Keabetswe Shilakwe | 12 January 2017
A family’s hope lies in the hands of a president who serves his last days in the White House.
Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani academic who went missing in March 2003. After she reappeared in 2008, she was arrested, charged, later convicted and sentenced to 86 years in prison on five different charges in the year 2010. Her family has since tried to get a presidential pardon for her from President Barack Obama before his term as president ends.
A clemency commutation petition has been drawn up and delivered to President Obama as well as the pardon attorney in hopes that her sentence will be commuted and Aafia may return to her family. The family is very hopeful that the president will pardon her.
Aafia’s sister, Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, says the last time any meaningful communication was made between the family and Aafia was in the year 2015. Dr. Siddiqui says even Aafia’s children haven’t been able to get hold of her since communication was barred. She says numerous attempts have been made to the prison in which Aafia is kept and they have given her excuses as to why she will be unable to communicate with Aafia. She also says there are some legal issues that surround her release.
“ It’s only waiting because Aafia is a Pakistani citizen, she needs assurance and she needs travel documents and acceptance because she’ll have to come to Pakistan, from the Pakistani government.”
Dr. Siddiqui says claims made by the Pakistani government to have Aafia released have amounted to nothing. She says the Pakistani government claims to have sent a letter for Aafia’s release and yet the U.S government denies having received such a letter. Dr. Siddiqui also says her numerous attempts at asking the government to give her the letter so she may deliver it personally, have been met with excuses.
“It’s silence, a deafening silence.”
The family pleads with the public to post messages on Facebook and Twitter in order to bring about action. Dr. Siddiqui especially asks Pakistan’s prime minister’s daughter to be mentioned through the form of her Twitter handle to plead with her father to write the letter to the U.S officials.
Let us do our bid to have a woman who is also a mother, a daughter and a sister brought back to her loved ones.
“I was always mortified. Didn’t they know they were tying their mothers to the ground? Weren’t the chains ashamed of their prisoners?” – Janet Fitch
Here is the Twitter handle the public can mention during the tweets: @maryamnawaaz
For information on Aafia’s story visit: https://draafia.wordpress.com/who-is-dr-aafia-siddiqui-and-what-happened-to-her-and-her-loved-ones/