Tag: Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi begins her appeal trial today: Prayers requested

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Asia Bibi

Dear all,

Today (13th October) at 9am Pakistan time, Asia Bibi begins her appeal trial at the Supreme Court of Pakistan located in Islamabad.

We are asking all our members to pray for her to be set free and to attain safety in a country in the west. A simple prayer but one that encompasses her basic needs for now.

British Pakistani Christian Association does not believe a decision will be made in court today. Even then our officer Shamim Masih will be in attendance and will immediately send us the result which we will share with you in real time, if necessary.

You can still sign our petition for Asia Bibi which will be in the hands of the Pakistani Government today. Our petition calls for Asia Bibi to be protected, for her to receive a fair trial and for President Mamnoon Hussain to do the right thing and pardon her if the law courts fail to uphold justice. If you have not signed it (click here) Please share our petition with others and see if we can reach 15,000 signatories or above.

Asia Bibi’s plight triggered the publication of our first ever book on persecution in Pakistan, a copy of which can be purchased (here). Since then we have written several further reports. Our latest report which will also be dedicated to Asia Bibi is to be launched in UK Parliament on the 1st of November 2016 at 1pm. If you would like a free invitation to attend please email us by clicking (here).

Wilson Chowdhry has met with several Politicians at the Australian Parliament House in Canberra. During a five hour series of meetings with politicians including Senator Eric Abetz, Senator David Fawcett, MP Kevin Andrews, MP Andrew Hastie and Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton, he discussed the potential for a quota for 100 Pak-Christians per year being given asylum in Australia. Wilson is now in communication with Tom Fleming (Senior advisor) and Craig Maclachlan (Chief of staff) at the Australian Ministry for Immigration who will be sharing existing streams for migration that could assist those wishing to flee Pakistan and those stranded in countries such as Thailand where they are re-persecuted. Moreover, we are working towards being included on the existing programme for Community Sponsorship, that will allow BPCA to act as a conduit for refugees with a quota restricted to 100 applicants. Read full story below this introduction.

We are collecting donations for Asia Bibi and her family to help support them after they seek asylum in a new country. The funds will help them with heavy costs involved with re-establishing their lives outside of Pakistan. We do not believe any western nation would refuse them entry should Asia Bibi be exonerated. The funds will enable us to continue to help the family after Asia Bibi is set free – a decision that is long overdue. If you would like to donate to our work please (click here)

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” Isaiah 46:4

Mr Wilson Chowdhry
Chairman BPCA  (British Pakistani Christian Association)

 

Update – Lunchtime 13 OCT 2016 – From Church in Chains

 

PAKISTAN: Supreme Court adjourns Asia Bibi’s appeal
13th October, 2016

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Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, outside the court

Asia Bibi’s long-awaited appeal against her conviction for blasphemy was adjourned today in Pakistan’s Supreme Court in Islamabad after one of the three judges recused himself from the case.

Asia was not in court for the appeal hearing but her husband Ashiq Masih was (picture shows him outside the court). The adjournment came after Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman told the court he had to recuse himself, claiming a conflict of interest. “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salman Taseer [the Governor of Punjab who was assassinated after supporting Asia Bibi], and this case is related to that,” he told the court. The judges wrote to the chief justice of Pakistan asking him to appoint another judge to the bench.

The Supreme Court did not immediately set a new date for the appeal though one of Asia’s lawyers is hopeful that it may be heard in early November.

There was heightened security in Islamabad with over 100 riot police deployed around the court and over 3,000 members of the security forces on standby elsewhere in the city. On the eve of the hearing, a Muslim extremist group, the “Shuhada Foundation”, said its supporters would take to the streets and would not allow the government to function if Asia were released.

“We are seriously concerned at the efforts for the release of blasphemous Asia Masih and will consider those blasphemous who defend her, whoever they are and in whichever position they are working,” said Hafiz Ehtesham Ahmad, spokesperson for the foundation. He also warned of “serious consequences” if Asia were allowed to go abroad.

Zohra Yusuf, chair of the independent Human Rights Commission in Pakistan, said that the appeal delay was “regrettable”, noting that Asia Bibi was already being held in solitary confinement due to security concerns. The judges may be “apprehensive”, she said, adding that after the Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold Mumtaz Qadri’s death sentence for assassinating Salman Taseer, justices had to sneak out the back door to the court. “It’s a sensitive case. I think they [the judges] have realised that if Asia Bibi [is] acquitted, they may be putting their own lives on the line,” Yusuf said.

