Few days ago I shared a news from UN website regarding forced conversion. Here is the other side of the story. Case is in Sind High Court, hopefully there will be a fair decision
by Sarfaraz Memon (Express Tribune)
SUKKUR: Faryal Shah (Rinkle Kumari) appeared before the media on Thursday and made it clear that she had not been kidnapped and had not been forced to convert to Islam and marry Naveed Shah.
Faryal said that she had converted to Islam and had married Naveed Shah of her own free will, and that nobody had pressurised her into this. Reading out the Kalma-e-Tayyaba, Faryal said she was a Muslim girl and therefore had nothing to do with her parents.
Faryal (Rinkle Kumari) and her husband Naveed Shah were produced in front of the Sindh High Court (SHC) Sukker bench on Thursday morning amid tight security.
The couple was escorted by SSP Ghotki Pir Mohammad Shah along with a heavy contingent of police. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Mian Abdul Haq of Bharchoondi Sharif, his son Mian Mohammad Aslam and a large number of their followers were also present.
The couple through their lawyer, Achar Gabole, had filed a constitutional petition stating that their lives were under threat from the relatives of the girl, who had been issuing threats of dire consequences.
Answering a question on threats to their lives, she said, “Our lives are under threat from my maternal uncle Raj Kumar”. She once again made it clear that she was a Muslim and wanted to live with her husband Naveed Shah.
Advocate Mohammad Murad Lund, who was representing Faryal’s grandfather Manohar Lal, told The Express Tribune that the single bench comprising of Justice Ahmed Ali Shaikh without recording the statement of the girl had ordered SSP Ghotki to provide protection to the couple and ensure that they are produced before the SHC chief justice in Karachi on March 12.
Advocate Mohammad Murad Lund kept on insisting that, the girl was under pressure due to the presence of a large number of Bharchoondi Sharif followers. He said everything will become “crystal clear” in Karachi, as the girl would be able to record her statement in a tension free atmosphere.
Mian Mohammad Aslam of Bharchoondi Sharif said that everyone had seen that Faryal was neither under pressure and had not said a word against the Pirs. “Rather she gave a statement against her own maternal uncle who is threatening to kill her.”
He said his father, PPP MNA Mian Abdul Haq had also come to the court because the girl’s parents had requested that they wanted to meet their daughter, but they didn’t come to see her.
Aslam said when the couple had come to Dargah Bharchoondi Sharif on February 24, Faryal had spoken to her parents on his instructions and had told them that she had come there to convert to Islam and marry Naveed Shah.
“I personally requested them to come over and meet their daughter to see for themselves that she was not under pressure, but they didn’t’ come,” Mian Aslam said.
He once again said that neither Islam nor the law of the land allowed forced conversion.
This seems really pathetic. there is no room for these type of actions neither in constitution nor in Islam. forceful conversion is not allowed and directly against Quran. I think human rights organizations especially some of rich or political class hindu community member can raise the issue in high court or supreme court or even in Sharia Court as it is a direct violation of Islamic law as well. Only conversion allowed is voluntary conversion by heart. Also I believe Islamic organizations can help in this as it is a direct insult and misuse of Islam.
“Even after a year of `marriage’ I am not used to my new name. I was called Radha before,” she told IRIN on a rare occasion when she was allowed to go to the corner shop on her own to buy vegetables.
Ameena, or Radha as she still calls herself, was abducted from Karachi about 13 months ago by a group of young men who offered her ice-cream and a ride in their car. Before she knew what was happening, she was dragged into a larger van, and driven to an area she did not know.
She was then pressured into signing forms which she later found meant she was married to Ahmed Salim, 25; she was converted to a Muslim after being asked to recite some verses in front of a cleric. She was obliged to wear a veil. Seven months ago, Ameena, who has not seen her parents or three siblings since then and “misses them a lot”, moved with her new family to southern Punjab.
“The abduction and kidnapping of Hindu girls is becoming more and more common,” Amarnath Motumal, a lawyer and leader of Karachi’s Hindu community, told IRIN. “This trend has been growing over the past four or five years, and it is getting worse day by day.”
He said there were at least 15-20 forced abductions and conversions of young girls from Karachi each month, mainly from the multi-ethnic Lyari area. The fact that more and more people were moving to Karachi from the interior of Sindh Province added to the dangers, as there were now more Hindus in Karachi, he said.
“They come to search for better schooling, for work and to escape growing extremism,” said Motumal who believes Muslim religious schools are involved in the conversion business.
