AT LAST! BUT SHE AND HER FAMILY WILL NEED ASYLUM OUTSIDE PAKISTAN!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Asia Bibi to Be Acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court
Apex Court’s Decision Brings Close to Pakistan’s Most Visible Case of Persecution
10/08/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the final appeal for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad, was heard by Pakistan’s Supreme Court earlier today, October 8. According to sources reached by ICC, the three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, will reverse Bibi’s death sentence.
According to these sources, although the decision to reverse the judgment against Bibi has been made, the court has ordered the media not to comment until the decision is formally announced. This formal announcement could be made at any time.
“I’m very hopeful for Asia’s release and acquittal,” Sajid Christopher, President of Human Friends Organization, told ICC. “[Bibi’s lawyer], Advocate Saif-Ul-Malook, prepared very well. He pointed out all the contradictions in the FIR and witness statements. I am very confident that Asia is innocent.”
“I am hopeful of justice being served,” Cecil Chaudhry, Executive Director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, said. “I am hopeful that sanity prevails and [Asia] gets her rightful justice.”
In October 2016, the Supreme Court of Pakistan indefinitely adjourned Bibi’s appeal after one of the three justices hearing the case recused himself. Since then, Bibi’s appeal was pending before the Supreme Court.
“Asia Bibi’s case is an example of the widespread abuse of the blasphemy laws and persecution facing Pakistani Christians,” Peter Jacob, Executive Director of Center for Social Justice, told ICC. “Law enforcement and justice system should consider that the victims of blasphemy laws undergo enormous suffering years before they get relief from the courts.”
Bibi has been on death row since her conviction and death sentence were announced by the Sessions Court in District Nankana, Punjab in 2010. Her High Court appeal was also delayed and rescheduled seven times, but was finally held on October 16, 2014 at the Lahore High Court. During that appeal, Justice Anwar-ul-Haq, one member of a two-judge bench, confirmed Bibi’s death sentence. On July 22, 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan accepted Bibi’s petition for her case to be reviewed and suspended her death sentence.
The blasphemy accusation against Bibi is based on flimsy evidence from a dispute that took place in June 2009 between Bibi and a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries in Sheikhupura. The Muslim women became angry with Bibi when she, a Christian whom they considered unclean, drank water from the same water bowl as the Muslim women. An argument between Bibi and the Muslim women ensued and the Muslim women later reported to a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against the prophet Muhammad.
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “It is amazing to see Asia finally receive justice after almost a decade in prison. It has been nine long years since Asia had this false blasphemy accusation completely change her life. We here at ICC are hopeful that the Supreme Court will soon formally announce Asia’s acquittal. It is ICC’s hope that, with this decision, the Supreme Court will lay a foundation for reforming Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws and signal to both Pakistan and the world that justice will prevail over extremism, even when a religious minority is accused of blasphemy.”
Pakistan’s Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar has said that the Supreme Court will hear Asia Bibi’s appeal against her blasphemy conviction “soon”, and that he will preside over the bench.
- Describing her case, Bibi said she was working in a field when she was asked to fetch water. Because she is a Christian, some of her Muslim co-workers objected, saying that she should not touch the water vessel as she would make it unclean. An argue began and harsh words were exchanged. Bibi claims the women later accused her of blasphemy in conspiracy with another Muslim woman. Bibi maintains her innocence.
But let us not forget others imprisoned or on death row for blasphemy who are innocent namely IMRAN GHAFUR (2009), ZAFAR BHATTI and FARHAN AZIZ.
LAHORE: The Supreme Court is due to hear the final appeal against the execution of Asia Bibi, a Christian, accused for blasphemy, on Thursday. Some insist it is not just a fight for one life, but a battle for the nation’s soul as the state walks a razor-sharp line between upholding human rights and appeasing populist hardliners.
This will be the final appeal for Asia Bibi, some six years after she was sentenced to death, accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water.
“There is no question that what is at stake is the very soul of the state and Pakistan society: does Pakistan respect the rights of the most vulnerable? Does it defend those rights against spurious allegations even where those allegations involved matters that are sacred to most Pakistanis?” Mustafa Qadri, an expert on human rights in South…
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