An Irish human rights charity has called on Pakistan’s new ambassador to Ireland to ensure that religiously persecuted Asia Bibi and her husband are granted permission to leave the country.
Church in Chains, an Irish charity that encourages prayer and action in support of persecuted Christians worldwide, wrote to Mr Sardar Shuja Alam today requesting that Asia Bibi’s rights “as an innocent person are fully upheld” and that she be allowed to leave the country immediately.
In a letter to the new ambassador, director of the charity David Turner wrote: “On several occasions, we have made representations to your government regarding the case of Asia Bibi. Most recently, a group of our supporters gathered outside the embassy to highlight the dreadful injustice that she had suffered in that she had been declared innocent by the highest court in Pakistan and released from prison but was still not free, following the decision of the government of Pakistan to ban her from leaving the country while a review petition against her acquittal was considered by the Supreme Court.”
The letter continued that in late January, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition to review its acquittal of Asia Bibi thus paving the way for her to leave the country.
“Therefore, we cannot understand why she has been prevented from leaving Pakistan and are deeply concerned that the Pakistani army is reported to be actively involved in this denial of Ms Bibi’s human rights. It is completely unacceptable by any criteria that an innocent Christian woman, acquitted in October 2018, upheld in January 2019, is still not free,” the letter reads.
“We ask that you convey urgently to your government our request that it act immediately to ensure that Asia Bibi’s rights as an innocent person are fully upheld and that she and her husband are allowed to leave the country immediately.”
The 47-year-old-mother of four was sentenced to hang for blasphemy in 2010, and had remained in solitary confinement for the past eight years. She had angered Muslim farm workers by taking a sip of water from a cup she had fetched for them on a hot day. When they demanded she convert to Islam, she refused, prompting a mob to later allege that she had insulted the prophet Mohammed.