“Hindus are non-believers. They believe in many gods, not one, and are heretics. So they should be converted,” said Abdul Mannan, 20, a Muslim student. He said he would be willing to marry a Hindu girl, if asked to by his teachers, “because conversions brought big rewards from Allah [God]. But later I will marry a `real’ Muslim girl as my second wife,” he said.
According to local law, a Muslim man can take more than one wife, but rights activists argue that the law infringes the rights of women and needs to be altered.
Motumal says Hindu organizations are concerned only with the “forced conversion” of girls under 18. “Adult women are of course free to choose,” he said.
Sunil Sushmt, 40, who lives in a village close to the city of Mirpurkhas in central Sindh Province, said his 14-year-old daughter was “lured away” by an older neighbour and, her parents believe, forcibly converted after marriage to a Muslim. “She was a child. What choice did she have?” her father asked. He said her mother still cries for her “almost daily” a year after the event.
According to official figures, Hindus based mainly in Sindh make up 2 percent of Pakistan’s total population of 165 million. “We believe this figure could be higher,” Motumal said.
“My family has lived in Sindh for generations,” Parvati Devi, 70, told IRIN. “But now I worry for the future of my granddaughters and their children. Maybe we too should leave,” she said. “The entire family is seriously considering this.”
*not her real name
It is infuriating to see some officials acting as if they can get away with insulting the intelligence of the whole world simply by using emotional blackmail over the 09/11 incident which now seems less tragic in comparison with what has been unleashed on the world since then.
“Tortured 9/11 suspect may never be prosecuted: Pentagon official,” is the headline on Yahoo! News today. While making such chilling and uncivilized statemenets as that “sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold” are all authorized “interrogation procedures,” Ms. Susan Crawford tries to become a champion of human rights by stating that in the case of the alleged “20th Hijacker of 09/11”, these techniques were stretched a bit too far and therefore she has decided, oh so benevolently, that the “suspect” should not be brought to trial!
Can we think of a greater insult to intelligence? Rather than admitting that after prolonged captivity and torture, and after ransacking half of the civilized world (arguably, all of which may now be seen as lying outside the US), the US authorities have failed to bring any shred of evidence in an important case related to 09/11? Incidentally, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui will also not be tried but, we are supposed to believe, for a different reason.
The pattern is becoming clearer: Pick them up and build hype in the media, grab some more oil wells, confiscate some more land from an Asian country, and then release the victim. Case dismissed, hope the world will forget.
A very informative article is written by Mr. Babar Sattar in The News related to Dr. Afia Siddiqi case(must read).
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad. He is a Rhodes scholar and has an LL.M from Harvard Law School
“We have captured 689 [members of Al Qaeda] and handed over 369 to the United States. We have earned bounties totalling millions of dollars. Those who habitually accuse us of ‘not doing enough’ in the war on terror should simply ask CIA how much prize money it has paid to the government of Pakistan,” boasts General Musharraf on page 237 of his autobiography. Who were these 369 Al Qaedians and how many of them are citizens of Pakistan, the general doesn’t state. Was Dr Afia Siddiqui amongst them? Did she fetch the general hefty prize money for being kidnapped from Karachi in 2003 under the watchful eye of his regime and transported to the US penitentiary in Bagram? Can a government indulge in a trade more reprehensible than trafficking citizens?
The general further states in In the line of Fire (page 238) that “the policy followed by Pakistan on the extradition of foreigners has been first to ask their countries of origin to take them back. If a country of origin refuses (as is normally the case), we hand the prisoner over to the United States.” Whence did the general derive this authority to script his own extradition policy? Did no one tell this man – who, to the misfortune of our troubled land and its battered populace, has been at the country’s helm for too long – that in Pakistan the extradition of citizens and foreigners alike is governed by a law called The Extradition Act, 1972? This law mandates that “every fugitive offender shall be liable to be apprehended and surrendered in the manner provide in this Act.”
Under Section 6 of the Extradition Act a foreign state must requisition the Pakistani government for the surrender of a fugitive offender. To pursue the request, the government must order a judicial inquiry into the extradition offense to be conducted by a magistrate pursuant to Section 7. Under Section 11, if “the federal government is of the opinion that the fugitive offender ought to be surrendered” in view of the enquiry conducted by the magistrate under Section 8, “it may issue a warrant for the custody and removal of the fugitive offender and for his delivery at a place and to a person to be named in the warrant.” While the Pakistani government has the right to simply refuse a foreign state’s extradition request without even ordering an enquiry, it has no authority whatsoever to hand a prisoner over to the US without abiding by the judicial due process.
