have him.
Lord Nazir said he would be sending written questions based on this latest evidence of horrifying torture (“gang rape”) on Aafia. “Enough witnesses have testified to Aafia’s presence and inexcusable torture in Bagram that the US earlier denial and now deafening silence is baseless, and thus the trial in the US was technically a mistrial and Dr Aafia, a political prisoner, was suffering at the hands of a super power.”
Barrister Naseem said an illegal act is illegal, regardless of who commits it.