Yvonne Ridley's Address in
. October 27th, 2008
. http://draafia. org/2008/ 10/27/yvonne- ridleys-address- in-lahore/
. Bismallah al Rahman al Raheem.
. Brothers and sisters, Assalam alaikum -
. I first came to
9/11 - I am sure every single one of you can remember that day very well.
. It was the dawn of a frightening new era - it was the time when George W
Bush said: You are either with me or with the terrorists.
. Who here is with George W Bush now? Who here stands shoulder to shoulder
with the President of the
. He might be gone from The White House soon, but his rotten legacies will
live on. And one of those legacies is his never-ending War on Terror.
. His War on Terror gave birth to the cages of
where hundreds of our brothers were sold like slaves to the Americans.
. I wish this obscenity had happened somewhere else, but the stark reality
is retired General Pervez Musharraf and his men got rich on the back of this
vile trade - he even admitted it in his autobiography.
. How could Muslims sink so low as to sell their brothers like parcels of
. Because of this an international organisation called Cage Prisoners was
of those brothers held in
. I became one of the patrons of Cage Prisoners and tried to raise awareness
to get justice for our brothers in Islam.
. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe that sisters would also be
swept up in the War on Terror. Never did I ever in my darkest nightmares imagine
they would be brutalised, raped and tortured … but they have.
. I suppose we should not have been too surprised, after all
it seems the
President is totally disinterested in the suffering of others, especially when
it comes to Muslims.
. Muslim blood is cheap as far as the
of blood in
. How did we allow ourselves to sleepwalk into this outrageous state of
. But what still catches my breath is the disinterest expressed by brothers
and sisters across the Muslim world to the plight of sisters … and I am
talking about all corners of the Muslim world, including
country I have grown to love and regard as my second home.
. I salute those dear sisters in Lal Masjid who were mocked and ridiculed
for trying to close down a brothel - they were mocked and ridiculed for their
piety and many of them were martyred as they fought for common decency.
. How did we allow that to happen? How did we sink so low?
. Newspaper columnists here in
their work the Talibanisation of Pakistan.
. Anywhere else in the world they would have been praised as feminists and
as righteous individuals for trying to close down the sex industry which clearly
. But it's not just the heroic sisters from Lal Masjid which brings me
. Five years ago when Cage Prisoners first brought the mystery disappearance
of Dr Aafia Siddiqui to the attention of the media no one listened?
. OK - five years ago few of us believed that the Bush Administration could
really sanction the kidnapping of a mother and her three children.
. I know because I was one of those doubters but what changed for me was my
own journey to
Americans agreed to give me and film-maker David Miller unprecedented access to
the world's most notorious prison - and even more amazingly they let us out
. I am probably one of the few Muslims who flew half way across the world to
. The experience as brief as it was left me shocked – in fact as I left
the maximum security block at
felt. I told him I was speechless, lost for words. He said proudly: Yup,
it's awesome isn't it?
. And that is basically the sentiment in there from the most basic recruit,
through to the medical staff, the psychiatrists, right up to the Rear Admiral.
There is nothing temporary about
when the new man steps into The White House.
. I don't know who will sit in The White House – barak Obama or John
McCain and the
message from Usama bin Ladin. Can you believe it?
. One of the first people I interviewed when I returned home
was brother Moazzam Begg, a British detainee who went through untold atrocities
at the hands of the so-called civilised American military.
. He was kidnapped in the middle of the night from his home
sold to the Americans for 5,000 dollars.
. And while we've spoken many times before this latest interview
triggered something new inside me.
. I had read his book Enemy Combatant and often heard him talk about the
screams of a female prisoner in Bagram but in truth, while I would never
question Moazzam's story, I did assume that what he heard was a series of
pre-recorded tapes performed by actors as part of the CIA/FBI mental torture
. So in this latest interview I threw this theory at Moazzam and he
responded saying he knew the screams were real because other brothers in
were eye witness accounts, brothers who had actually seen the woman detainee.
. Bagram, he said, was far worse than anything in
four Arab brothers escaped from Bagram in July 2005? Did you? Well this is
something the Americans do not want you to know, but they did and when they fled
that hell hole one brother gave an interview to talk about the plight of one
prisioner in particular.
