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SYDNEY: Australians rally to ask their Government to grant Asia Bibi asylum
Asia Bibi is a Pakistani Christian woman accused of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to death by hanging. She spent eight years on death row, languishing in squalid conditions. The Supreme Court of Pakistan recently exonerated her in late October. However, although she was acquitted, her fate and that of her family still very much rests in limbo. Following the Supreme Court’s acquittal, hordes of extremists took to the streets like lions salivating, calling for the death of Asia Bibi and any of her sympathisers. Two people have already been assassinated in connection with this case, Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer (shot 27 times in the back by his own security detail) and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti.
She is now being kept in an undisclosed location in Pakistan and desperately needs our help. Her situation grows increasingly precarious as the days go by.
The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) chaired by Wilson Chowdhry who is Asia Bibi’s Power of Attorney (and he helped finance her legal defence) are in Australia and they are hosting events around the country. We are kickstarting off in Sydney!
Please come to our peaceful demonstration starting at Parliament House NSW (on Macquarie Street) in Sydney at 12pm today Saturday 24 November. Senate Candidate for the Australian Conservatives, Sophie York, and Chairman of the British Pakistani Christians Association, Wilson Chowdhry, will be speaking at the event. The event will be very peaceful and we will call on the Australian government to grant Asia Bibi and her family and associates safe asylum.
Australian BPCA representative, Lara Hall, comments:
“Australia is noted as being the lucky country and should have a warm and welcoming attitude to persecuted people like Asia Bibi. In fact, we should be honoured to grant her safe haven. Asia Bibi has been found to be completely innocent of any wrong-doing and should therefore be allowed to safely leave the country and lead a happy, nonchalant and free life.
"I think we need to take a stand and protect freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of thought – all treasured values within our liberal democracies. I also believe that people of all faiths should unite behind Asia and should call for her safe asylum. Now is the time for unity, strength and for us to take a bold and audacious stance against those who attempt to repress vulnerable people.
"I would personally be very happy to hear if Australia grants political asylum to Asia Bibi and her family. We should see it as an honour to have her in our country and to protect her and keep her safe so she can lead out a happy and peaceful existence.”
BPCA Chairman, Wilson Chowdhry, states:
“Asia Bibi has suffered tremendously. She was wrongfully incarcerated for eight years, largely in solitary confinement, and she now faces being thrown to the hordes of lions of wolves calling for her blood if we fail to act to protect her.
"When Malala Yousafzai required asylum many countries in the West gladly and expediently extended invitations to her and her whole family so that they could safely exit Pakistan. We believe the same should be offered to Asia. We would love for Australia, a country often lauded for its human rights record, to condemn the extremism which has victimised so many people, including Asia Bibi and welcome her with warm arms.
"We should no longer capitulate to extremists and we should take a bold and tenacious stance against extremist ideologies which threaten to seriously undermine our rights and freedoms. We call on the Australian public to petition the government to grant Asia and her family safe asylum. Australia would be reputed as a leader in human rights for doing so.”
Please we entreat you to come along and be part of our peaceful vigil to save an innocent woman her family. We must all stand behind Asia. Now is the time for unity. People of all faiths welcome. Please meet us at the NSW Parliament House at 12pm Saturday 24 November.