Press Release – Free Aafia Campaign Picket Action
SOUTH AFRICANS FLOCK ON AAFIA DAY TO US CONSULATE
South Africans flocked to the United States Consulate situated in the heart of the country’s premier business district, and home of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and other large corporate to join hands with all peace loving communities throughout the world to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the abduction of Dr. Siddiqui and her three children in Karachi, Pakistan. Thousands of passing motorists witnessed the purple clad spectacle and vocal calls of “Free Aafia” and demands for the end to oppression and injustices against Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her repatriation to Pakistan. .
The protest action was held under banner of the Free Aafia Campaign, and was led by the chairperson of the organising committee Inayet Wadee. In his address to the large crowd that had gathered, Wadee made it clear “we are not here to create a disturbance or take the law into our hands: we are here to exercise the right to express ourselves in condemning injustice and oppression”. He also reminded the US Administration of Aafia Siddiqui’s plight and ordeal, which is one of an innocent victim of enforced disappearance, illegal rendition, and torture, and has touched the hearts of humanitarians around the globe. Wadee added, “Aafia’s eighty-six year prison sentence has become symbolic of the pursuit of justice dignity and freedom for many people across the globe”.
He also drew the attention of the United States government to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which the administration is a permanent member, saying that in terms of the UN Charter, the facts in Aafia Siddiqui’s case clearly establish that the Universal Declaration has been violated. “Repatriating Aafia to her homeland is a simple act, we call on the US government to do the honourable thing by releasing her and returning her home, if you claim to be the bastion of democracy and an instrument of civil liberties and freedoms”, he said.
The event which saw a substantial media and police presence was surprisingly attended by the son of Archbishop Desmond Tutu who made a brief appearance in support of the protest action. As a gesture: the large crowd released nine white doves marking nine years of disappearance and incarceration, and six hundred and fifty purple and white balloons in the Sandton skyline which symbolises the fact that Aafia has become known as “Prisoner 650”. At the end of the picket action a memorandum was handed over to an official of the US Consulate, who acknowledged the right of campaign to freedom of expression and committed to forward the memo to the US administration in Washington.