El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
Operation Redemption: Day 4: A Message of Thanks from the Family of Aafia...
Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace):
Yesterday I sent out the link to the latest edition of the online newsletter for the international Aafia movement, but I wanted to make sure folks read the chronological progress report (contained in the newsletter) from last year's efforts; and so I'm presenting it below in full. The progress report is followed by a few photos, news clippings, and a short blog report by Sara Flounders of the International Action Center.
(In one news report a rhetorical question is echoed by former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney: "Where are the Muslim men?" Insha'Allah, Muslim Men will be present and accounted for in this three month mobilization effort!)
The year 1433/2012 was one of the most challenging for me, personally, in a number of ways. It was also, however, the most fruitful year-to-date for our sister, Aafia Siddiqui...and for this I am deeply, deeply grateful.
Dec 31, 2012
A Message of Thanks from the Family of Aafia...
We send our thanks and prayers to all of our friends around the world for everything you have done for Aafia.
2012 marked nine years in chains for Aafia, but the movement to free her made huge gains. International support for the Free Aafia campaign has expanded to include groups in two dozen countries. Support for Aafia is nearly universal in Pakistan despite the government's limitations on press coverage, especially in the English language media, and several official "protective" roadblocks.
Some of you marched peacefully with thousands of other people on to the streets to demand her freedom. Some of you sent Aafia a postcard telling her that you love her, that you believe her, and that you are praying for her and her family. Some of you raised money. Some of you gave your time. Many of you prayed. Many of you were there among the thousands who joined the "Caravan of Dignity" (Karwan-e-Ghairat) rallies
You proved that a quilt of interfaith harmony can be a powerful weapon against injustice as Aafia was remembered at Ashura, Ramadan, Naurooz, Easter, Holi, Diwali and Christmas
, united under a banner demanding that our common humanity be recognized everywhere.
All of you are part of our family in a way that we can't explain but we will always be grateful for.
Below are some of the notable events of 2012.
A fatwa from a senior religious body in Makkah, Saudi Arabia is made public calling for support for securing Aafia's freedom. It is censored in the Pakistani media and Saudi officials asked the family not to make a public issue of it. Pakistani agencies have repeated this message to us and added "or else".
On February 10th a large peaceful rally near the US consulate in Karachi was violently assaulted. In the unprovoked attack coordinated by Pakistani and foreign security personnel using water cannons and baton charges, several people were seriously hurt and needed hospitalization including Aafia's sister, Dr. Fauzia and Altaf Shakoor. Our sources told us that the slogan "86 years=Bullshit" that had been displayed at an earlier demonstration offended someone in the consulate who demanded retribution.
Far from silencing us, it brought us an international spotlight and became a catalyst for a major series of events across South Africa. This kicked off a successful campaign which has now multiple active chapters with new ones opening in neighboring African countries.(more here
The ninth anniversary of the kidnapping of Aafia and her three children is marked by candlelight vigils and rallies across fifteen countries including a vigil outside the United States' embassy in London, a rally outside the Federal Courthouse in Fort Worth, Texas, just a few miles from where Aafia is being held at Carswell Prison, and a large demonstration outside the US consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa
. (more here
For several years the Pakistani TV channel ARY has made a tradition of dedicating their Mother's Day morning show to Dr. Aafia and her children. A worldwide audience watched Ahmed and Maryam as they continue their journey from trauma to normalcy. (video here)
On this same occasion we were also reminded of the baby Suleman who was only 6 months old when abducted. His fate remains a mystery. Little interest is shown by Pakistan's authorities. As one official said to our family, "He was just a Pakistani kid - who cares?" *(Ahmad and Maryam were born in the United States and are American citizens. Suleman, born in Pakistan, was just a Pakistani kid.)(more here)
An Independence Day campaign to send tens of thousands of cards to the White House was launched and over 50,000 were mailed world wide.
As our successes grew, the shadowy security agencies were not idle. A malicious rumor of Aafia's death was spread. Aafia is kept is total isolation and had no contact with family or even lawyers so we were in no position to verify. This was eventually proven to be nothing more than a spiteful response to the campaign directed at Aafia's elderly mother.
During the Ramadan, two significant developments occurred. The American government confirmed that the Pakistani government had never made a formal request for Aafia's repatriation and so the United States could take no action. This exposed the complicity of some highly placed Pakistani authorities in keeping Aafia locked up. (more here)
The second development was perhaps the most dramatic of this entire ordeal. Aafia spoke. Her own words. Her own voice. A video from 1991 of nineteen year old Aafia giving a talk on the Role of Women in Islam appeared on YouTube. The video garnered 100,000 views in days, despite a news media black out by Pakistani, Turkish, and Arab TV stations. While acknowledging its authenticity, "editorial" decisions prevented the video from being broadcast or even mentioned. (video here)
Former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Pakistan. He described Aafia's imprisonment and the underlying premise as unjustifiable and called the American system in this case "unfair" and terming Aafia's trial "illegal". (more here)
Former United States Senator Mike Gravel visited Pakistan to emphasize that this was purely a political case and its solution lay in the political arena. He urged action, making the famous comment, "If the Pakistani government took serious action, Aafia could be home in two days". (more here)
A delegation of US antiwar groups led by UNAC and Code Pink came to Pakistan to protest the evils of the "collateral damage" of the war on terror, including the drone attacks and the case of Dr. Aafia. (more here)
Former United States Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and International Action Center (IAC) director Sara Flounders visited Pakistan and spent a "Free Aafia Week" across Pakistan, again highlighting the inaction on the part of the Pakistani government. (more here)
Our campaign websites were hacked and selective data damaged. Aafia's sister was detained multiple times and her family threatened. Her livelihood placed at risk when her clinic, one of the few in Pakistan that treats epilepsy, was targeted under the guise of "extortion".
Also in 2012, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, the foreign minister for the former military dictator Pervez Musharaf, admitted in his infamous tweet: "I'm so sorry for handing over the innocent @DrAafiaSiddiqui to the Americans. It was my biggest mistake ever!.Khurshi Kasuri"
Not surprisingly, after this tweet went viral, Mr. Kasuri removed it, but he has not repudiated it either.
And these are just the highlights!
By God's grace, 2012 was eventful and has set the stage for more in 2013. We are energized by the success of so many events and the growing international support.
This Article Was First Published On January 2013