Discussion: Ex-congresswoman, rights activist question US justice system

Published: December 5, 2012

Sara Flounders, political and human rights activist and Cynthia Mckinney a former six-term US congresswoman at the discussion panel. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: 

An interactive session on the dynamics and practices of the US justice system turned into criticism on US foreign policy, the trial of Aaafia Siddiqui and the American prison-industrial complex.

Cynthia McKinney and Sara Flounders spoke at the Institute of Policy Studies here on Tuesday. They expressed concern over the treatment meted out to Aafia by US authorities and labelled the US criminal justice system as the “injustice system.”

Aafia was sentenced to 86 years on February 3, 2010. She was found guilty on seven counts, including attempted murder. She is currently being held at an American maximum security prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

Flounders, a political and human rights activist, said there were no victims or evidence in the Aaafia Siddiqui case. “The five years Aafia was believed to be held captive were not even considered during the trial,” she added.

“This is an important issue in so many ways because it is a case that has come to personalise in the deepest sense the US-Pakistani relations,” she noted, adding “the [86-year] sentence is beyond the capability to imagine in a case where there are no victims.”

Sara Flounders,

Both Flounders and McKinney said the prison system in the US has turned into a growth industry and has become profitable, much like the weapons industry. Flounders said the US has the largest prison population with over 2.3 million people caught up in the prison system at some level.

McKinney, a former six-term US congresswoman and a peace activist, believes that the 1968 assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F Kennedy might have been engineered by American intelligence agencies. She said the assassinations caused setbacks to a number of people’s movements which were active in the US at that time. “If that was the case in 1960s, what do you think such a government is capable of doing in the 21st century?” McKinney said.

Flounders said the levels of domestic repression and militarism abroad have become enmeshed. “Wars are causing destruction in planetary terms,” she said. Responding to a question, she said there were three possibilities for Aafia’s release: adoption of a multilateral prisoner transfer treaty, bilateral prisoner exchange programme and direct diplomatic negotiations. But she said the Pakistani government has never formally asked for the release or return of Aafia.

Both speakers

Participants at the discussion, most of them lawyers, were interested in why the justice system in the US appears to have failed. The speakers suggested it might be because the US has failed to effectively deal with race-relations and that some of the slavery-era laws have continued to this day.

But they pointed towards the Occupy movement, saying there were people’s movements emerging in the US again despite government crackdowns. “As long as there is spirit of resistance, there is hope,” McKinney said.

Akram Zaki, former envoy, chaired the discussion. In his closing remarks, Zaki said the US has “a declaratory policy for high principles” and “an operational policy for low objectives.” He claimed that the distinction between the two policies was abolished during George Bush Sr.’s time in office, when underground operations became supreme policies for the US.

“The human spirit has never accepted tyranny,” Zaki said, adding the public need to keep building the spirit to such strength that it overwhelms injustice.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2012. 

Reader Comments (6)

  • Roti, kapra aur..
    Dec 5, 2012 - 3:27PM

    .. and the truth will find hearts in every land

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  • Roti, kapra aur..
    Dec 5, 2012 - 3:28PM

    Still our LFs will label Aafia as a terrorist

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  • Kaalchakra
    Dec 5, 2012 - 10:37PM

    The truth cannot be hidden. I am glad that these two ladies have spilled the beans about no evidence against Sister Aafia. But many in Pakistan will continue to believe that Sister Aafia must have done something wrong. Oh Allah, why don’t you open their closed hearts and fill them with your Truth?

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  • S. M. Rabbani
    Dec 11, 2012 - 12:44AM

    The two honourable American ladies involve themselves in this case and they both are so worried about this injustice and pressing hard Pakistan govt. to deal this case seriously with American Govt. they are I think optimistic that AAFIA will be released within no time. Now this case is at this time I become an International case and the whole world is watching this case in terms of JUSTICE/
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  • MUZAFFAR
    Dec 11, 2012 - 12:49AM

    We welcome the two honourable American Ladies who bothered to find out the facts regarding impronment of AAFIA SIDDIQUI. Due to their struggle this case is be come an International Law Suit in terms of JUSTICE. If govt. of Pakistan would take up this case seriously that no wonder AAFIA SIDDIQUI is released and she could prove her innocence.

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  • Muzaffar Rabbani
    Dec 11, 2012 - 12:53AM

    We welcome these two honourable American Ladies who bothered to find out facts of AAFIA SIDDIQUI case. Due to their struggle this case is now become an International Law Suit and law experts may find some clue behind the sentense of 86 years impresonment. These two honourable ladies are optimistic if govt. of Pakistan would have taken this case seriously no wonder AAFIA SIDDIQUI was released.

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