Pakistan’s Foreign Office has lodged a formal complaint with US authorities after it came to light that imprisoned Pakistani-born neuroscientist Dr Aafia Siddiqui had been attacked by a fellow inmate at Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. Siddiqui is a US citizen who is serving an 86-year sentence ofon charges of shooting at military and FBI personnel while she was in US in custody in Afghanistan.
FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that Pakistani authorities learned of the assault on Siddiqui on the 30th of July.
The assault on her, reportedly by a fellow inmate, was first brought to light by CAGE, an independent organization that campaigns against discriminatory state policies and advocates for due process and the rule of law.
According to a CAGE statement, “Shocked by the violent assault and in excruciating pain, Dr Siddiqui curled into a fetal position to protect herself. She was unable to get up after the assault and had to be taken out of the cell in a wheelchair.”
Moreover, Siddiqui was quoted as saying, “The fact that I’m not blind is a miracle from Allah.”
Her lawyer Marwa Elbially, who has been allowed to visit her since January 2021, said:
“During my last visit with Dr. Siddiqui I was shocked to see visible burns around her eyes, an approximately 3 inch scar near her left eye, a wound on her right cheek covered in toothpaste and a small piece of paper, and bruises on her right arm and legs. Moreover, she was in an orange jumpsuit as she had been placed in the administrative unit. It is important that we receive reassurance that Dr. Siddiqui is not punished for being a victim of a vicious assault and is safe from future attacks.”
Pakistani diplomatic authorities took up the matter with the United States government – both on the level of the consulate in Houston, Texas, and the embassy in Washington D.C. The Pakistani consul-general in Houston visited Siddiqui to find out about her wellbeing, where he found that she “had received some minor injuries but was doing fine.”
The Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson noted that diplomatic authorities are “making every effort to ensure that Dr Siddiqui is properly looked after during her incarceration at FMC Carswell.”