Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Pakistani Consulate in Manchester to call for freedom for Asia Bibi, Pakistan’s long suffering and most famous
blasphemy law victim.
The protest was organised by Nelson Catholic Christians and the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) and called on Christians of all diversities
to join the poor Asia’s cause.
Christians arrived to the protest form as far afield as Huddersfield to show solidarity for Asia and many other persecuted Pakistani Christians.
At least 4 of the protesters were from the Polish community who read about Asia’s plight on the BPCA website and desperately wanted to show solidarity
with suffering Christians in Pakistan. One of the polish protesters regularly contacted BPCA to ensure the protest was still going ahead to ensure
that the group were sure about the times and dates of the protest.
The peaceful protest was opened up with a prayer of reflection on the ongoing persecution in Pakistan. Then demonstrated for freedom for Asia
Bibi and for safety, equality and freedom for all minorities in Pakistan.
As the night drew in candles were lit as protesters prayed for change in Pakistan. In closing Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA asked protesters
to hold hands and a final prayer sought God’s divine intervention towards the release of Asia Bibi.
Wilson Chowdhry and Vinny Masih leader of the Nelson Pakistani Catholic Community were invited to submit a petition to the Pakistani Consulate in Manchester.
The BPCA petition is electronic and a flyer with details of our petition and demands for freedom was duly collected by the Secretary to the Consul
General Zahoor ahmed. A letter accompanying the flyer which was also delivered to the UK High Commission for Pakistan in London and the the General
Consulate of Pakistan in Glasgow, called for expedition of Asia Bibi’s Supreme Court hearing – a date for which is expected to be fixed before the
end of March.
At the meeting Wilson Chowdhry spoke of a desire to work with the Government of Pakistan to help improve the quality of life of Minorities living in
the homeland. During the Meeting Mr Chowdhry also sought permission to share a short Easter celebration in the Pakistani Embassy to endear the
large local Pakistani Christian community in Manchester and the surrounding areas with the Consulate and vice versa. The concept was one that
seemed acceptable to the Secretary who agreed to communicate further with Wilson Chowdhry on how to develop this into an event.
Vinny Masih, said:
“I have been praying for Asia Bibi’s freedom for some years now. Since I heard of her plight I have shared her story with as many people as I can in my small capacity, trying to galvanize international support for this innocent women’s freedom.
“I am glad for the platform that British Pakistani Christian Association has created for our minority -it has had a galvanizing influence.
“It is clear to any sane person that Asia is innocent yet Pakistan as a nation has despised her and tortured her. This dims my perception of the land of my forefathers.
“I hope one day I will see Asia free it would be a time of great joy for me and my family. Evidently many families across the world are longing and praying for Asia’s freedom. Please Pakistan do the right thing.”
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
“I am still to be convinced that Pakistan’s Government is serious with it’s voiced commitment to help minorities. I spoke with a very welcoming and professional First Minister at the Pakistani High Commission in London some weeks back. Who agreed to request expedition of Asia Bibi’s Supreme Court Appeal – which it is hoped will now be heard by end of March.
“No concrete assurances have been given with regards to the date of the trial as the judiciary works independently to Government as in most democracies.
“I have been advised that the Government is doing all they can to ensure Asia gets a fair trial and that adequate security measures will be in place to protect all involved in the process.
“The fact that the Government is engaging in this manner is positive and I believe efforts to listen to the concerns of Minorities have improved under the existing regime.
“Only Asia Bibi’s freedom however, can every be considered a successful result from all this campaigning. Anything less will be a further blight on the reputation of Pakistan.”
BPCA is still calling for signatures on their petition for Asia Bibi which has almost 20,000 signatures (click here)
A further protest for Asia Bibi will be held today at the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham:
Date: 18th February 2017
Time: 12:00 – 14:00
Location: Pakistani Consulate,10A, The Wharf, Bridge Street, Birmingham, B1 2JS