The petition against Asia Bibi’s acquittal will be submitted to Lahore Supreme Court on 5th November 2018. BPCA is calling on Christians worldwide to pray and world leaders to act quickly to grant asylum to Asia Bibi and all those associated with this case, before Asia is placed on an exit control list and potentially loses the freedom granted in her recent Supreme Court verdict through a challenge made by extremist group Tehreek-e-Lebaaik.
Blasphemy laws and the need for Asia Bibi’s asylum and that of other Pak-Christians’ who have fled to third countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia can no longer be ignored as their persecution is revealed to the world.
The family of Asia and long term guardian Joseph Nadeem are yet to be offered asylum in any western nation despite numerous media reports. This has exacerbated fears for their safety as though an application has been made to release Asia Bibi from her cell which will soon come to fruition, unless she is removed from Pakistan she may find herself on an exit control list (ECL) that would restrict her travel to freedom. Moreover, unable to flee Pakistan the petition to appeal her positive supreme court appal verdict may place Asia back in the cell she has fought so bravely to escape. Asylum simply must be found before her small window of hope is removed from her grasp and she falls into the hands of those who want to kill her:
Those who want Asia Bibi dead include the very young!
Ashiq Masih (55 yrs), husband of Asia Bibi, said:
“Our family was elated by the recent decision to free my wife but news of the governments capitulation to the rioters who ant us all dead has broken our hearts.
“My daughters weep for their mother their hope that they would be reunited has been broken and they are trying to piece together their frail confidence that she will return to them.
“That fundamentalists can cause our government to shift direction, alarms me, but I trust our God will give freedom and peace to Asia – through the prayers of our many millions of supporters who are not violent.
“Jesus loves us and died for us, He will be feeling our pain and will show the world his divine nature by beating these impossible circumstances.”
Eisham Masih (18 yrs), said:
“We have been moving around from home to home staying away from any places where people who hate us could find us.
“Sometimes we have seen and heard the large riots and we have watched as little tv as possible – all it shows us, is how many people hate us and want us dead. We choose to remember the love shown to us in countries outside of Pakistan.
“I have cried for joy when I heard my mother would be set free, I now cry for the despair of our situation only God can save us all and when I pray I have felt his presence at my darkest moments. He will show the world that no worldly institutions can thwart his plans for us.
It is a great concern how international bodies and even some western governments can ignore the ruthless and capricious abuses of human rights in Pakistan, and why after so many years Asia Bibi’s infamously mishandled case was never condemned by the UN.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) begin their preparations for their scheduled meeting next week and accordingly this desire for aid money could be an extenuation of why PM Khan signed an agreement with the extremists (click here)
Islamabad will receive another visit from on the IMF team’s initiative in the coming weeks for discussions of a possible IMF-supported economic program. How timely was the capitulation to rioters on the day that the IMF arrived in Islamabad…
Some believe that the cave in was simply a ruse to end the rioting, which would fit in with the huge number of 250 arrests of rioters that has taken place since the ostensible capitulation (click here)
Wilson Chowdhry said:
“The farce of appeal after appeal, with judges stepping out at the last minute that has gone on for almost 10 years cannot be lost on the World. Why are these human right abuses and these clearly unacceptable blasphemy laws in Pakistan so often ignored?
“Prohibiting her departure from Pakistan means she will never have a moments peace, and makes her a more open target for extra-judicial killing by restricting her movement.
“We call on world leaders to take a stand for truth and justice and open their doors for asylum to Asia Bibi, her entire family, and also the family of Joseph Nadeem their long time guardian.”
With the acquittal of blasphemy victim Asia Bibi it may have been easy to forget that blasphemy laws continue to exist and be supported by the Pakistani government with the full weight of the death penalty.
Timely asylum is desperately needed not only for the family of Asia Bibi, but many others who could still suffer extra-judicial killing but still prosecution by the state for blasphemy allegations. Without the ability to leave the country it seems to be only a matter of time before they find her.
Asia Bibi’s husband has appealed to the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of the UK and Prime Minister of Canada to help his family and their guardian’s family in a video sent to the BPCA:
Joseph Nadeem, guardian to the family, said:
“We require at least ten guaranteed offers for asylum from any country in the west but no-one is offering us any asylum, every embassy we apply to is delaying the process.
“We have committed no crime yet all of us are being treated as pariah’s and every day that we remain in Pakistan we are a day closer to death. Asia will be released soon and she cannot remain in Pakistan it will incite people to hatred and it is imperative that a western nation offers us a safe way out of the country.
“We have lost our lives for the last ten years and have also been living in isolation. We seek refuge in Britain, the US, Canada or Australia countries in which the largest Pakistani Christian diasporas reside – we need the support and fellowship of our community.
“These four countries are preferred as I have a good command of English and Asia’s family have a little knowledge of the language already, this will help us adapt quicker to the demands of a new country of residence.
“We are not objects for display but real human beings and will have to one day become less dependant on others but of course we will accept the first offer of asylum that comes our way – we are desperate.”
“Please Theresa May, Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau, Scott Morrison and others help us flee our captivity.”