It is not that Pakistan and the US do not have a sufficient basis for exchanging fugitives under the formal extradition framework. The two countries also have a treaty arrangement too. An extradition treaty was signed between the US and the UK in London on Dec 22, 1931, and its provisions were extended to British India from March 9, 1942. As a successor state Pakistan inherited the treaty obligations. And after the Extradition Act entered into force on Feb 20, 1973, the Pakistani government formally endorsed the US-UK treaty for being in operation in Pakistan, in accordance with Section 3(1) of the Extradition Act. But why should the US bother to go through a formal extradition process with all its attendant procedural and substantive protections (read inconvenience) when the Pakistani government is more than pleased to sweep up citizens and foreigners alike in the name of fighting terror and cart them off to secret US detention centres across the globe?
It is true that the Bush administration has singlehandedly run into dirt the image of the US as a friend and advocate of rule of law. Human rights and civil liberties groups within the US are dismayed at the post-9/11 legislative acts and executive policies of the Bush administration and the substantive harm they have done to erode established standards of human rights protections around the globe. The infamous Patriot Act is one such measure. On Nov 13, 2001, President Bush passed the Military Order – “Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against terrorism” – under which non-US nationals can be meted out military justice at the president’s discretion: tried in a military court devoid of ordinary procedural protections; detained in conditions prescribed by the Secretary of Defence; and with no right of appeal before any court of law.
Thus in its post-9/11 madness. The US has deliberately introduced discrimination within its justice system on the basis of nationality. What won the Bush administration almost as much disrepute domestically and around the world as the Patriot Act/Military Order was the leaked Torture Memo drafted by the US Department of Justice to advise the Bush Administration and the CIA. It stated that the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment implemented under title 18 of the US Code “prohibits only the most extreme acts by reserving criminal penalties solely for torture and declining to require such penalties for cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Torture was defined as physical pain “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”
Would parading alien prisoners naked or even their rape in US penitentiaries amount to torture? Not under the legal advice rendered by the Department of Justice in the Torture Memo. The US laws and policies specially contrived to persecute non-US nationals is a matter of record, as are narratives of appalling abuses carried out with impunity in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo under the Bush administration. Civilized countries have protested these despicable US laws and practices and also exhibited reluctance to extradite even foreigners to the US due to the knowledge that their basic rights will stand prejudiced post-extradition. But even in its deranged terror-phobic mode, the US has restricted itself to abusing and torturing non-nationals only.
One thing the Musharraf regime cannot be held liable for is nationality-based discrimination. The Afia Siddiqui case highlights the Musharraf regime’s policy of trafficking citizens and foreigners alike, oblivious to all legal and moral constraints.
Why fault the Bush administration for torturing Dr Siddiqui and denying her fundamental rights? Did President Bush swear an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the citizens of Pakistan? The crucial question is not whether Afia Siddiqui can be tried in the US after being arrested in Afghanistan, but who ordered her kidnapping from Karachi and transportation to the Bagram prison in 2003 and who all in Pakistan are complicit in this illegal and shameful act. One of the most fundamental promises of our Constitution stated in Article 9 is that “no person shall be deprived of life or liberty, save in accordance with law.” Article 10 further guarantees that no person shall be arrested and detained for a period of over 24 hours without being produced before a magistrate.
Dr Afia Siddiqui has been denied these fundamental rights and so have hundreds of others who have been missing for years. How do our rulers sleep at night when they reign over a state that treats its own in the fashion that we have treated Afia Siddiqui and other missing persons? In face of such disgrace and illegality being perpetrated by the executive, can the judiciary pursue a conscientious course of action other than that being followed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary—i.e., to require law enforcement agencies to account for disappeared citizens and plug their trafficking? The people of Pakistan and the PPP-led government must do all they can to highlight the atrocities that have been committed against Afia Siddiqui and provide her all the assistance she needs in defending herself against fabricated US charges – right out of a badly scripted movie.
But Dr Siddiqui’s life, liberty and dignity would not have been at the mercy of the US had she not been wronged by the Musharraf regime in the first place. There is no point directing all our ire against the Yanks when it is actually our saviours at home who are culpable in the first resort. Did Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi feel no shame while shedding crocodile tears in the Parliament over the treatment being meted out to Afia Siddiqui, despite the fact that she was kidnapped and hauled to Afghanistan under his government’s watch. Instead of passing hollow resolutions against the US to reclaim the nation’s honour, the parliament should (a) order an inquiry into the kidnapping of Afia Siddiqui, (b) ensure that all other missing persons are accounted for immediately, and (c) include in the charge-sheet against the General his admission of carting individuals to the US in utter disregard of our legal and constitutional provisions.
