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An interview with Asia Bibi facing death penalty

A human rights activist based in Pakistan has supplied Christians Together with the transcript of an interview he conducted with Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman facing the death sentence for blasphemy.
 


Aasia BibiAsia Bibi (born c. 1966) is a Pakistani Christian wife and mother of five children who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. The verdict, which would need to be upheld by a superior court, has received worldwide attention.
If executed, Asia would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy. Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both killed for opposing the blasphemy laws.

The following is a transcript of an interview conducted at the beginning of November by a Pakistani journalist (PJ is a pseudonym) speaking to Aasia Bibi. 11/11/11 marked the end of her first year in prison.

For further information about Aasia Bibi read on......

---------------------------

PJ: How are you being treated?

AB: When I was arrested, i was assaulted and harnessed by the police... I was in a state of shock for many days.... I fasted and prayed... my family has been in trouble... they have been moving one place to another... yes i have forgiven the Muslims who put me and my family in this situation. I live in a confined cell, i am allowed to go out for only 30 minutes every day.... and allowed to meet my family for 1 hour every Tuesday....
I am given raw material to cook for myself, the administration fears I might be poisoned, as other Christians accused of Blasphemy were poisoned or killed in the jail.... the security on my duty is polite. Last week a few hot words were exchanged with the warden over a minute issue, she tried to strangled me. She has been suspended.

PJ: What are your expectations for the future?

AB: I pray and and fast, I want to be with my family. Hug my daughters, kiss them. I am awaiting for a date from the Lahore High Court for the appeal regarding the death sentence... Masihi Foundation is supporting my family and has hired a lawyer for the case. A petition has been filed at the Lahore high Court awaiting them to accept the case for hearing.... I am hopeful that I will be released. There is a bounty of about 8,000$ offered by the religious clerics, I have left everything on God, I will accept His will...

PJ: Do you have a message for the Christians [of the West]?

AB: I will request them to pray and do something for the Christians in Pakistan who are suffering and persecuted....there are many other Christians in jails who need help... They can help the human rights organizations who fight for the persecuted and become the voice of the voiceless.

PJ: Is there any way [Christians in the West] can help you?

AB: They can pray and ask their government / representatives to do something for the persecuted Christians....

PJ: What do you think of the Pakistani blasphemy law?

AB: Blasphemy law is a man made law, it is being misused in Pakistan to settle personal vendettas, it should be repealed or atleast amended.. It has claimed so many innocent lives... I have also been falsely accused.

PJ: What ks the general situation of Christians in Pakistan?

AB: Its not very good, the Christians specially in the villages are living a worst life, they are mistreated, abused and framed for false cases as they cannot afford to fight for their rights.... the NGOs need support to help them, they are denied government jobs and not given the respect... only 10 % of the Christians are able to get good jobs and are settled only because they are educated. The odd jobs in the country are reserved only for the Christians.

PJ has also talked with Aasia Bibi's two daughters:

Bibi`s Daughter Alishba said:

" We are praying and fasting for our mother so that she can be with us, I visit her with my father and each time I meet her, i cant stop myself and tears pour out. My mother tries to hold my hand through the gaps between the grilled window and says, have faith in the Lord, He will bring me home one day.
Every time I hear these words, I cry to the Lord to bring back my mother so that we can be with her again."


The youngest daughter said:

" It has been months I have not met my mother, I an scared... I just see her pictures and can't control my tears. I fear that I will not be able to see my mother in the condition she is in. As I have the pleasant memories of her when she was with us, so I cannot even imagine what she is going through.
There are times I even lose all the hope of seeing her ever again, so I want to keep the memories of her smiling and playing with us. If she comes back to us, I will forget this whole thing as a bad dream."




Please pray for Asia and her family and act as the Lord leads.

Write to them

For other reports of Christians facing persecution and death in Pakistan read:
Increasing persecution of Pakistani Christians
Pakistani Christians being raped and killed
Pakistani Christians protesting recent killing


PJ (Pseudonym), 18/11/2011

Feedback:
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Christine (Guest) 30/01/2014 05:07
People living in my country cannot believe what happens elsewhere. In our so called modern and evolved 21st century society we simply can't fathom that these atrocities are happening all over the world. I really wish that mankind could live in perfect harmony and peace. All being respectful of each other and their religions. I will also pray for Asia and family but sadly she desperately needs a lot more than prayers. God bless and help this poor woman.
John Miller 30/01/2014 10:53
Does anyone have any recent news of this amazing Christian woman or know of any recent developments in her case. We pray for her regularly in our weekly prayer meeting at the Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, Glenrothes.
florence (Guest) 30/03/2014 03:16
And look at all the rights they insist upon over here. Jesus Chrlst is Lord.
Editor 03/04/2014 21:15
REPORT FROM PAKISTAN (LAHORE): -

After making pledge to do all he can to help free Asia Bibi,Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,a Christian Human Rights Defender and Chief of Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) was threatened to be pursued in Punjab Bar for the cancellation of his bar licence.

