The family of Pakistani political prisoner Dr Aafia Siddiqui has confirmed that reports of her death are a hoax. Rumours doing the rounds on social media on Tuesday claimed that Dr Aafia had died in prison. No details were given as to the circumstances around her alleged death.
In response, her sister Dr Fowzia Siddiqui said the rumours being spread are extremely painful to the family and agonising for the millions of supporters worldwide.
“We have no means of verifying the authenticity of this outrageous news or of knowing how Aafia is. It is the duty of the government to verify or refute these rumours, so that we as a family can rest assured and supporters can be calmed down,” she said in a statement.
The Aafia Movement has been flooded with phone calls from emotionally charged supporters. Dr Fowzia said it is the duty of the government not only to verify or refute the claims but if the news is wrong, to trace the culprits and take action. She further said that no government person has responded to their queries in this regard.
“Their silence is disappointing and painful. This attitude smells of a malicious conspiracy of the power corridor. The timing… when an international movement was resonating throughout the world and rattling the power corridors…this rumour may be an intention to demoralise the millions of supporters worldwide.”
According to the family, such news was spread previously also and turned out to be false. Inaccurate information has added much grief to the family and appears to be a “deliberate attempt” to sabotage the movement for Aafia’s release.
Dr Aafia’s story is a tragic one of extraordinary rendition, torture, kdnapping and abuse.
The neuroscientist is currently serving an 86-year prison sentence at a U.S. federal prison at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth. The official charges against Dr. Aafia are that she assaulted U.S. soldiers in Ghazni, Afghanistan, with one of the servicemen’s own rifles, while she was in custody to be interrogated by them. Dr Aafia was shot and survived surgery in the infamous prison in Bagram, Afghanistan.
To this day, Dr Aafia has not been charged with terrorism. She has become known as the “Gray Lady of Bagram” and “Prisoner 650”
Her current state remains uncertain, but its been reported that her health has deteriorated over the years.
The Islamabad high court has ordered the government to give a weekly report of Aafia’s wellbeing and provide means for family to meet with her however the government remains in contempt of the courts orders.
“The time has come that we stand united for the daughter of the nation and bring her home. FMC Carswell where Aafia is incarcerated is known for its horrendous abuses and mysterious deaths and so these rumours cannot be taken lightly,” the statement concluded.
A representative for the South African branch of the Free Aafia movement said he was trying to confirm the accuracy of the reports. VOC News made several calls to Dr Fowzia on Tuesday, but she could not be reached for comment. VOC