Rights Groups Issue Open Letter on Upcoming NYC Trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi and Severe Special Admini
The Center for Constitutional Rights, The Council of American Islamic Relations-New York, and Amnesty International released an open letter expressing concern over Fahad Hashmi’s upcoming trial. The letter urges the Attorney General, Eric Holder to both review and revise Department of Justice regulations which govern the implementation of Special Administrative Measures. SAMs can be imposed on inmates past 120 days when the Department of Justice deems it reasonably necessary “because there is a substantial risk that an inmates communication or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons or substantial property would entail the risk of death or serious bodily injury to persons.” The open letter expresses concern over whether Fahad has even been informed of the reasons for the imposition of the SAMSs.
Rights Groups Issue Open Letter on Upcoming NYC Trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi and Severe Special Administrative Measures
April 23, 2010, New York – The Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International USA, and the Council on American Islamic Relations-NY released an open letter today expressing their serious concerns about the trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi, set to begin on April 28. The human rights organizations discuss Mr. Hashmi’s severe conditions of confinement over the last three years in which he has awaited trial, their impact on his mental health, and his ability to effectively participate in his own defense.
The material support charges against Mr. Hashmi are based on the allegation that he allowed an acquaintance, Junaid Babar, to use his cell phone and to stay with him at his apartment in London where he was pursuing a Master’s degree. According to Mr. Hashmi’s indictment, Babar had waterproof socks and rain ponchos in his luggage that he later delivered to al-Qaeda in South Waziristan. Mr. Hashmi denies all charges against him.
In their letter, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Amnesty International USA, and the Council on American Islamic Relations-NY urge the Attorney General to review and revise the Department of Justice regulations governing the imposition of severe Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) to ensure that all prisoners are held in humane conditions, are not subjected to discriminatory treatment, are given adequate information about why SAMs are being imposed, and are given a full opportunity to argue and present evidence against their imposition.
Two days ago, CCR publicly condemned the government’s attempt to frighten the jury in Mr. Hashmi’s case, calling the U.S. Attorney’s motion for the jurors to be anonymous and kept under extra security because of the attention and political activism these issues have drawn to the case “a clear attempt to influence the jury by creating a sense of fear for their safety and to paint Mr. Hashmi as already guilty.”
Open Letter from Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Council on American Islamic Relations-NY on the upcoming trial of Syed Fahad Hashmi and the severe Special Administrative Measures to which he is subjected :
On April 28, Syed Fahad Hashmi is scheduled to be tried in the Southern District of New York on charges of material support for terrorism. Mr. Hashmi has been held in pretrial detention at the Special Housing Unit at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan, pursuant to Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs, for almost three years now. These measures have severely limited his ability to communicate with the outside world and effectively placed him in solitary confinement, although he has not been convicted of any crime.
Mr. Hashmi is 30 years old, was raised in Queens and attended Brooklyn College before moving to London to obtain a Master’s degree in political science. Since his extradition to the United States in May 2007, he has been imprisoned alone in a cell and not permitted to speak, worship or otherwise communicate with any other prisoners. He is not permitted any visitors or outside communications, except for his attorneys and limited visits from immediate family. He is not allowed any physical human contact, even from his closest family members. Mr. Hashmi is allowed one hour per day of physical exercise, which must be taken alone, in a small cage inside the prison. He is not permitted access to any natural air or sunlight. Moreover, Mr. Hashmi is subjected to a strip-search before his one hour per day of exercise. Due to the resulting humiliation he experiences, he has chosen to forego this hour outside of his cell altogether.
In addition, Mr. Hashmi is subjected to constant surveillance, not only when he is alone in his cell but also when he showers, uses the toilet, or meets with an attorney or family member. He may not communicate with any members of the media, and he is forbidden from listening to a television or radio news program or reading a timely newspaper.
Mr. Hashmi’s family, friends and attorneys are extremely concerned that his mental health is rapidly deteriorating under these extreme conditions. It is well-documented that solitary confinement can have severely detrimental effects on a prisoner’s mental health. It may also affect his ability to effectively participate in his trial and to present his defense.
Muslim community groups are increasingly expressing concern about these prison conditions, as they seem to be imposed disproportionately on Muslims suspected of connections with terrorism.
SAMs may be imposed on a particular inmate, according to the Department of Justice’s regulations, when such measures are “reasonably necessary to prevent disclosure of classified information,” or when “reasonably necessary to protect persons against the risk of death or serious bodily injury.” To be extended beyond the initial 120-day period, the Attorney General or federal law enforcement must demonstrate that such measures are reasonably necessary “because there is a substantial risk that an inmate’s communications or contacts with persons could result in death or serious bodily injury to persons, or substantial damage to property that would entail the risk of death or serious bodily injury to persons.”
