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Pakistani prisoners in Santiago

Caring, honest, confident and hard working, these are the words that rightly define the innocent young Pakistani student who has become a prisoner in Santiago. From coming this far in quest of learning, to working hard in tourism and hospitality, Saif has always made his parents and family proud.

During his college years at University College of Islamabad (UCI), he had proven to be successful in creating fascination in the said institution. He was praised by college staff and fellow students in general and by his principal Catalina Alliende who is a Chilean and also happens to be the honorary Chilean visa consular in Islamabad. She motivated and recommended Saif to proceed to Chile as a suitable place to excel in his career. Saif highly respects Miss Catalina for her support and mentoring. Saif arrived in Chile in January 2010 and started his education at a prestigious institute in Santiago. Things were normal, however what followed after May 07th phone call from the US embassy is nothing short of a nightmare!

His caring and friendly attitude was evident from his enthusiasm in helping fellow Chileans in the earth quake relief efforts after the devastation caused by the earthquake earlier this year. Humanity always came first for a person like Saif. He was hardly ever interested in politics and never wants to engage in any. Therefore, it is beyond doubt and remotely understandable why the Chilean authorities continue with their vile accusations against him. This is complicated by the fact that the whole case even after five months is still being “built” without any evidence and proofs. Even 150 days were not enough to “build a case against Saif? This speaks volumes about the flimsiness of the claims against him that they could not stand in the court of law. Simply based on presumptions, new stories are carved and brought in the honorable courts. No doubt, till now the judgments have generally been in favor of Saif. His innocence and the fact that his human rights are being violated is also proven by the fact that Saif was released from high security detention center after five days in May. What is frustrating is the fact that precious time has been taken away from Saif as his educational career is compromised. A student of his age does not deserve such grave injustice especially in a civilized country!

Following the case closely reveals that the accusations become stranger and outrageous by the day. In the initial stages, Saif was accused of having links with illicit groups inside and outside Chile. Later, the mantra changed to new baseless and often laughable accusations about him being involved with some indigenous anti-state elements. The court rightly rejected all claims by the accusers as they were no more than a mockery of justice and a waste of court’s time. The Chilean interior minister tried his best to apply the anti-terrorism act on Saif, which too was rejected by the honorable court. It is amazing that someone would go to that extent against a person who is allegedly found with traces of a chemical substance that could have come from anywhere in the environment especially in a city rebuilding after a devastating earthquake. The defeat and humiliation caused to the Chilean authorities by their own acts of injustice have made them more desperate for a face-saving and somehow crossing the limits of sanity in hatching new accusations.

To aid their innocent son, Saif parents have been in Santiago since four months and in a way are also suffering at the hands of open discrimination and injustice at the hands of Chilean authorities especially the interior minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter. Mr. Hinzpeter seems to be in the grip of anti-Muslim bias and paranoia causing immense inconvenience, slander and a terrorism phobia mainly directed at the peaceful and law-abiding Muslim community in Chile.

There is no intention whatsoever to point fingers at anyone. However, there are so many unanswered questions which make any person question the intention of the authorities.

  1. Why was Saif called to the US embassy in Chile? He already had 5 years US visa, was in the US in January and had no intention of being at the embassy. He was called in an unprofessional way and then the whole issue emerged.
  2. Why was Saif declared by the Chilean authorities as a “terrorist” simply because some accusations were laid by a private security agency that he had TRACES of some explosives on his documents? Let alone an apology, since there was no clarification from the accusers, this can only be understood as a generally prevalent Islamophobia. The very negative label is enough to destroy the image and life of a law-abiding innocent student.
  3. Why did authorities try to accuse Saif of having links with illicit groups, whom neither Saif nor his family has any idea of?
  4. At the end of May, when the prosecutor wanted to drop the charges against Saif, why was he replaced with a new prosecutor? In addition, the replacement of the US ambassador in Chile, the FBI chief in Chile and other officials in positions of authority raises many questions.
  5. The ever-changing accusations and the stance of the accusers is nothing less than a mockery of justice. Would any sincere individuals in positions of authority ever do such acts to tarnish the image of an innocent student belonging to a particular religion and nationality?

We ask the world community and the human rights organizations to take notice of this grave human rights violation.  We are confident that truth will ultimately prevail.

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