Friday, September 22, 2023

Dr Afia Siddiqui, Pakistani neuroscientist in US prison, meets family after 20 years

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist held in the United States, has finally met her younger sister, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Texas after more than a decade of imprisonment.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan shared this long-awaited reunion on Wednesday. He also revealed that another meeting is scheduled for Thursday, where he and a prominent human rights activist Clive Stafford-Smith —  who also helped liberate Abdul Rabbani and Ahmed Rabbani from the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison —  will join the neurologist.

“Tomorrow I will meet Dr. Aafia in prison along with Dr Fauzia and Clive Stafford-Smith,” Khan tweeted.

The long-awaited reunion

Describing the emotional meeting, Senator Khan explained that it lasted for two and a half hours and unfortunately, Dr. Fauzia was not allowed to hug or shake hands with her sister. She was also unable to show Dr. Aafia pictures of her own children.

“The meeting took place after 20 years and continued for two and a half hours,” Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of rightwing Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party wrote in a Twitter post. “Dr. Fowzia was not allowed to hug or shake hands with Aafia. Dr. Fowzia was also not allowed to show Dr. Aafia pictures of her children. [The meeting took place] in one of the prison rooms where there was a thick glass wall in the middle and they could see each other through it.”

Dr. Aafia appeared in a white scarf and khaki jail attire. During the meeting, she shared details of the daily torture she endures, expressing her longing for her mother and children, unaware of their mother’s passing. Dr. Aafia has also suffered physical injuries, including the loss of her front teeth and hearing difficulties resulting from a head injury sustained while in prison.

Who is Aafia Siddiqui?

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated Pakistani scientist, gained international attention after she was arrested in 2003 and was later convicted by a US court for attempting to kill US military personnel in Afghanistan. She was sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in prison by a New York federal district court. The charges against her included attempted murder and assault, stemming from an incident during an interview with US authorities in Ghazni, Afghanistan. The US also suspected her of having connections to Al-Qaeda.

However, Dr. Aafia vehemently denies these charges. Notably, she was the first woman to be suspected of having links to Al-Qaeda by the US but was never convicted.

The recent reunion between Dr. Aafia and her sister has sparked renewed attention and calls for justice, with hopes of shedding light on her situation and ultimately securing her freedom.

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