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Coalition Of Conscience: The Aafia Mobilizations In The USA

13 March 2013

By El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan

Prelude to a Three Part Struggle 

The March on the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC -- News Release - March 12, 2013

In March 2012, demonstrations were held in 15 countries that called for the release and repatriation of a Pakistani female prisoner, and MIT graduate, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The smallest of those demonstrations was in the very country where this young woman, who many regard as a political prisoner, is being held, the United States of America. 

Determined not to see a repetition of last year's disappointing outcome, American activists held a press conference on "International Women's Day" at the National Press Club in downtown Washington - to bring attention to the plight of Dr. Siddiqui, imprisoned attorney Lynne Stewart, and to remember the life and legacy of Rachel Corrie an American activist who at the age of 23 had her life taken away by an Israeli soldier in Occupied Palestine, while nonviolently attempting to prevent the destruction of a Palestinian family's home in the Rafah refugee camp. Later that same day a demonstration was held outside the Pakistani Embassy for Dr. Siddiqui. 

Last Friday's two part initiative was sponsored by a "Coalition of Conscience" comprising a diverse array of civil liberties, human rights and antiwar activists and organizations. The speakers were Sara Flounders of the International Action Center (IAC); Sue Udry of Defending Dissent Foundation and the Coalition to Stop FBI Repression; Ann Wright, a retired U.S. Army Colonel and former U.S. diplomat; Ralph Poynter, the husband of Attorney Lynne Stewart; Steve Downs of Project SALAM and the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms; Joe Lombardo of the United National Antiwar Coalition; Shahid Comrade, a Pakistani American New York-based activist; M. Salim Akhtar of the Pakistan American Democratic Forum & American Muslim Taskforce; Mauri' Saalakhan of The Peace Thru Justice Foundation, and the politically-conscious graphic artist Chris Towne. 

While the majority of speakers at both the press conference and demonstration were non-Muslim, the majority of demonstrators who assembled in front of the Pakistani embassy were Muslim - young and old, of varying cultural hues (i.e. South Asian, Arab, Persian, African, and African American) - who called on the outgoing government in Pakistan to do the right thing before it leaves office, secure the release and repatriation of their Pakistani citizen. 

One area leader who was unable to attend the press conference, but who delivered a presentation at the embassy protest that clearly resonated with many who were there, was Imam Mohammad al-Asi, the only Muslim religious leader at either event. In fact, of the national Muslim organizations with offices in Washington, none were represented at the press club or embassy rally. 

Among the many noteworthy signs that were carried by the protesters were two that eloquently summed up the reason for the demonstration at the embassy:  



The concluding part of the special March 2013 mobilization, marking a decade of imprisonment for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, will take place in Fort Worth (TX) later this month. On Friday, March 29, from 3-5PM, Aafia's supporters will gather at the U.S. District Court located at 501 W. 10th St, in downtown Ft. Worth. On Saturday, March 30, 12 noon, supporters will assemble outside the military reserve base where FMC Carswell is located.

Among the speakers for the mobilization in Texas will be the former U.S Attorney General, and internationally renowned human rights icon, Ramsey Clark

For additional info on the upcoming Fort Worth mobilization, or for access to the audio record of the March 8th press conference, send an e-mail to peacethrujustice@aol.com or call (301) 220-0133, or (202) 246-9608.



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