Pakistan: Asia Bibi the Christian mother of five who is facing a death penalty and his been incarcerated for five years, was devastated on discovering her Appeal Hearing has been cancelled today.
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This is now the fifth deferment of Asia Bibi’s appeal against the false blasphemy charges that have ruined her life and devastated her family.
Advocate Mushtaq Gill said;
“We have concerns about those who are languishing in jails due to their faith including Asia Bibi and innocent Sawan Masih, but the mob of extremists who burnt Christian homes including Churches in Bedami Bagh, Lahore are walking free without punishment.”
Recently,a man accused of blasphemy,Khalil Ahmed was shot dead by extremists.He was killed by teenage boy while in police detention, hours after he was arrested.It was the second murder involving the blasphemy issuelaws within this month. Human rights activist Rashid Rehman was also shot dead while he was sitting in his chamber.His murderers have not yet been apprehended despite, reports that he named those who threatened him.
Mushtaq Gill added;
“This is a country where a judge had to flee abroad after convicting murderer of governor Salmaan Taseer. In fact, the blasphemy law has become an instrument of persecution even against those who defend the accused.”
Human Rights activists in Pakistan believe the current climate for minorities has reached a Nadir.
Mustaq Gill said;
“We are in arguably one of the worst times ever to be a religious minority in Pakistan.We are seeing unprecedented levels of marginalisation and violence against religious minorities in Pakistan under the umbrella of the blasphemy law .How we can think about religious liberty ,freedom of thought and expression if there is law which discriminate and that is safeguard of only particularly religion and its faiths;and where no fair trial and unfair detainment just because of having difference of faith.These words are only in written form that we are all born free and equal but in reality practice is different.“
“The state is stamped with a religion and is constitutionally called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.We Christians and other religious minorities seek advice on what to do about it? We demand a secular state in which we all can enjoy equal rights and be treated equally before the law.We wish to promote peace and religious harmony in Pakistan but how it can be possible under the influence of religious extremists.This is a major problem, which the state has to take seriously.”
Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA was disappointed at hearing news of this further delay. He questioned the validity of the law courts and the intentions of a Government unwilling to offer presidential pardon for Asia, a long term victim of draconian laws. He said;
“It is evident to me that the law courts of Pakistan are unable to uphold truth and justice. Whether it is fear of reprisals or simply extremism that is preventing judges form presiding over this appeal trial, matters not. The simple truth is that international conventions are being breached, and Asia Bibi is not being given her basic human right to a fair trial.”
“It is time for the the Government of Pakistan to accept their responsibility to care for this persecuted citizen. The president of the country should immediately pardon Asia and allow her the freedom and protection she deserves.“