. This prisoner was the woman that Moazzam Begg heard scream throughout the
night, every night without fail. When the Arab brother saw her he said she had
clearly lost her mind. She had been raped, abused and used without mercy by
those dogs in Bagram.
. Her state was so wretched the male detainees in Bagram went on hunger
. Without giving away sources, we soon established that the woman in Bagram
was registered in US intelligence documents as Prisoner 650 - I was horrified. I
suddenly realised that the screams Moazzam had heard were real.
. As you know I was held in
were 10 terrifying days even though I was given the key to lock my own door,
even though my captors always knocked and asked permission to enter my room.
Whenever I needed to use the bathroom, I only had to ask and I was escorted to
the bathroom and a n armed guard remained outside while I washed and showered in
. But no such respect and decency was given to Prisoner 650 - no, this
sister was brutalised. She had to share the same open toilet as the men and
there were no closed doors, or shower curtains when she wanted to wash.
. No wonder Moazzam still hears her cries and screams today.
. I also began to hear her cries and screams and so I came
July to ask for help.
. I turned to Imran Khan, a great politician and a man of integrity - he
agreed to organise a press conference, and was so moved by the mission to find
Prisoner 650. I begged the media to help demand the release of Prisoner 650.
. I pointed out that my story had made headlines and front page news for the
entire 10 days of my captivity when I was captured by the Taliban after 9/11
simply because I am a white, western woman.
. Back in
he submit a series of hard-hitting questions to the British Government, he
released then he and I would go to the gates of Bagram and demand her release.
. It was inevitable that people would assume Prisoner 650 was Dr Siddiqui
and the awkward questions started to be asked after more than 100 media turned
up at our scrambled press conference. A Cage Prisoner report was handed out
giving the wider picture of the disappeared in
. Then suddenly Dr Aafia Siddiqui emerged as though a magician had pulled a
rabbit out of a hat - she emerged in a dazed and confused state outside the
Governor of Gardez's offices in
. Imagine that … FIVE years after her disappearance in
according to the FBI she was carrying in her handbag pieces of bomb-making
equipment and photographs of various landmarks in
. What nonsense and how dare the FBI insult our intelligence this way.
. Of course the FBI lost much of its credibility when its chief J Edgar
be called by the name of Mary.
originator of dirty tricks campaigns, lies and deceits and his legacy lives on.
. Even today it seems FBI Agents live in a fantasy world but instead of
mincing around in red frocks they spend their time dressing up the truth with
layer after layer of lies.
. This was quite evident with the story of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
. It is no coincidence that Cage Prisoners had raised the issue of Dr
Siddiqui less than two weeks before.
. Many of you know Dr Siddiqui's story - she had been shot
soldier at close range after she managed to overpower one of his colleagues and
fire a gun twice. This woman is less than 70 pounds. This story is rubbish.
. I am told she is in constant pain - a testament to the work of the medical
butcher in Bagram air base who calls himself a surgeon.
. But you know what makes this even worse - while our sister lies in agony
waiting to be tried for nonsense charges in an American court, two of her
children, a babe in arms and toddler (at the time of their disappearance) , are
still missing. Where are they?
. And I'll tell you something else which should make your blood run
cold. The Americans have now admitted that the Grey Lady of Bagram does exist.
. But Dr Aafia Siddiqui is NOT Prisoner 650, the Grey Lady of Bagram. We
still do not know who Prisoner 650 is. We do not know where she is, and we do
not know how many other Pakistani women are being held as female enemy
combatants - yes, that is what the pentagon calls them: Female Enemy Combatants.
. Today I am begging each and every one of you, as your sister in Islam, to
help me find Prisoner 650.
. If you remain silent I may never find her. But I tell you something now -
I can hear her screams and when you go to bed tonight so will you.
. Have we all sunk so low that the cries of this sister remain unanswered?
The time has come when the people of
great country. You here today can set the agenda. You here today can make a
change. You here today can get rid of those rotten politicians and their weasel
. Those in power only seem great because they try and keep you on your
knees. Rise up and bow to no one but Allah. When the people lead, the leaders
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