The Supreme Court of Pakistan has scheduled a preliminary hearing to decide whether to hear Asia Bibi’s appeal against her conviction and execution sentence because of her Christian faith.
The ECLJ’s affiliate, Organization for Legal Aid (OLA), in Pakistan spoke with Ashiq Masih, Asia Bibi’s husband. He has informed us that the appeal is set to be heard on Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Staff from OLA will be attending the hearing and will report back the details of the hearing.
Christian mom Asia Bibi was arrested in June 2009 after her co-workers accused her of uttering derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (blasphemy) – a crime with mandatory death penalty under Pakistani law – when she offered a Muslim co-worker a drink of water. A trial court sentenced Asia Bibi to death in November 2010 and the Lahore High Court (the appellate level court) upheld her conviction in October 2014.
We have been aggressively fighting across the world for her freedom, demanding Pakistan overturn her death sentence and release her, launching a massive global advocacy campaign. Now, after much international outcry, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has scheduled the preliminary hearing.
Although the Supreme Court has never upheld the death penalty in blasphemy cases, the high profile nature of Asia Bibi’s case makes her very vulnerable to an attack by Muslims. In the past, numerous individuals accused of blasphemy have been murdered. In April 1994, three Christians were shot as they left the Lahore High Court; one of the Christians, Manznoor Masih, was killed, while the other two (Rehmat Masih and Salamat Masih) were injured. The High Court Justice who reversed their convictions was later shot and killed in his office. In July 2010, Rashid and Sajid Emanuel, two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy, were shot and killed outside a courtroom of Faisalabad. In September 2014, Pastor Zafar Bhatti was shot and killed in a Rawalpindi prison, after being convicted of blasphemy. In November 2014, a Muslim mob burned to death a young Christian couple, including a pregnant mother of four children. Numerous others have been killed but most perpetrators have never been apprehended or brought to justice.
A Muslim cleric in Pakistan has put a price on Asia Bibi head, even as she sits on death row. He announced a prize of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 500,000 (approximately $ 100 to $5000) for anyone who kills Asia. Salman Taseer, Governor of the Punjab province, was murdered by his own security guard for advocating on behalf of Asia Bibi and calling for the repeal of blasphemy laws.
We are urging the Supreme Court to see the injustice done to Asia and her family. We are calling on the Court will take into consideration Asia’s testimony that she did not, and had no intention to, violate the law; that the two eye-witnesses who testified against her were never cross-examined; and that the trial court gave more weight to the testimony of her accusers than Asia’s testimony. We hope that the Court will see these and other serious errors made at the trial and will reverse her conviction.
We also urge the Pakistani government to provide adequate security to Asia and her family. Finally, we pray that Asia Bibi’s ordeal soon comes to an end.
Join us as we vigorously advocate for this Christian woman’s freedom from death row. Sign our urgent petition (below and) at BeHeardProject.com.
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