Free from prison, but Asia Bibi’s Life still threatened
Michael Ireland - Assist News
Asia Bibi, recently acquitted of blasphemy, has been transferred to a new location following threats to her life, a family member has revealed, according to www.alaraby.co.uk .
Asia Bibi was freed three months ago after a decision by Pakistan’s Supreme Court that proved she was innocent of blasphemy charges — a highly sensitive charge in the Muslim-majority country.
Her acquittal followed international outcry over the Pakistani-Christian woman’s eight years on death row over the false charges.
Bibi was moved from her previous location near the capital to Karachi by security forces, her friend said, with Bibi unable to leave the country. She is frustrated and frightened, and uncertain about if and when she will be able to leave Pakistan.
“She has no indication of when she will leave… they are not telling her why she cannot leave,” said Ullah, who fled the country Friday after receiving threats from religious militants due to the help he provided Bibi.
Ullah has been a liaison between Bibi and European diplomats, who have sought to assist her.
Bibi’s ordeal began in 2009 when two fellow farmworkers refused to drink from the same container as a Christian. Following an argument they accused Bibi of blasphemy.
The Supreme Court in October acquitted Bibi saying there were widespread inconsistencies in the testimony against her. They said had the case not been so sensitive the accusers would face perjury charges.
Last month the high court rejected an appeal by a radical religious party to review her acquittal.
Her departure from Pakistan will come not in the “short term but in the medium term,” said Ullah.
He said Bibi told him she is locked in one room of a house with the door only opening at food time. She is allowed to make phone calls in the morning and again at night.
Pakistan’s legal system has been under criticism due to the death sentence being mandatary for a conviction of insulting Islam.
The law is used to settle scores and targets the country’s minorities, including Shia Muslims, critics say, with the mere suggestion of blasphemy inciting mobs to kill.
After Bibi’s October acquittal the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik party (TLP) called its followers onto the streets where they protested for three days demanding Bibi’s immediate execution as well as the death of the judges who acquitted her.
They have also called for the overthrow of Imran Khan’s government and incited the military against the army chief.
Since then the leadership has been arrested along with dozens of their followers for inciting violence.
Bibi hopes to be able to join her daughters in Canada, where they have been granted asylum.
After spending eight years on death row in Pakistan and being acquitted of blasphemy charges, Bibi has been transferred from a secret location near the capital to another in Karachi, but is still unable to leave the country to join her daughters in Canada, a friend said on Saturday, as reported by https://en.qantara.de
Aman Ullah, who spoke to Asia Bibi by telephone on Friday, said the 54-year-old Bibi is being held in a room in the southern port city. He said Bibi, who faces death threats by radical Islamists, is frustrated and frightened, uncertain of when she will be able to leave Pakistan.
“She has no indication of when she will leave … they are not telling her why she cannot leave,” said Ullah, who fled the country on Friday after receiving threats from extremists angered by his assistance to Bibi, which began while she was on death row.
Ullah has been a liaison between Bibi and European diplomats, who have sought to assist her. Journalists spoke to Bibi by telephone with Ullah’s assistance following her October acquittal, which was upheld last month.
Bibi’s ordeal began in 2009 when two fellow farmworkers refused to drink from the same container as a Christian woman. There was a quarrel and the two Muslim women later accused Bibi of blasphemy. The Supreme Court judges said there were widespread inconsistencies in the testimony against Bibi, who has steadfastly maintained her innocence.
The acquittal should have given Bibi her freedom, but Ullah said diplomats were told that her departure from Pakistan, where she feels her life would be in danger, would come not in the short term, but “in the medium term.” He said Bibi told him she is locked in one room of a house.
“The door opens at food time only,” said Ullah and she is allowed to make phone calls in the morning and again at night. He said she usually calls her daughters. Bibi’s husband is with her, he said.
“She is living with her family and given requisite security for safety,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in an email. He said the government was responsible for taking “all possible measures” to protect her and her family, adding that “she is a free citizen after her release from jail and can move anywhere in Pakistan or abroad.”
Bibi’s case has brought international attention to Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which carries an automatic death sentence for a conviction of insulting Islam. There have been widespread complaints that the law is used to settle scores and intimidate religious minorities, including Shia Muslims.
The mere suggestion of blasphemy can incite mobs to kill. After Bibi’s October acquittal the radical Tehreek-e-Labbaik party (TLP) called its followers onto the streets, where they protested for three days demanding Bibi’s immediate execution as well as the death of the judges who acquitted her. The party leadership also advocated overthrowing Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government and incited the military against the army chief.
Since then the party’s leadership has been arrested along with dozens of their supporters for inciting violence.
Ullah, a rights activist, first began aiding those falsely charged with blasphemy when his wife was wrongly accused and has since helped several people gain their freedom. Bibi’s case brought him to the attention of religious radicals.
In recent months, he has been physically assaulted, gunmen have opened fire on his home and several religious radicals attacked his home. Ullah said he fears being attacked again or charged with blasphemy.
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