Family Statement on 11 years Anniversary of Aafia`s Unjust in carceration.
For the rest of the world, the attention ebbs and flows around anniversaries. For Aafia's ailing mother marking an eleventh year is just another day of loss. Aafia's mother was elated by last year's tenth anniversary activities. People in two dozen countries participated in demonstrations and demanded her daughter's return. A new national government had been elected in Pakistan, a government that pledged to bring her home. Public interest in Aafia's case was moved to demand not only action but results. The government reacted with vigor and the Prime Minister made a personal promise.
And then nothing happened. 2013 just sort of faded away amidst the echoes of official excuses and hasn't been heard from since.
But Aafia's mother still has faith that there are people who will feel the touch of God on their souls and bring her daughter home.
2014 has begun with some promise and some disappointment.
Aafia met with her brother for the first time in two years. There are no good family meetings at Carswell Prison, but some are more unpleasant than others. She looks much older than her years. She has no front teeth. She has scars and bruises that she chooses not to explain.
One of the reasons for the gap in these visits is the prison's policy of subjecting Aafia to an invasive body cavity strip search after each visit. Officially they are making sure her brother isn't inserting contraband into her bodily orifices while they talk to each other in front of a guard and a video camera.
This issue has yet to be resolved.
Aafia said she is disappointed by the lack of sincerity among those who have claimed to represent her case and their lack of success with even modest improvements in her conditions. Despite this she still retains her faith and the hope that a positive outcome is still possible.
Earlier this month American human rights advocate Mauri Saalakhan travelled to Karachi to meet with Aafia's family and with representatives of Pakistan's human rights community. Mr. Saalakhan is the dynamo whose energy has propelled the Aafia Movement in the United States. Moving through the institutional inertia that is an occupational hazard in human rights advocacy is an exhausting process. When asked where this energy comes from he replied that he just bows down in prayer and Allah gives him the strength he needs.
A proposed treaty that would allow for the transfer of prisoners (including Aafia) between the United States and Pakistan was withdrawn under mysterious circumstances. The negotiations went "poof" just like a cheap magician's trick and the officials responsible used the same excuses they have been using for years.
This week Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan met with American Secretary of State John Kerry. According to the headlines:
"Nawaz, Kerry discuss Pakistan-US ties"
"US satisfied with Pakistan nuclear security arrangements"
"Pakistani PM, U.S. John Kerry discuss relations"
"Nawaz Asks US Help Normalize Ties Between Pakistan, India"
No headline mentioned Aafia. Maybe she is forgotten and abandoned. The previous government in Pakistan would explain their failure to discuss the fate of Aafia Siddiqui with the United States, "The American government doesn't want to talk about her."
The American government doesn't want to talk about a lot of things, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be asked about them.
*How To Negotiate.
Aafia has a niece in Pakistan. This little girl has wanted a horse for years.
Her mother said no.
While this little girl has never met him, she knows she has an Uncle Andy in Texas. And she knows that there are horses in Texas. She asked her mother if Uncle Andy could bring her one.
Her mother said no.
When this little girl was told that Uncle Mauri was coming to visit, and that Uncle Mauri was a friend of Uncle Andy, she asked if Uncle Mauri could get a horse from Uncle Andy and bring it with him.
Her mother said no.
This little girl doesn't have a horse. Yet.
But she has learned the first rule of negotiations:
"If you don't ask for what you want, you won't get it."
It seems that this little girl knows more about negotiating than Pakistan's government. Maybe she should be the Foreign Minister.
*The Lessons of Aafia.
Even locked in the black hole of Carswell Prison, Aafia has refused to abandon her faith in God and humanity. As she told judge Richard Berman in New York City, "I will not forget what you have done to me but I will forgive you."