(AFP, Express Tribune, Release International)

Reacting to the news, David Turner (Director, Church in Chains), stated: “We are very disappointed at the news of today’s adjournment. The judge who recused himself would have been aware of the conflict of interest as soon as he was appointed to the case and action could have been taken at that stage to allow today’s hearing to proceed.

“For Asia Bibi, justice has been delayed yet again and this innocent Christian woman who has languished in prison for 7 ½ years must continue to wait. We encourage our supporters to keep praying for Asia – that she will know that she is not forgotten, that she will know that God is with her and that justice will soon prevail”.



Asia Bibi Needs Your Urgent Prayers for Her Upcoming Hearing Appeal Against Her Death Sentence

Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman and mother of five, has suffered eight years behind the prison bars in the city Multan in Pakistan.

Her final chance for life will be at her upcoming sentencing. Her death sentence will be confirmed on October 12 or 13, 2016. This is the last chance she has to escape the unjust death sentence she was given under Pakistan’s “blasphemy laws”. She is desperate to be reunited with her five children and family again. Her crime? She drank water from the same metal cup meant for Muslims’ use.

Asia Bibi was the only Christian who worked in the berry fields among her female Muslim co-workers in Sheikhupura district of Punjab Province. She was asked to fetch water from a nearby well, which she did, and on the way back drank from the metal cup meant only for Muslims.

Upon this act, the Muslim women insulted her and her faith, stating that Christians are dirty filthy infidels and are not allowed to drink from the same cup. Asia, upon defending her faith said, “I believe in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?” No response, and full of rage, they accused her of blasphemy and the district court of Sheikhupura charged her with a death sentence. Unbelievably, the simple act of drinking from the same cup Muslims use can put a Christian life on the death row!

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The first two weeks of October, in fact the whole month, is very significant for Bibi, her family, and for all the Christians of Pakistan as they wait in prayer for the verdict from the Supreme Court of Pakistan on the case.

Islamist groups are planning to attack her if she is released from the jail. Jamait Ulema, one of the worst extremist groups, has pledged to take the law in its own hand, and to kill her if the Supreme Court releases her. They have offered an equivalent of $10,000 reward for anyone who would execute her, and there are 10 million willing Muslims who would do it.

There is no safe haven for Asia, either in the prison or outside the prison bars. Her health is deteriorating in the bad conditions of the prison, and she is constantly threatened by other inmates with death and poison in her cell.

There is no escape.

Her family has been threatened by numerous radical Muslim groups, and was forced into hiding. Her children cannot leave the shelter for fear of abduction.

Life is not safe for Christians living in Pakistan. Any who dare to question mistreatment by blasphemy law are put to death. Even the Governor of Punjab, Salaman Taseer, was killed by his own security guard, Mumtaz Qadri.

Qadri was highly praised and applauded by extremist Muslims. The Federal Minister of Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhati, was murdered by gunmen in an ambush in his car. Both of these men in high position supported Asia Bibi and paid with their lives.

Christians who voice their persecution know they will likely meet with the same fate. For this reason, many such cases go unreported; victims never see justice, and with the situation never changing to accept the Christian community or allow their faith.

Please urge your members of the US Congress to intervene with the government of Pakistan to push on the release of Aisa Bibi.

The Pakistan government needs moral and legal support from America to stand and fight against the pressure of Islamist groups. Financial Aid could be restricted by US on the grounds of Aisa Bibi’s release or for that matter, for the protection of Christians in Pakistan.

Please also request US to be ready to help arrange the escape of Bibi out of the country, as quickly as possible upon her released from jail. American government does have influence—should it choose to exert it.

Stand alongside Christians in Pakistan in this crucial two weeks of October, and pray for their safety and spiritual strength as they hold protests for Bibi’s case.

Especially pray for Bibi’s lawyer, Khalil Tahir Sindhu that God fills him with courage and strength as he fights for her in the courtroom. This woman is innocent and suffering in jail for eight years for standing up for her faith.

Fervently pray for Bibi’s continuous strong believe in Jesus, her children, husband and her relatives’ protection and faith. Sign petitions and raise awareness about her case among your friends, family and church members so more and more people can join in to pray. Her safe release would signify that justice is done for at least one Pakistani Christian.

