Aafia most important political prisoner: US lawyers


Lahore: Noted US lawyers here Tuesday said that the Pakistani mother Dr Aafia Siddiqui is presently the most important political prisoner of the world, wrongly persecuted, and outrageously sentenced in connection with the ‘lawfare’ of US administration and agencies.

Renowned US lawyers Stephen Downs and Cathy Manley were addressing a crowded press conference along with Dr Aafia’s sister Dr Fowzia at Lahore Press Club (LPC).

They said a new study carried out in the USA has found that 94percent of those persecuted in connection in terrorism cases post 9/11 were unfairly prosecuted.

Stephen Downs executive director NCPCF, and co author of the study “inventing terrorists” Kathy Manley said Dr Aafia is number 2 in the appendix of victims of wrongful persecution.

Quoting from their study they said “…the war on terror has been largely a charade designed to make the American public believe that a terrorist army is loose in the U.S., when the truth is that most of the people convicted of terrorism-related crimes posed no danger to the U.S. and were entrapped by a preventive strategy known as preemptive prosecution.”

They said that Dr Aafia is the most well known and respected political prisoner in the world. The injustice and maltreatment she has received shocks the conscience.

We fail to understand why Pakistan has not asked for her repatriation. No political considerations could be strong enough to prolong her sufferings.

“We feel that this is not a difficult task if the political will is there. The world now knows that these preemptive prosecutions are actually a shameful fact and needs to be rectified and there is no better place to start than with Dr Aafia.

They explained that Project SALAM (Support And Legal Advocacy for Muslims) and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF) jointly released a substantial new study, Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution, about the government’s post-9/11 strategy of preemptive prosecution of domestic terrorism cases.

Inventing Terrorists is the first study to directly examine and critique preemptive prosecution and its abuses.

The 175-page study defines preemptive prosecution as “a law enforcement strategy…to target and prosecute individuals or organizations whose beliefs, ideology, or religious affiliations raise security concerns for the government.” Inventing Terrorists draws on the metaphor of “lawfare”–the use of the law as a weapon of war–to detail the government’s deliberate use of preemptive prosecution and associated legal tactics.

The study argues that the government “has used preemptive prosecution to exaggerate the threat of Muslim extremism to the security of the country,” and compares a list of 399 “official” terrorism cases published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2010 to a unique database of terrorism cases from 2001 to the present, compiled by Project SALAM, to categorize, analyze, and re-think terrorism prosecutions across America.

A compelling statistic that emerges from analysis of the 399 cases shows that 94% were either preemptive prosecution cases or cases that contained significant elements of preemptive prosecution. The study makes a firm distinction between individuals who represented real security threats to the nation and those who were preemptively prosecuted and never represented any threat.

The most well known example is that of the Political prisoner Dr Aafia Siddiqui;

though her case is not much different from thousands of others Aafia is the most important political prisoner in the world. It involves not only justice but Mercy also. Here innocent little children were involved, and Aafia ranks number two in our study.

And Aafia’s case is one of the main reasons for our visit to Pakistan. It’s one of the most horrific and disturbing cases, and we hope to do our share in assisting the family and in efforts to repatriate Aafia.

There are many ways that Aafia can be repatriated but first Pakistan has to officially demand for her return, which surprisingly the Government has still not done. During our brief stay we have noticed the overwhelming support and love that ordinary Pakistani citizens have for Aafia. “We hope to help take this process further by meeting various officials in the government.”

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