Article written by Shamim Masih and Wilson Chowdhry
Pakistani Christians across the globe shed tears of disgust and horror as innocent Christian mother of five Asia Bibi, has had her blasphemy law appeal hearing rejected. Literally minutes ago a two member bench of Lahore High Court, led by Justice Anwar-ul-Haque decided to uphold her existing blasphemy sentence, meaning Asia will remain on a death/life sentence and will now have to appeal through the Supreme Court of Pakistan - which will be the last chance of justice through Pakistan's flawed legal system.
Asia Bibi has been in jail since 2009 in a blasphemy case, then an additional district and session judge convicted and sentenced her to death in November 2010.
Her husband Ashiq said;
"This appeal was supposed to be a ray of hope, but the rejection of the appeal has shattered our confidence."
He is still hopeful and stated that the family will now appeal to the Supreme Court..
Abdul Hameed Rana, senior supreme court lawyer and attorney to Rimsha said;
"The history of this trial confirms the problems emanating from Pakistan's legal system. Extra-judicial confessions, incongruencies within testimonies from prosecution witnesses, along with procedural glitches from the police, have been ignored. Moreover, there was also a significant amount of duress within the hearing which had in attendance a large number of Islamic clerics.
He remains optimistic that the Supreme Court of Pakistan will probably acquit her.
Our lead researcher Shamim Masih will be visiting her family tomorrow to gauge their reaction and to see how we can help them through this terrible news. Humanitarian groups across the globe are condemning this latest legal debacle and prayers are being said for the suffering family.
The BPCA have organised a protest for this Saturday from 11:00 - 13:00 at 10 Downing Street. Further information on this will be posted on our blog later today.
"This is a devastating blow to the humanitarian cause for Christians in Pakistan. This news of the failure of her appeal has had a hugely demoralising affect on Minorities in Pakistan, who feel the legal system has regressed - despite promises of reform."
"The people most affected by this news will be Asia Bibi and her immediate family. Asia had great hope that this Appeal hearing would be the start of a new freedom. However, the rejection of the appeal will have no doubt shattered her confidence and resolve. She will need our prayers and support. Her five children have had to live in protected accommodation which will continue for the foreseeable future. There seems to be no escape from the hell this family have undergone, quite the opposite it seems to get worse despite all our efforts."
BPCA is calling for global support for her release. Please contact your MP's, and any High Commission/Consulate/Embassy for Pakistan in your respective areas calling for a presidential pardon or better scrutiny of evidence within any proposed Supreme Court hearing.
Please pray over this whole situation and ask God to give Asia and her family his covering of protection. Asia has had previous assassination attempts whilst in prison, and these will grow with the increasing level of hatred towards minorities, exhibited in modern day Pakistan.
The BPCA is continuing our collection of donations that will be used to support her family. money raised will pay for her children's school fees, wedding costs, trips to the prison and other domestic concerns. If you would like to contributeto our support for Asia our bank details are as follows: Sort Code: 20-67-90Account number: 63468976Bank: Barclays Ref: Asia Bibi Appeal
Alternatively if you would like to send an immediate donation please use the pay-pal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog, or simply send a cheque made payable to the BPCA to our address; 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG. With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Christians in Pakistan.