The material support charges against Mr. Hashmi are based on the allegation that he allowed an acquaintance, Junaid Babar, to use his cell phone and to stay with him at his apartment in London where he was pursuing a Master’s degree. According to Mr. Hashmi’s indictment, Babar had waterproof socks and rain ponchos in his luggage that he later delivered to al-Qaeda in South Waziristan. Mr. Hashmi denies all charges against him. These charges will be the subject of his trial.
We are concerned that Mr. Hashmi has not been informed of the reasons for the imposition of SAMs. We are also concerned that Mr. Hashmi is being held under conditions that are not consistent with international standards for humane treatment. Due to their likely impact on his mental health, we are further concerned that these conditions will prejudice his ability to assist in his own defense.
The Department of Justice stated last year that 46 inmates around the country were being confined pursuant to SAMs. Although we recognize that the department has a legitimate interest in protecting classified information that may harm national security and in protecting the public against acts of terrorism, we are very concerned that inmates held pursuant to such measures are not being given an adequate opportunity to defend against the imposition of SAMs in their cases.
We urge the Attorney General to review and revise the agency’s regulations governing the imposition of SAMs to ensure that all prisoners regardless of their security status are held in humane conditions, are not subjected to discriminatory treatment, are given adequate information about why SAMs are being imposed, and are given a full opportunity to argue and present evidence against their imposition.
Amnesty International USA
Center for Constitutional Rights
Council on American Islamic Relations – New York
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.
The message is sent on Free Fahad Facebook group.
By Tariq Butt
ISLAMABAD: The report of the UN fact-finding commission says the then Rawalpindi City Police Officer (CPO), Saud Aziz, had ordered to hose down the scene of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination at the Liaquat Bagh on the order of the chief of the Military Intelligence of the time, Major General Nadeem Ijaz, who was not only a relative of Pervez Musharraf but also a known crony of the former dictator.
The report lays a lot of blame on Saud Aziz on different counts, especially washing of the crime scene and lack of autopsy. He was posted as the CPO Multan immediately after the present government came to power.
The commission attached a great significance to the washing of the crime scene to eliminate the evidence that could have proved tremendously useful in investigations into the assassination.
At one place, the report said, the then Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lieutenant General Nadeem Taj met Benazir Bhutto in the early morning hours of December 27 at the Zardari House Islamabad. It said that directly knowledgeable sources told the commission that they spoke both about the elections as well as threats to her life; versions differ as to how much detail was conveyed about the threats. The commission is satisfied that at the least the ISI chief told Benazir Bhutto that the agency was concerned about a possible terrorist attack against her and urged her to limit her public exposure and to keep a low profile at the campaign event at the Liaquat Bagh later that day.
According to the findings, another source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Saud Aziz was ordered to hose down the scene by the then MI chief.
The report said that an ISI officer, Rawalpindi Detachment Commander Colonel Jehangir Akhtar, was present at the RGH through much of the evening. At one point, ISI deputy chief Major General Nusrat Naeem, contacted senior physician Prof Mussadiq through Colonel Jehangir’s cell phone. When asked about this by the commission, Nusrat Naeem initially denied making any calls to the hospital, but then acknowledged that he had indeed called when pressed further. He asserted that he had made the call, before reporting to his superiors, to hear, directly from Prof Mussadiq that Benazir Bhutto had died.
The commission said sources informed it that Saud Aziz did not act independently in deciding to hose down the crime scene. One source, on condition of anonymity, said the CPO had confided to him that he had received a call from the Army Headquarters instructing him to order the hosing down of the crime scene.
Others, including three police officials, told the commission that Saud Aziz did not act independently and that “everyone knows” who ordered the hosing down. However, they were not willing to state on the record what it is that “everyone knows”. This is one of the many occasions during the commission’s inquiry when individuals, including government officials, expressed fear or hesitation to speak openly, the report said.
It said that on three different occasions, senior Physician Professor Mussadiq of the RGH, where Benazir Bhutto was brought from the Liaquat Bagh, asked Saud Aziz for permission to conduct her autopsy, and the CPO refused each request. On the second request, Saud Aziz is reported to have sarcastically asked the professor whether an FIR had been filed, a matter that the CPO should know, not the professor.
