KARACHI: Aafia Siddiqui — The True Story, a documentary by Friends of Aafia, was launched here at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Saturday.

The documentary shed light on various aspects of the life of Dr Aafia from her birth, education, marriage and to her kidnapping in Karachi and confinement in a notorious US prison.

Aafia’s sister Dr Fowzia Siddiqui and Muslim Matters’ Editor-in-chief Hena Zuberi and others spoke at the event.

Dr Fowzia said that her sister Dr Aafia was a gifted child, a bright scholar and a loving and caring person. She got a PhD degree in neurosciences from Brandies University of the US and it was her dream to revolutionise education system in Pakistan.

In the documentary, human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who currently represents Dr Aafia, said a vast majority of the American people had no idea who Dr Aafia was and they also did not care.

He said that she has suffered a lot in the US prison and braved all sorts of torture.

El-Hajj Mauri Saalakhan, the founding president and director of operations at The Aafia Foundation, told the documentary makers that after 9/11, the US targeted the human rights and liberties of people, especially Muslims.

He said Dr Aafia also fell prey to this victimisation and in 2003 she was kidnapped, along with her children, in Karachi and got disappeared on mere suspicion that her husband had bought online night vision goggles.

Umme Muhammad, the president of the Musawemem Campaign, said for the last 15 years she had been linked to the case of Dr Aafia but disappointingly nothing more could be achieved.

She said Dr Aafia was targeted only because she was Muslim.

Yvonne Ridley was amongst the first investigative journalists who told the world that Dr Aafia was jailed in Afghanistan.

Talking about the grey lady prisoner of Bigram jail, she said in those times the US administration would dehumanise the prisoners and the same was done to Dr Aafia. She was wounded by the US soldiers and in injured condition she was brought to the US and tried by a court in a highly biased manner and jailed for long 86 years, which means the rest of her life.

Zeina El-Debis, leader of the Friends of Aafia and founder of the Shade of Mercy Foundation, talked about their efforts to get Dr Aafia repatriated on humanitarian grounds. She said the documentary was also a part of such efforts.

Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2024

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