On 26 March,2014,there was court hearing of Asia Bibi's appeal ,blasphemy convicted,in the Division Bench Lahore High Court ,Lahore, and postponed and fixed for 14 April,2014.Gill was present at court hearing along with his team.

"Today,2 April,2014,one white collar unknown person came at Civil Court, Lahore and met me at our sitting place and he instructed me to be careful because there is apprehension that someone has plan to make attacked at you by someone and might be you will be get involved in some false criminal cases just due to your human rights work ,"told Gill.

He further added that Rana Latif Anwar,advocate High Court,also instructed and advised him to be careful otherwise he might be killed by someone and he was also told that he was on hit list from last year to till now.He was told that there were some black sheep who often did such like things with other too for their vested interests.

Gill says that it is written in Psalm 118:6-The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
and
Revelation 2:10-Don't be afraid of what you are going to suffer. Look! The devil is going to throw some of you into prison so that you may be tested. For ten days you will undergo suffering. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the victor's crown of life.

"I and my other staff members were threatened and attacked many times by some unknown persons due to our human rights work in Pakistan but we were not be afraid of such threats and attacks,we know that death is the result of the campaign which we have started against blasphemy law and in the support of persecuted Church,"told Gill.

"Now we are between Judas Iscariot and Roman soldiers who are in plotting to hang us on cross,"said Gill."Life and career both are at stake,"added Gill.

Gill says , we believe in this Gospel Verse 1 John 3:17 -But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

We have full believe in God Who saved Paul from Jews:Plot Uncovered; Paul Taken to Caesarea in the same way He must make stand someone for us to rescue us from the plots which are being made for us.As Paul's nephew did.
Paul's nephew, a young man probably in his early twenties, heard of this plot "ambush" .He reports it to Paul, who then sends him with his message up the chain of command through a centurion to the commander.

We are motivated by God,we have no fear of any loss even our lives but our voice for our brothers and sisters no one can make stopped to raise for them.We will not stop our human rights work because The Lord has commanded us to do this.We have heard His voice as Paul heard: Acts 23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

Our efforts and struggle be continue for rule of law,religious liberty and freedom and campaign to repeal blasphemy law and all other discriminatory law in Pakistan.

In Solidarity,

LEAD


Editor 04/06/2014 17:50
ASIA BIBI APPEAL HEARING CANCELLED

Pakistan: Appeal hearing has been cancelled today (27/05/14) again in the case of Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five sentenced to death for blasphemy.The judges avoid the responsibility of deciding what to do with such a delicate case.

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 blasphemy accused,Khalil Ahmed was shot dead on the day of accusation.He was killed by teenage boy while in police detention hours after he was arrested.It was the second murder involving the blasphemy issue within this month.The rights activist Rashid Rehman was also shot dead while he was sitting in his chamber.His murderers have not yet been apprehended despite his having named those who threatened him.It 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 and even against those who defending the accused.In 2013,Pakistan became dangerous country for religious minorities.They are moving from Pakistan because they do not think themselves safe in this country.

Indeed, this is now become 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 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 reality is different.

The state is stamped with a religion and is constitutionally called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.We Christian and other religious minorities what to do about it? We demand a secular state in which we all can enjoy equal rights and be treated equally before 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 the point which the state has to take seriously.

"We know death is a risk that comes with being a Christian campaigner of against the blasphemy law but we have faith in this "Revelation 2:10 Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life".We have to work on the streets,not in the best hotels of the town if we wish to save our nation,"said Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,a Human Rights Defender and Chief of LEAD.

Given this balance sheet, the repeal of the blasphemy law is possible only through mass awareness, organised campaigns and galvanising progressive religious leaders for the greater cause of the protection of religious minorities.The state needs to remain neutral and secular in its policies and the state should be secular.

In Solidarity,
LEAD

Editor 04/06/2014 17:52
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

We are continuously in touch and follow of Asia Bibi's appeal case which is pending in Lahore High Court,which was lastly heard on 26 March,2014 and thereafter the appeal was fixed on 14 April,2014 ,but the same was not listed out/cancelled due to which same was not heard and subsequently again fixed on 27 May,2014 and the same was not listed out(listed out means that case was even not written down on cause list)/cancelled.

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,a Human Rights Defender and Chief of LEAD is continuously in touch with Administration of the Lahore High Court and leading counsel of the appeal case of Asia Bibi Mr.S.K Choudhary (Advocate) who filed appeal in 2010.Mr.Gill got information from the Administration of the Lahore High Court that the case of Asia Bibi is very sensitive nature and high profile so the administration have got instruction and direction from the Superior that the case would not be fixed but how long no answer.