The report said that the then District Coordination Officer of Rawalpindi Irfan Elahi (now a senior Punjab government official), who was also present outside the operating room of the RGH, supported the CPO’s position. The authorities, however, deny that the CPO deliberately refused to allow an autopsy. They insist that they wanted to get permission from Benazir Bhutto’s family. However, the commission said the police’s legal duty to request an autopsy does not require permission from a family member.
It said that because Prof Mussadiq could not obtain police consent to carry out an autopsy, he called in X-ray technician Ghafoor Jadd, who took two X-rays of her skull with a portable X-ray machine. He did this without notifying or seeking Saud Aziz’s consent. Though not present at the time, a radiologist examined the X-rays the next day. Benazir Bhutto’s death certificate was completed and signed by the senior registrar, Dr Aurangzeb, who recorded the cause of death as “To be determined on autopsy”.
The report said that soon after the blast outside the Liaquat Bagh the CPO left the crime scene for the RGH; SSP Yaseen Farooq followed shortly thereafter. The most senior Rawalpindi police official remaining at the crime scene was SP Khurram Shahzad, who continued to take instructions from Saud Aziz by telephone. The management of the crime scene and the collection of evidence by the Rawalpindi police during this time have generated considerable controversy.
The commission said that senior Pakistani police officials explained to it that in law and practice, the ranking police official at the scene of the crime takes decisions relating to crime scene management. SP Khurram asserted that he made the decision to hose down the scene. Before issuing the order to the rescue and fire services, Khurram called his superior, Saud Aziz, to seek permission, which was granted. Sources, including police officials familiar with the case, questioned the veracity of SP Khurram’s claim that the decision was his initiative.
The report said Saud Aziz’s role in this decision is controversial. Many senior Pakistani police officials have emphasised that hosing down a crime scene is fundamentally inconsistent with Pakistani police practice. While they acknowledge that there is no uniformity of practice in crime scene management in Pakistan, the washing of such a place is considered extraordinary. Indeed, with the exception of some Rawalpindi police officials, nearly all senior Pakistani police officials have criticised the manner in which this crime scene was managed. One senior police official argued that hosing down the crime scene amounted to “criminal negligence”.
According to the commission, several senior police officials who know the CPO were troubled that an officer with his 33 years of experience would allow a major crime scene to be washed away, thereby damaging his reputation.
The report said that some senior Pakistani police officials identified further factors suggesting that the CPO was not acting independently. They point out that, while the deliberate hosing down of a scene is unheard of in police practice, it has occurred on a few occasions, in each case when the military has been the target of such attacks and the crime scene was managed by the military directly.
Even Saud Aziz, the commission said, when asserting to it that there were precedents for hosing down a crime scene, acknowledged that all the incidents which he posited as precedents actually involved a military target. The police officials who point out this pattern saw it as further indication that the military was involved in having the crime scene hosed down.
The report said since the extraordinary nature of the hosing down of the crime scene generated such controversy that Punjab government officials recognised that some response was necessary. A three-member inquiry committee was set up by the chief minister to look into the washing down of the crime scene. The commission requested meetings with these individuals, which the facilitation committee was not able to arrange. No credible reason was provided. However, the committee accepted the Rawalpindi police explanation that the decision to wash the crime scene was formed by the investigating police officer at the scene, SP Khurram, with permission from CPO Saud Aziz, on grounds of public order. The committee had further found that the decision was not made with any mala fide intention and that washing the crime scene did not negatively impact on the conclusion as to the cause of death.
The commission said Benazir Bhutto’s Land Cruiser was initially taken to the City Police Station some time after midnight early on December 28 and then taken to the Police Lines. In the early hours of December 28, Saud Aziz went to see the Police Lines, together with others, including ISI officers, who were the first to conduct a forensic examination of the vehicle. An investigating police officer on the orders of the CPO removed Benazir Bhutto’s shoes and took them to the City Police Station. Sometime thereafter, the shoes were ordered back into the car.
The report said the commission is not convinced that the decision to wash the scene was made by Saud Aziz alone. The attack was too significant and its target too important to Pakistani society to make such a decision solely on his level.
“Sources told the commission that CPO Saud Aziz was constantly talking on his mobile phone while at the hospital. In the commission’s view, he has not adequately explained who called him during that time. Other sources have provided credible information about the intervention of intelligence agencies in the case. Whoever was responsible for this decision, and for whatever reason, acted in a manner that is contrary to the most basic police standards and hampered the proper investigation of the assassination,” the report said.