Source: Christian Freedom Iternational



ASIA BIBI SUPREME COURT APPEAL DATE SET FOR SECOND WEEK IN OCTOBER

Pakistani Christians pray for her freedom and their safety!

 

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Asia Bibi – will she finally be freed?

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service

Pakistani Christians have expressed great joy and fear after receiving news that Asia Bibi, Pakistan’s most famous blasphemy law victim, will finally have her long awaited Supreme Court appeal hearing during the second week of October.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Anwar Zaheer Jamali, yesterday (Monday, August 22, 2016), ordered the Supreme Court to fix a date in October, the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) were advised by Asia’s solicitor (lawyer).

Asia Bibi’s nightmare back in June of 2009, when she was harvesting falsa berries with a group of mainly Muslim women farmhands in a field in Sheikhupura in Punjab Province. She was asked at one point to fetch water from a nearby well; to which she complied, but stopped to take a drink with an old metal cup she had found lying next to the well.Asia_Bibi_use

A neighbor of Asia, who had allegedly been involved in a running feud with her family about some property damage, saw her and angrily told her that it was forbidden for a Christian to drink water from the same utensil from which Muslims drank, and some of the other workers considered her to be “unclean” because she was a Christian.

Some arguments ensued and Asia recounts that when they made derogatory statements about her religion, she responded by telling them, “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind?”

This incensed the women, and later, some of the workers complained to a local Islamic cleric claiming that she had insulted Muhammad and soon an angry mob came to her house, beating her and members of her family before she was rescued by the police. One report even alleged that she was gang-raped for her alleged crime of blasphemy, was been beaten all the way home, and then her children were later sexually molested.

The police initiated an investigation about her remarks, resulting in her arrest under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code. She subsequently was imprisoned for over a year upon the demands of the local Iman, before being formally charged under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws. Asia Bibi has now been incarcerated since June 2009.

Ms. Bibi denied that she had committed blasphemy and said that she had been accused by her neighbor to “settle an old score”. In November 2010, Muhammed Naveed Iqbal, a judge at the court of Sheikhupura, sentenced her to death by hanging. Additionally, a fine of the equivalent of $1,100 was imposed. With the verdict, she became the first woman condemned to death in Pakistan on blasphemy charges.

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Salmaan Taseer with Asia Bibi, a meeting that is thought to have cost him his life.

Asia Bibi described the day of her sentencing as follows: “I cried alone, putting my head in my hands. I can no longer bear the sight of people full of hatred, applauding the killing of a poor farm worker. I no longer see them, but I still hear them, the crowd who gave the judge a standing ovation, saying: ‘Kill her, kill her! Allahu Akbar! The court house is invaded by a euphoric horde who break down the doors, chanting: ‘Vengeance for the holy prophet. Allah is great!’ I was then thrown like an old rubbish sack into the van… I had lost all humanity in their eyes.”

“Asia Bibi, has always upheld that she will be set free by God’s grace even when it has seemed like there was no chance of freedom,” said a spokesperson for the BPCA. “After a failed appeal at the Lahore High Court on October 16, 2014, many thought freedom was beyond Asia Bibi.

“However, in a pre-trial hearing at Pakistan’s Supreme Court on July 22, 2015, the court suspended her death sentence permitting an appeal. In her appeal hearing Asia intends to ask the court to reconsider deficiencies in the case which include poor investigation and manipulated evidence by the local police.”

The appeal was originally meant to have been held on March 26, 2016, but after the judiciary and Government of Pakistan decided to push through with the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri under anti-terrorism laws they were forced to postpone Asia Bibi’s appeal hearing.

Mumtaz Qadri had admitted to assassinating Salmaan Taseer, the then Governor of Punjab for his stance calling for abrogation of the draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan and freedom for Asia Bibi.

In the wake of Mr Qadri’s death a wave of demonstrations, including 100,000 Muslims encamped during a sit in protest outside Government buildings in Islamabad, where they demanded termination of proposed reforms of the blasphemy laws of Pakistan and death for Asia Bibi.

The government caved in on the law reforms which had passed through Parliament and were to be ratified in the Senate of Pakistan. Many Christians at this point thought Asia Bibi’s chance of freedom had run out and that the government had failed her and other minorities – especially when they postponed her case due to the scale of social schism.

