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Falsely accused Zafar Bhatti awaits appeal of life sentence for blasphemy

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The appeal of Zafar Bhatti's life sentence for blasphemy will go to the High Court on 12th of February, during which we hope his conviction will finally be overturned. An early court found there was no evidence to support the charges and reduced the previous death sentence, however they continued to incarcerate an innocent man. His wife has suffered isolation, and abuse in the community.



PAKISTAN



Zafar Bhatti was accused of Blasphemy on 11th of July 2012 with FIR no. 526 under the section 295-C/298-A/109 PPC 25-D Telegraph Art at Police station New Town, Rawalpindi. (click here)

Our BPCA officer spoke to his lawyer Tahir Bashir of CLASS who informed us that the hearing has been set for the 12th February 2019.

An appeal has been submitted in the high court against the decision of session court Rawalpindi for the life imprisonment of Zafar Bhatti.

For 5 years and 6 months Zafar Bhatti has been kept in the Adyala Jail Rawalpindi. BPCA has been following this case since the beginning of the incident.

In the first week of January 2019,  Mehwish Bhatti BPCA officer was asked to write an update about Zafar Bhatti case in that regard, so she called on Nawab Bibi (70-years-old) the wife of Zafar Bhatti.

Mehwish Bhatti said:

"It was distressing to find out after speaking with her that she is going through severe health issues. Recently she developed double pneumonia and there has been no one to look after her and help her recover. Zafar and Nawab have no children and she is advancing in years."


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Because of her grave condition Nawab Bhatti needed to be hospitalised and treated for pneumonia, and following this BPCA helped her in her recovery by keeping her in a safe house.


Nawab shared with us that she has been working as a house maid in three homes run by a Muslim owner and being treated her like an animal.

Despite this abuse she had no choice to continue under inhumane treatment of the owner because she had to take care of her daily needs like her house rent, electricity and gas bills weekly, in addition to the travel expenses to visit Zafar Bhatti in jail, his needs in jail, medicines etc.

BPCA immediately took action and brought Nawab Bibi in our safe house and provided all her the immediate medical treatment for recovery. She needed to be hospitalised and we covered her fees.  Due to the stress, depression and isolation she  had turned weak, pale and sick, but she is showing improvement now 

Frailness due to Nawab Bibi's age limits the work she can do. Her poor health also makes travel to prison difficult and dangerous, but she still visits her husband weekly. Zafar, who is 15 years younger, and would ordinarily be caring for his wife, but is unable to due this prolonged. incarceration that has kept them apart for so many years.  She told BPCA that she and Zafar have a love marriage and they miss each other very much.

Zafar, who is part of a Catholic mission, was a leader of a Christian ministry when he was accused along with his late colleague Ghazala of committing blasphemy by sending a blasphemous message from a SIM card. There is however there is no evidence that this offence ever happened.

The  BPCA team paid for Nawab Bibi's time in hospital and along with the best medical treatment prayed with her daily until she fully recovered.

BPCA lead officer Mehwish Bhatti went along with Nawab Bibi to meet Zafar Bhatti in jail. Mehwish Bhatti said:

"It wasn’t a new experience for me to visit someone accused of blasphemy in jail, as I have been to see Nadeem Masih in Gujrat Central Jail, and though due to security reasons I couldn’t meet Asia Bibi, I also travelled to visit her in Multan Jail.

"Zafar Bhatti was happy to receive my company, and was in good spirits. Even though he is in jail, he was bravely wearing a big cross around his neck. He told us he was proud of what Jesus has done for him by dying on the cross. He also expressed thanks for all BPCA has done for his wife."

Zafar Bhatti said (translation):

"I've been suffering in jail for over 5 years for something I did not do. The isolation and hardship of jail has caused me to develop diabetes.  I was arrested under questionable circumstances, and despite there being no evidence found against me I am still in the jail."

Zafar continued:

"There are many security concerns within jail but I still stand firm in the faith. I believe God will provide justice to me soon." 

There are indeed many safety concerns, to read a report of another man accused of blasphemy who was killed by his security detail in the same jail where Zafar is being held (click here)

All of those working with Zafar and his family were relieved that he was not the one attacked, but no one takes his safety for granted. (click here)


Wilson Chowdhry, said:

"This couple has been suffering for almost six years, and these years of loneliness can never be restored.

"Initially, Zafar was sentenced to death but later a judge commuted this sentence to life in prison, when no evidence of an offence being committed was found.

"Rather than simply acquitting an innocent man, he has been made to languish in a prison cell. This is a travesty of justice that must be remedied."





Zafar and Nawab with their family on their wedding day


BPCA has committed to provide all his needs unless he in the jail and committed to pay for the needs of his wife which includes rent, electricity and gas bills, medical care, a full-time elder caregiver, and travelling cost for the visits to jail.


To donate to the care of this elderly couple as they recover their lives please (click here) .

British Pakistani Christian Association, continues to provide advocacy and humanitarian aid to Christians in Pakistan and the Pak-Christian diaspora. We cannot do it without your help please donate by clicking (here)



Please sign our petition to end Pakistani blasphemy laws (here)



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