The report said the lack of a clear cause of death established by an autopsy severely affected the credibility of the government among the general public and has given rise to wide speculation as to the cause of Benazir Bhutto’s death. CPO Saud Aziz again appears in a setting in which he seems to have been able to impede the effective investigation of the crime. Again, it is unlikely that a police officer of his level could make such significant and ultimately destructive decisions on his own and wield such power. He maintains that he did not deny any requests for an autopsy.
Furthermore, it said, the CPO impeded some Joint Investigation Team investigators from conducting on-site probe until two full days after the assassination. The failure of Punjab authorities to otherwise review effectively the gross failures of the senior Rawalpindi police officials and deal with them appropriately constitutes a broader whitewash by Punjab officials.
The commission said the deliberate prevention by the CPO of a post mortem examination of Benazir Bhutto hindered a definitive determination of the cause of her death. It was patently unrealistic for the CPO to expect that Asif Zardari would allow an autopsy on his arrival in Pakistan at the Chaklala Airbase nearly seven hours after his wife’s death and after her remains had been placed in a coffin and brought to the airport. The autopsy should have been carried out at the RGH long before Zardari arrived.
ISLAMABAD: All those who have come under a cloud of suspicion in the UN Commission report on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination have been generously and exceptionally treated and rewarded by the present PPP regime.–>Ansar Abbasi The News
By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: All those who have come under a cloud of suspicion in the UN Commission report on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination have been generously and exceptionally treated and rewarded by the present PPP regime.
The report found Rehman Malik’s statement as incredible. It blamed the Musharraf regime and talked in a suspicious manner about the role and conduct of the then Rawalpindi’s City Police Officer Saud Aziz. It also expressed its reservations over the role of the then secretary interior Kamal Shah and his inability to properly respond to seriousthreats to Benazir’s life. It also speaks about the dubious role of Nusrat Naeem, the then deputy DG ISI.
Interestingly, the present regime let General Musharraf leave the country. Rehman Malik, chief security officer of Benazir Bhutto, was amongst the first ones to be given key government position. Malik was initially appointed as Adviser to the PM on interior and later made the minister after getting into the Senate. Malik is today one of the most influential ministers and close associates of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Kamal Shah, the then secretary interior, a known favourite of Musharraf was protected and was even given extension in service but was ultimately removed last year.The then CPO Rawalpindi Saud Aziz despite having been identified as an extremely controversial cop to have messed up with the Benazir’s murder case, has been appointed as CPO Multan, the prime minister’s hometown on the personal request of the PM.
The then deputy chief of ISI, Maj-Gen Nusrat Naeem, and a known crony of Musharraf was not promoted by the incumbent Army chief and allowed to retire prematurely, is also reported to be in contact with today’s Presidency as well.
The Commission also said Kamal Shah did not have any clear answer when asked as to why following the Oct 22 threat report, no directive was issued to safeguard Benazir Bhutto. The treatment given to these people by the PPP shows it has no reservations about their role in the Benazir murder. In fact, the PPP did not even register an FIR against the assassination and it is not clear whether any case would now be registered after the UN report, which costs $50 million to the taxpayers.
Note that the purpose of UN commission was fact-finding not fixing the responsibility.
1) Why Musharraf was given a safe exit when even PPP workers think he was responsible for BB’s murder? Was it due to the fact that Mr. Zardari was one of the beneficiaries or it was due to some pressure?
2) Why the key responsible persons continued to work on their positions without proper accountability during the government of PPP including interior ministry officers, police officers, intelligence agency officers including former DG MI Nadeem Ijaz, former ISI head and Vice Army Chief General Kiyani?
3) Kiyani is now Army Chief and was representing Musharraf during NRO deal. Will he allow further investigation on the role of ISI, MI,Musharraf and Kiyani himself?
4) In Rehman Malik’s car, two other persons were also sitting. These two persons are Babar Awan and Musharraf’s close friend and former Core Commander Mangla Lt. General (R) Tauqir Zia(who was also the Chairman PCB during Musharraf time). Will some probe them for their role and negligence?
5) Why the government of Pakistan delayed UN Commission Report for 15 days (till 15th April 2010)? Even though UN Commission didn’t conduct any new interview after 31st March 2010 as opposite to the government’s claim that the Commission is requested to conduct few interviews. Rehman Malik even yesterday revised the same claim.
6) Will this murder go into the dustbin of Waziristan or some serious investigations will be done to investigate this high-profile murder?
Lets see if millions of dollars invested by a poor nation on this report will be of any use or not?