“However,” continued the BPCA spokesperson, “news of the revised date for the appeal hearing has now induced mixed feelings. Many Pakistani Christians believe the date will be postponed again when the Muslim protests for Asia Bibi’s death resume, they still recall the five postponements before Asia Bibi had her Lahore High Court Appeal rejected.

“Moreover, despite their joy and delight that Asia Bibi will have her day in court and a chance for justice, they fear that a community backlash will result in attacks on the innocent Christian communities across the country. Despite their fears every Pakistani Christian stands with Asia Bibi and is praying for her release.”

Whilst in prison Asia Bibi has been forced to cook her own food due to attempts to poison her, whist bullying from other inmates has also meant she is forced to stay in isolation. Last year BPCA reported on her failing health.

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Mumtaz Qadri after his arrest.

This Supreme Court hearing will be the final opportunity for Asia Bibi to gain freedom through the country’s law courts. Failing this she will have to rely on a presidential pardon under article 45 of the Constitution of Pakistan, which states:

45. President’s power to grant pardon, etc.-The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.

Wilson Chowdhry, the Pakistan-born Chairman of the BPCA, said in a message sent to ANS: “Asia Bibi has suffered the injustice of five years’ imprisonment for a made up crime. A cultural faux pas and innocuous comment made while being attacked, led to her being raped, her children being sexually molested, and her arrest under the draconian blasphemy laws of Pakistan for good measure yet no-one else was arrested for the violence to her?

“As a devout Christian she continues to believe that God will free her from her ignominious incarceration. She prays daily and has placed her life and her family before God.”

Mr. Chowdhry berated previous governments for failing to free Asia, adding, “I have spoken to Pakistani government officials and the judiciary. All of them express great shock at the ongoing abuse of her liberty. Yet Asia’s tragedy continues. I have come to the conclusion that all I have been receiving is diplomatic lip service, devoid of passion for justice.

“Asia’s story is one of oppression and discrimination and despite international pressure, statutory authorities and the Government of Pakistan have failed her, just as they have failed all minorities in Pakistan.”

He concluded by saying, “Freedom for Asia Bibi would be a watershed moment in the campaign for justice, equality and freedom for minorities in Pakistan. Previous governments have failed miserably, but I believe the incumbent Government is genuinely attempting to restore the balance. I hope that effective protection is provided to Asia and her family, the judiciary and all persons that could make this latest appeal a success. Any half-hearted approach will undermine Asia’s trial and create a further blight on Pakistan’s reputation.”

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Pakistani Muslims demand the hanging of Asia Bibi.

Still, BPCA told ANS that it expects a “large mob of Muslims baying for the blood of Asia Bibi outside the Supreme court during the hearing, a scene very common to trials of this nature in Pakistan.”

The spokesperson said, “We are calling on the Pakistani Government to ensure that known ring-leaders are rounded up and prosecuted under the countries incitement to hatred laws.

Main Pakistani Muslims demand execution of Asia Bibi“If these extremist elements are allowed to foment violence against innocent Christians, then it will be the government and security forces that will be to blame. Any community tension must be controlled and attacks curbed by security forces ensuring that innocent Christian communities are protected, during a time when their pariah status is set to reach epic levels.”

Many Christians in Pakistani are deeply concerned that if she is finally freed, she and her family would be the immediate target for assassins in an extra-judicial killing as they left the court. Already, the Mayor of Paris, France, has offered sanctuary to them, but in view of recent terrorist attacks there, they may not be safe. So please prayer for this situation.

The BPCA has told ANS that it has continued its appeal to support the Asia Bibi and her family. If you would like to donate towards the upcoming appeal, please go to: https://britishpakistanichristians.worldsecuresystems.com/donate.

To sign the BPCA Petition on behalf of Asia Bibi, go to: http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/justice4asia.

 

Source: ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)



FRESH CALL FOR RELEASE OF ASIA BIBI

By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service

The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, has increased the pressure on Pakistan over their continued detention of Pakistan Christian mother, Asia Bibi, under the country’s much criticized blasphemy laws, by writing to Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Australia, Naela Chohan, and Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, about the case.

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Asia Bibi.

