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Yet more humiliation in store for Dr Aafia

ISLAMABAD: After passing five years in detention, reportedly at the Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, the ill-fated Pakistani woman, Dr Aafia Siddiqui, would be again subjected to continuous humiliation at the Metropolitan Detention Centre (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York, in the name of ‘strip search’.

According to the attorney of the detained Pakistani doctor, strip checking amounts to searching the body of a naked prisoner so as to check that the prisoner has not hidden anything in his or her body.

Though the American government has allowed two attorneys of Dr Aafia Siddiqui to meet her in the detention centre, the authorities are stressing for her strip search every time she would meet her attorneys, Pakistani diplomats or her family members as and when allowed.

A letter written by Dr Aafia’s counsel, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, on behalf of the detained Pakistani woman, to Husain Haqqani, the Ambassador of Pakistan to the US, reveals that the Americans have stressed the need for strip search of Dr Aafia every time she would meet some one but the Muslim lady from Pakistan has refused to undergo such humiliation.

Dr Aafia’s counsel wrote to Husain Haqqani that, “I write to you on behalf of Aafia Siddiqui, PhD, a 36-year-old Muslim woman and Pakistani citizen, who is in pre-trial detention at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn, New York. Dr Siddiqui is not allowed by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BoP) to have contact visits, that is, she is not allowed to come into physical contact with anyone.”

“Despite this, the BoP and staff at the MDC are insisting that Dr Siddiqui endure the humiliation of a so-called ‘strip search’ each and every time one of her lawyers come to visit her for purposes of defending her in the United States District Court on criminal charges.”

The lawyer described the strip search: “The inmate is required to be stripped naked and checked to find he/she is not hiding anything on his/her body.” “I think you will agree that this type of strip search is not only humiliating and degrading but is also offensive to a woman who is a devout Muslim, as is Dr Siddiqui.”

The counsel on behalf of the detained doctor wrote, “Because it is so offensive, Dr Siddiqui is now refusing to undergo this ‘procedure’ and because she will no longer consent, she is now forbidden from having a contact visit with her attorneys.”

Elaine Whitfield mentioned that on August 8, Gideon Oliver, Esquire, who is working with Attorney Elizabeth Fink, and she herself, went to the detention centre to visit Dr Aafia but could not gain access to their client for an attorney-client visit. “In addition, neither you (Husain Haqqani) nor any representative of the Pakistani government will be permitted to visit Dr Siddiqui to perform your diplomatic duties so long as she will not consent to a strip search.”

The lawyer suggested to the ambassador: “I write to you to implore that you demand, in the strongest terms, that the United States government Bureau of Prisons and Metropolitan Detention Centre employees cease and desist the practice of strip searching Dr Siddiqui which, in her case, is totally unnecessary because she is not allowed to have contact visits with her attorneys, or anyone else, anyway. Dr Siddiqui has been through a horrendous time and this is adding to the colossal emotional distress already inflicted on her by the United States in Afghanistan for five years and in Pakistan when she was abducted in 2003.”
Source: The News

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