Statement of Support from Gareth Peirce
2nd May 2010
A statement by Gareth Peirce in support of Aafia Siddiqui
One of the UK’s most high profile lawyers and a fearless campaigner for human rights, she sent this statement of support to the Justice for Aafia Coalition, which was read out during the vigil.
Perhaps the most disturbing case of all, amongst the many thousands which have caused us horror over the past eight and a half years, is that of Aafia Siddiqui. Since the time of her reported arrest and the extraordinary decision that she should be transported across the world for trial and not where she was claimed to have been arrested, every aspect has smacked of implausibility, reminding us of the false police accounts here of the early 1970s, where nothing had the ring of truth, but nevertheless only too easily juries would convict the innocent. A different nationality, a different religion, a different appearance: once the allegation of “terrorist” is attached, it must seem safer to the patriotic juror to convict, however unconvincing the prosecution’s evidence.
By a coincidence of timing, a number of men in this country have, for the past five years or more, been contesting their extraditions to the USA, some of them destined for trial in the same Federal District Court in Manhattan as Aafia Siddiqui. That means they have come to investigate and realise the true horror of the circumstances in which a defendant who awaits trial under Special Administrative Measures is held in the USA: entirely isolated, in a cell just 7 feet by 12 feet with a moulded concrete bunk. Food is delivered through a slot in the door. No contact with another person. Never to see the light of day. Even the strongest and fittest would be unable to do justice to themselves, even in the fairest of proceedings. No wonder, faced with the further spectre of the same grim solitary confinement continuing forever (with sentences of 100 years or more), some 97 percent of defendants in the USA plead guilty in an attempt to avoid the worst of the most severe consequences if convicted.
This is a case that cries out for a return, and with the greatest speed, to her own country now for Aafia Siddiqui.
Some day, maybe many years from now, shocking truths may see the light of day. But it is our collective experience that they are not meant ever to do so and that many innocent men and women spend their lives, and some die, before that day ever comes.
I and my colleagues lend whatever support we can offer, to achieving Aafia Siddiqui’s return to her own country, to normality, to freedom, and to a return by those with responsibility, to sanity, to justice and compassion.
2nd May 2010
Full Article at JFAC