As Asia Bibi’s Supreme Court Hearing is about to begin Australian Senator Eric Abetz calls for Time to pressure Pakistan on persecuted Christians

Lyle Shelton (Australian Christian Lobby), Wilson Chowdhry and Senator Eric Abetz

On the eve of a death penalty appeal in Pakistan, Liberal Senator Eric Abetz has joined with the British Pakistani Christian Association and the Australian
Christian Lobby to call for greater scrutiny of Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws.

Asia Bibi was sentenced to the death penalty for committing blasphemy against the Islamic prophet Muhammed by a Pakistani court in 2010. Ms Bibi was
allegedly involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women grew angry with her
for drinking the same water as them.

“The appeal hearing by Pakistan’s Supreme Court today is an acid test for Pakistan’s judicial system. There is no doubt these laws are not only wrong in principle but are abused in a wholesale manner,” Senator Abetz said today.

“The $47 million that Australians supply through their taxes in aid to Pakistan needs to be leveraged to protect the human rights of Christians and other minorities.”

“Apart from Asia Bibi’s case, there is undisputed evidence that Christian women are forced into marriages, suffer rape and other atrocities whilst officials do nothing, and thereby provide a default sanctioning of this cruel and barbaric behaviour. On top of such barbism is the forcible transferring of children from minority groups.”

“The notorious ‘blasphemy’ laws in Pakistan need to become the focus of greater international attention to have those laws repealed and protect Asia Bibi and others from the death penalty.”

“The UNHCR’s incapacity or unwillingness to deal with and assist Pakistani Christian refugees in Thailand is a manner of great concern.” “I congratulate Mr Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association in his efforts to highlight these atrocities around the world,” Senator Abetz concluded.

The Media Release issued by Senator Eirc Abetz this morning. – Not one journalist turned up at Australian Parliament House to cover the story.

British Pakistani Christian association is asking people of good conscience to sign their petition
(click here)

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:

“It is alarming that an Innocent Christian woman could be incarcerated for drinking from the same well as Muslims and asking a theological question that in more liberal societies would cause little or no concern.”

“Asia Bibi has become Pakistan’s most famous blasphemy law victim yet not one Australian newspaper has chosen to cover her plight. The plight of Christians in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and many other Islamic nations is understood by politicians in Australia yet the coverage in national media is limited at best.”

“While the world looks towards Pakistan over the next few days praying for the release of Mrs Bibi that she might be reunited with her husband and five children – few Australians even know her name.  Australian’s are oblivious to the poor human rights in Pakistan or the fact that Australian foreign aid is being directed towards a nation that exhibits clear hatred towards minorities.”

“I hope and pray that with increased knowledge of the implications of Asia’s plight, local communities in Australia push politicians to introduce tighter criteria for the allocation of aid budget to Pakistan, based on improved human rights for minorities living there.

“The fact that Australian foreign aid budget contributes to an education system which inculcates hatred towards minorities through the demonizing and caricaturing of them, should alarm Australian people.  In particular Christians are referred to as spies for the west (despite no evidence), indicating state sponsored, learned hatred for people in the west that is funded by naive countries like Australia, Britain and America.  This is dangerous and is a reason why so many extremists are trained in Pakistan a country which is known to export terrorism.

“Better use of Australia’s foreign aid through earmarking 50% towards improving the disparity between the minorities and the Muslim majority and sharper accountability criteria, could go a long way to improving this situation.  Moreover more nations should use their foreign aid budget to lever reform or abrogation of the notorious blasphemy laws of Pakistan.  If Asia Bibi is hanged for a false blasphemy I would hope that any nation funding Pakistan would withdraw their support and funding.”

Senator Abetz raised a Question to the Senate House yesterday (12th October).  A transcript is provided below:

Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (13:58
): In the few minutes available I thought I would raise the plight of persecuted Christians in Pakistan. Earlier today I had the opportunity of meeting with the Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian alliance in my office and then introduced him to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protect, the Hon. Peter Dutton.

The plight of Christians in Pakistan is great. In relation to the register of countries that persecute Christians, Pakistan is at six—equal with countries such as Syria. I think that highlights the plight that they face. Their women are being raped. Their men are being sold into slavery. It is a tragedy that is unfolding and continuing in Pakistan. We as a nation give well over $40 million—I am not sure if it is $47 million or $49 million—worth of foreign aid to Pakistan. I believe we ought to be saying to the Pakistani government: ‘If you want to be the beneficiary of this sort of aid then you do need to protect the minorities within your country.’

I have also invited the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon. Peter Dutton, to consider what we can do to assist the Pakistanis who are being persecuted in Pakistan and also those who are living in Thailand, with asylum cards, to rehouse them and to provide a new home for them in Australia. It is a plight that I think everybody in this chamber and this nation should be aware of. It goes right through the spectrum of society—Christian lawyers right down to Christian brickmakers using kilns are being persecuted in the most horrible manner. They deserve our support.