Last month, members of the Anglican Consultative Council, meeting in the Zambian capital of Lusaka, called for a fresh investigation into her case, leading to her “honorable acquittal.” Asia Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010, after being accused of insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed after she took a sip from a drinking vessel before handing it to her Islamic colleagues.

“It is clear that a disgraceful application of Pakistan’s blasphemy law, 295c, has brought tragedy and shame upon [Asia Bibi] and indeed the beautiful nation of Pakistan,” Archbishop Freier later wrote on his blog, in an article republished by ACNS (http://www.anglicannews.org/comment/2016/05/free-asia-bibi.aspx_).

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Asia Bibi.

In his letter to Australia’s Foreign Minister, he asks Ms. Bishop to pursue justice and mercy for Asia Bibi and for the protection of the Christian minority in Pakistan. In his letter to the High Commissioner for Pakistan to Australia, he asked that Pakistan re-open Asia Bibi’s case and acquit her, and also work to protect Christians in Pakistan, who go constantly in fear of their lives and property.

“I wrote to Ms. Chohan that Pakistan and Australia share interests and values, including the priority of justice with mercy,” Archbishop Freier said. “The treatment of Asia Bibi fails this fundamental test of our shared humanity, and her continued imprisonment brings shame.”

What caused the blasphemy charge against Pakistani Christian wife and mother, Asia Bibi?

Asia was raised in Ittan Wali, a small, rural village in theSheikhupura Districtof Punjab, thirty miles outside ofLahore, and one day in 2009, she was picking berries in the sweltering heat, in a field with a group of Muslim women, who worked on the farm of Muslim landowner, Muhammad Idrees. Her family was one of only three Christian families in the village of more than 1,500 families

During this time, she was asked by some of the other women, to get some water for them from a well. On the long and dusty walk back, she took a sip of water from the vessel, and when the Muslim women discovered this they became extremely angry, and in an exchange, she told them: “Our Christ sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins…. Our Christ is alive.”

After uttering these words that she used to defend her faith against the mocking co-workers who tried to make her convert to Islam, she could never have dreamed the shocking consequences that would follow.

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Archbishop Philip Freier.

The Muslim women began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey.

“Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into protective custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. Christians urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but the police claimed they had to go forward because of pressure from local Muslim leaders,” explained a Voice of the Martyrs spokesperson.

“Upon hearing this response, the Muslim women became angry and began to beat Asia. Then some men took her and locked her in a room. They announced from mosque loudspeakers that she would be punished by having her face blackened and being paraded through the village on a donkey.

“Local Christians informed the police, who took Asia into protective custody before the Muslims could carry out their plan. Christians urged the police not to file blasphemy charges, but the police claimed they had to go forward because of pressure from local Muslim leaders.”

After a lengthy trial, on Nov. 8, 2010, Asia Bibi was sentenced to death by a judge. The judge also fined Asia $1,190 (U.S.) and told her she had seven days to appeal the decision. Her attorneys filed the appeal promptly, and now wait for the Lahore High Court to rule. If the appeal is rejected, Asia would be the first woman to be lawfully executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. She remains in prison, waiting to hear the high court’s ruling.

But that wasn’t all. There were two shocking events related to her case:

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Salmaan Taseer with Asia Bibi at the prison where she was fingerprinted. Many believe that this visit lead to his murder.

On Jan. 4, 2011, the governor of Punjab province, where Asia lives, was assassinated by a member of his security team. Though a Muslim, Salmaan Taseer had spoken out repeatedly in favor of a pardon for Asia Bibi and for a reexamination of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Governor Taseer also met with Asia in prison.

* On March 2, 2011, Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s cabinet and another person who had spoken out on behalf of Asia Bibi, was also assassinated for his support of her.

The Voice of the Martyrs has supported Asia Bibi and her family since the time of her arrest. In July, 2011, VOM launched www.CallForMercy.com in an effort to gather 1,000,000 signatures from around the world asking for Asia’s release.

In Pakistan, more than 150,000 Christians have also signed a petition demanding justice for persecution victims, including Asia Bibi. Now you can join with The Voice of the Martyrs and its Pakistani brothers and sisters in a call for mercy.

“Invite your friends to visit www.CallForMercy.com and add their names to the petition as well. VOM will deliver the petition, along with the list of signers, to the Pakistani Embassy in Washington DC,” added the VOM spokesperson.

Source:  ASSIST News Service