According to media reports FBI has accepted that Dr. Afia is in US custody and also there are reports that her family is receiving threats from the agencies to step back from the issue but we hope that Dr. Afia’s family will not quit her support and their efforts to give her justice because they are on the right side and inshaAllah they will get justice.
Still not much is clear about the three missing children (also kidnapped by FBI and Pakistani agencies) which is a real issue of concern because no law allows the abduction of one month old or four year old children under any circumstances.
We are with you Dr. Afia and we appeal all the people who are the believers of human rights and justice to support the cause(in any manner they can) to give her justice.
|Woman scientist alive, in US custody(The News)|
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
WASHINGTON: Five years after her disappearance, an MIT-trained Pakistani neuroscientist, accused of belonging to an al-Qaeda cell based in Boston, is alive and in custody in Afghanistan, her family attorney said. “It has been confirmed by the FBI that Aafia Siddiqi is alive,” said Elaine Whitfield Sharp, a lawyer for Siddiqi’s family, who said she spoke to an FBI official on Thursday. “She is injured but alive, and she is in Afghanistan.”
The news sheds some light on one of the most intriguing local mysteries in the war on terrorism. Siddiqi, who lived in Roxbury and studied at Brandeis University as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), disappeared with her three children while visiting her parents in Karachi in March 2003, around the same time the FBI announced that it wanted to question her.
For five years, the US and Pakistani authorities have denied knowing her whereabouts. But human rights groups and Siddiqi’s relatives have long suspected that she had been captured in Karachi and secretly taken into custody.
If Siddiqi was arrested in Pakistan and turned over to the United States, it would highlight a crucial instance of intelligence cooperation between the two countries during a historic low point in their relations.
Earlier this week, US officials accused ISI of actively cooperating with tribal, pro-Taliban militants engaged in killing US troops in Afghanistan. In the White House meeting, President Bush confronted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani with the intercepted phone calls between ISI and the militants.
Marvin Weinbaum, a Pakistan specialist at the Middle East Institute, said Pakistan has a history of reacting to pressure from the United States by publicly revealing that it had captured and turned over high-value terrorism suspects. Usually, such cooperation is kept as secret because of anti-American sentiments.
“But when it suits their purpose to advertise that they are cooperative with the US intelligence, all too often, someone of high profile is revealed to have been captured and turned over,” he said.
On Thursday, an FBI official visited Siddiqi’s brother in Houston to deliver the news that she was alive and in custody, Sharp said, but the visit raised as many questions as it answered. The FBI officials would not say who was holding her or reveal the fate of her three young, American-born children.
“If she is in US custody, they want to know where she is,” Sharp said. “Who has got her? And does she need medical care?” The FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment. Late last week, Siddiqi’s photo still appeared on the FBI’s list of people wanted for questioning.
Military documents declassified in recent years suggest that Siddiqi is suspected of having ties to several key terrorism suspects being held at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre. She is believed to have links to Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and allegedly arranged travel documents for another suspected terrorist. Papers in Guantanamo Bay also indicate that she married Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, an alleged al-Qaeda facilitator, who intended to blow up gas stations or poison water reservoirs in the United States.
The three men were among 14 high-value suspects brought to Guantanamo Bay in 2006 after years of secret detention in CIA prisons in eastern Europe. At the time, Bush said no suspects remained in so-called black sites, but human rights groups contradicted him, saying there were still suspects being held incommunicado at the US facilities such as the Bagram airbase detention centre in Afghanistan.
In a 2006 report, the Amnesty International listed Siddiqi as among a number of disappeared suspects in the war on terrorism. In recent weeks, Pakistani newspapers reported that a lawyer, Javed Iqbal Jaffery, had petitioned a Pakistani court for Siddiqi’s release and vowed to bring her detention to the UN human rights commissioner.
According to the reports, Jaffrey alleged that Siddiqi was jailed in Kabul after being held in Bagram; a British journalist reached a similar conclusion, based on interviews with prisoners released from Bagram.
Sharp said she believes those reports increased pressure on the US and Pakistani authorities to divulge more information. “I do not believe that they just found Aafia,” Sharp said. “I believe that she was there all along.”