Yesterday Mr.Gill again met with Mr.S.K Choudhary (Advocate) and discussed about the case,we are planning to adopt some legal way by which the Court must heard the appeal case of Asia Bibi.We have two legal by which we can seek legal remedy (a) Application Under Section 561-A Cr.P.c for fixation and early hearing of the appeal case of Asia Bibi on the main ground of coming summer vacations.(b) Application Under Section 426 Cr.P.c for Suspension of sentence pending Appeal;release of appellant on bail.
Note:LEAD is not sending this press note for donation or fund for this appeal case of Asia Bibi as we have not engaged Mr.S.K Choudhary (Advocate). We are following this case because many are questing us why we are not playing our role to release Asia Bibi so we have very much concerned about Asia Bibi and with your encouragement with prayers,we promise that we must do all which we can do for Asia Bibi's release.

In Solidarity,

LEAD

Voice Of Pakistani Christian (Guest) 29/06/2014 07:35
Petition filed at the High Court: fix a trial date for Asia Bibi BY LEAD Under Section 561-A Cr.P
http://www.fides.org/en/news/35955-ASIA_PAKISTAN_Petition_filed_at_the_High_Court_fix_a_trial_date_for_Asia_Bibi#.U6-u7JRdU8o

John Miller 15/03/2015 13:25
I urge all Christians to redouble their efforts in prayer for this faithful woman. Remember the Lord's parable about the widow and the unjust judge.
Editor 14/10/2016 16:41
After seven years in prison, Asia Bibi will have to wait even longer to know her fate.

Her appearance Thursday before Pakistan’s Supreme Court was put off when one of the three judges in the case recused himself. The Christian mother of five is facing a death sentence for blasphemy.

"I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that," Judge Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman reportedly told the court. Taseer was a politician who was assassinated in 2011 after he spoke out on behalf of Bibi. His killer, who was praised by many who thought he did the right thing, was sentenced to death by the Pakistan court and executed in February.

Lawyer and columnist Asad Jamal said Rehman wasn’t legally required to remove himself, according to World Watch Monitor (WWM). Both cases have caused national uproar; about 150 radical clerics have called on the government to hang Bibi and others accused of blasphemy. Yesterday 100 policeman were on hand to keep order, WWM reported.

Bibi’s new hearing date has not been set, according to the BBC. It will be her last chance at saving her life.

Read full report: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/october/asia-bibi-pakistan-supreme-court-blasphemy-death-sentence.html?utm_source=ctdirect-html&utm_medium=Newsletter&utm_term=9454182&utm_content=470741221&utm_campaign=email
Editor 19/10/2016 14:07
Pakistan Supreme Court delays Aasia Bibi’s blasphemy appeal after judge steps down

The Supreme Court of Pakistan today (13th October) adjourned the hearing of Aasia Bibi’s final appeal for an indefinite period after a judge in the case stepped down.

She has been detained since 2009 after she was accused of uttering derogatory remarks against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Aasia was sentenced to death in 2010 by the lower court, a decision which was upheld by the Lahore Court and then challenged in the Supreme Court.

Her lawyer had submitted an application for an early hearing, which was granted, and a date was set for today. But Justice Mian Saqib Nisar – heading the three judge bench set for this appeal - adjourned the case for indefinite period when Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman recused himself from the case stating that “I have been involved in the earlier blasphemy case of Salmaan Taseer, which was related to it so I cannot hear this case”. Meanwhile a letter has been written to the Chief Justice asking him to appoint another judge to hear this case.

CLAAS-PK national director Joseph Francis was present in the court and according to him security was very tight and thousands of security troops had been deployed in capital, Islamabad. Hundreds were deployed outside the court as several clergy groups demanded Aasia’s execution arguing that a person charged with blasphemy deserves death and nothing less. Aasia Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Malluck, have already claimed on several occasions that he has been receiving death threats. Also present in court was Aasia’s husband Ashiq Maish, and some Christians were also there to support him.

Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, lawyer for the complainant against Aasia Bibi, was also present in court with dozens of clerics and Muslim supporters.
Nasir Saeed Director CLAAS-UK said that although the hearing has been adjourned he is still very hopeful that at the next hearing the charges against Aasia will be dropped and she will be freed by the supreme court.

He added: “But I am also scared that there can be tremendous repercussions for the Christians whether her conviction is overturned or upheld. If her conviction is upheld, then she can appeal to the president of Pakistan.

“Undoubtedly pressure will be further built by Islamists groups and if God forbid, her appeal is rejected by the president of Pakistan then she will become the first person to be executed for blasphemy in Pakistan. Also if charges are dropped and she is freed, there will be huge protests in Pakistan by the Islamists and Christians’ properties and lives will be at risk.”

He concluded: “It is very important that the government takes this matter seriously and takes security measures before the appeal hearing, not just in the Islamabad but throughout the country and particularly in Punjab.” well as shelter and financial support for the victims and their families.

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