“British Pakistani Christian Association have our power of attorney to speak to any officials from nations that would be willing to rescue us from our plight. Please communicate with them.”
BPCA is appealing to the British, American, Australian and Canadian governments for her family and guardian’s family to be given immediate asylum as they need to be urgently evacuated from the situation. We are speaking to leading politicians who have supported the work of the BPCA before.
Asia Bibi’s solicitor has fled Pakistan due to the threats he is receiving (click here) it is therefore ludicrous to not allow Joseph Francis her guardian similar asylum as he has been even more visible.
We must mobilise supporters of Asia Bibi to sign this petition (click here) urging Theresa May Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for foreign affairs in the UK and PM Theresa May to make urgent representation to obtain safe passage to the UK.
The same appeal has been sent to Justin Trudeau PM for Canada, Sott Morrison PM for Australia and President Donald Trump of the US. Asia Bibi has no offer of guaranteed asylum and an embassy they have approached is delaying a decision causing alarm to the family. Read more here (click here)
The family are desperate for funds to help them escape Pakistan, funds required for a new solicitor as Saif Ul Malook has fled Pakistan (click here). Funds for a security detail and for flights and other essentials on arrival to whichever country they are offered asylum. If you would like to donate please(click here)
Wilson Chowdhry continued:
“How long will they play cat and mouse with the life of this innocent woman and her family? How long will they toy with the emotions of Pakistan’s religious minorities and offend the principles of truth and justice?
“The government of Pakistan will get no peace unless they stand up to those who are threatening and intimidating them. Why are the real human rights of minorities outweighed by religious sentiments at the cost of lives?
“Defending a blasphemer is considered itself to be blaspheming by Islamist groups. It appears to us that no country wants to be openly associated with Asia Bibi possibly out of concern for their own citizens.”
Blasphemy victims can lose years of their lives for merely being accused, and the excessive harsh penalties are not warranted against victims, many of whom are targeted simply for being different. Among the many possible examples, it is noted a mentally disabled Pakistani Christian was recently sentences to life in prison for blasphemy. (click here). She was offered immediate asylum by dozens of countries in the west a trend that has not been repeated for Asia Bibi, causing alarm and speculation.
The long years of incarceration for little more than getting thirsty on a hot day and drinking water from the same place her Muslim co-workers did are not erased by the good news about Asia Bibi’s release. Nothing can compensate Asia for the years she has lost and the time with away from her family.
The Guardian rightly headlines: “Quashing of Asia Bibi’s blasphemy charge will not end her suffering” nor will it make religious minorities less likely too suffer violence at the hands of their neighbours. Attacks in the last year have moved from village panchayats to institutions like hospitals, and schools. (Click here)and(here)and(Click here)and (here).
In the UK many notable and praiseworthy advocates have raised concern for Asia Bibi and the EU has also formally addressed her case on various occasions. Bipartisan concerns have However lately subdued formerly active allies in this International human rights concerns, such as Canada, whose lackadaisical approach was raised in one Canadian publication The National Post as “bewildering silence”. (click here)
In addition expected allies, such as the UN and other international bodies, have similarly been called out in print – they were decried for not been vocal about condemning blasphemy laws either. Earlier this week an opinion piece was written in the Washington Examinerasking the question:
“If the U.N. does not stand for Asia Bibi, then what on earth does it stand for?”
The writer prefaced it by saying:
“It is disillusioning, to say the least, that the U.N. will readily speak up in defence of a woman’s religious right to cover her face, but remain utterly silent when a woman’s very life hangs in the balance because of her own faith.”
Though we hope this is changing and will change the UNHCR in places like Thailand who have oft rejected legitimate asylum seekers and refugees as not credible because of a translator who would rather not express the details fairly, a belief that there is no persecution only discrimination for Christians in Pakistan and quota limits for refugees enacted to not embarrass either Pakistan or the host country.
To purchase and read a publication about the challenges Pak-Christian asylum seekers face in this regards (click here).
When it comes to Pakistan the harsh implementation of the death penalty is also never brought up at the UN – a subject often brought up with the United States where it is used only for crimes involving premediated murder and is deemed unduly harsh.
The UN, who has not condemned blasphemy laws, did however condemn France’s restrictions on the niqab in public places as a slap against religious freedom.
There have been independent calls for condemnation of the current Pakistani administration’s support of their blasphemy laws presented to the UN, perhaps most recently by Director of Advocacy Elizabeth Casey of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEP) at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, to read the full story (click here). However there has been no UN resolution condemning blasphemy laws.
We must mobilise supporters of Asia Bibi to sign this petition
(click here) urging Theresa May Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for foreign affairs in the UK to make urgent representation to obtain safe passage to the UK.
The same appeal has been sent to Justin Trudeau PM for Canada and President Trump. Asia Bibi has no offer of guaranteed asylum and an embassy they have approached is delaying a decision causing alarm to the family. Read more here (click here)
Please sign our petition calling asylum for Asia Bibi (click here)
Please sign our petition calling for termination of UK Foreign aid to Pakistan (click here)
British Pakistani Christian Association, continues to provide advocacy and humanitarian aid to Christians in Pakistan and people of Britain. We cannot do it without your help please donate by clicking (here)