I hope some serious and independent investigation and trial will be conducted for this murder.
9 ) Commission didn’t find evidence against Asif Zardari’s and any of the family members’ involvement in this murder.
The mystery sourrounding the teenage girl found in front of Dr. Fauzia’s house is finally resolved. After mixed reports it is finally confirmed by the family and government
that the girl is really Aafia’s daughter Maryam.
Congrats to the family and hopefully Aafia’s youngest son Suleman will also be handed over. It is also reported that Maryam was held in Bagram jail which also confirms that Aafia wasn’t arrested in Ghazni alone or some say with her son. In fact she was abducted with her 3 children (2 boys and 1 girl).
DNA test proves teenage girl as Aafia’s daughter
The Eastern Tribune
Islamabad: According to initial report of DNA test, the teenage girl, brought by unidentified men to home of Dr Fauzia Siddiqui, has been declared as daughter of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui.
Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui, sister of Dr Aafia Siddiqui visited the Interior Ministry with 12 years old Maryam on Saturday and held a meeting with Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
Talking to media after holding the meeting, the Interior Minister said that Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani wanted to make the announcement himself but he asked him to announce this.
Rehman Malik said that the DNA Report has proved that 12 years old Maryam is daughter of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, adding the girl only speak English.
Responding to a question, the Interior Minister said that the government is taking all possible measures for the return of Dr. Aafia, saying the Prime Minister during his stay in the United States would strongly raise the issue of release of Dr. Aafia with the leadership of the United States.
The Minister on the occasion congratulated the entire nation and the family of Dr. Aafia.
Dr. Fauzia Siddiqui while talking to media said that the DNA test has proved that the girl is daughter of Dr. Aafia and praised the efforts of the government regarding repatriation of Dr. Aafia and her children and specially mentioned efforts of the Interior Minister.
On current visit of the Prime Minister to the United States, Dr. Fauzia expressed her hope that he (Gilani) would raise the issue regarding release of Dr. Aafia with US Leadership.
Terming the visit of Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, a key factor in making the efforts of the government and the Interior Minister productive, she said that the rehabilitation of Maryam would be started soon.
18th amendment has made government more strong and more above the law. Now judiciary will be literally a subordinate institution of parliament and will be lead by the will of
plutocrats. Real bad part of this so called revival of 1973 constitution spirit is that they have further damaged the institution of judiciary and no curbs are put on corruption.
It doesn’t matter much who exercise the power , PM or President. The real things are transparency, accountability and rule of law which now seems to be further weakened.
Now judges will be appointed by a seven membered committee having only 3 serving judges and one retired judge appointed by government, rest of the members will be from government. The approval of the judges appointed by the committee will be approved by an 8 membered parliamentary committee having 4 members from and government and 4 from opposition.
Now the opposition will play give and take even on the issue of judges appointment, judges will be nominated by party heads.
No checks on corruption. They have only exploited slogans , no true decentralization of power.
I don’t know where the people who don’t like both opposition and government or don’t have their share in electing these corrupt feudal-corporatist will go?
We have been saying this regularly that military-feudal-corporatist are playing with our country, they don’t want to give up their control and treat everyone as equal in front of the law.
We need to continuously make efforts for freedom and justice.
We need RULE OF LAW!
We don’t need RULE OF A MAN or RULE OF ELITE.
Current plutocracy is no different than dictatorship. They, including feudal, corrupt corporatist and corrupt generals are all same.
Defaming judiciary, denying to implement court orders, playing shaheed and sind card–>Pakistan Feudal Party playing as dirty as corrupt-feudal politicians can
In a recent Central Executive Committee of Pakistan Feudal Party (aka PPP or Pakistan People’s Party) has shown their defiance to implement Supreme Court’s
NRO judgment especially with regards to Swiss cases.
Taking to media Fauzia Wahab (spokeperson PPP) said that Swiss cases were made against Benazir Bhutto and in CEC they have decided not to open cases
against Nusrat and Benazir Bhutto. It seems the party is again playing Shaheed (Martyr) card to get sympathies of people to cover up Zardari and team corruption.
Also there is a media campaign launched by PPP against judiciary going on. The campaign is not only being launched in Pakistan but in international media as well.
Zardari and team has also been playing liberal and Sind cards as well.
We need to beware of all these things as civil society, they are doing this to further destabilize things as they are not able to run the country properly. PPP wants to come out
from this situation as a victim.
These corrupt feudal politicians are playing as dirty as they can but we need to stand by the justice and rule of law and don’t fall into any illusions they create.