An interview with Asia Bibi facing death penalty
A human rights activist based in Pakistan has supplied Christians Together with the transcript of an interview he conducted with Asia Bibi, the Pakistani woman facing the death sentence for blasphemy.
Asia Bibi (born c. 1966) is a Pakistani Christian wife and mother of five children who was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. The verdict, which would need to be upheld by a superior court, has received worldwide attention.
If executed, Asia would be the first woman in Pakistan to be lawfully killed for blasphemy. Christian minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both killed for opposing the blasphemy laws.
The following is a transcript of an interview conducted at the beginning of November by a Pakistani journalist (PJ is a pseudonym) speaking to Aasia Bibi. 11/11/11 marked the end of her first year in prison.
For further information about Aasia Bibi read on......
PJ: How are you being treated?
AB: When I was arrested, i was assaulted and harnessed by the police... I was in a state of shock for many days.... I fasted and prayed... my family has been in trouble... they have been moving one place to another... yes i have forgiven the Muslims who put me and my family in this situation. I live in a confined cell, i am allowed to go out for only 30 minutes every day.... and allowed to meet my family for 1 hour every Tuesday....
I am given raw material to cook for myself, the administration fears I might be poisoned, as other Christians accused of Blasphemy were poisoned or killed in the jail.... the security on my duty is polite. Last week a few hot words were exchanged with the warden over a minute issue, she tried to strangled me. She has been suspended.
PJ: What are your expectations for the future?
AB: I pray and and fast, I want to be with my family. Hug my daughters, kiss them. I am awaiting for a date from the Lahore High Court for the appeal regarding the death sentence... Masihi Foundation is supporting my family and has hired a lawyer for the case. A petition has been filed at the Lahore high Court awaiting them to accept the case for hearing.... I am hopeful that I will be released. There is a bounty of about 8,000$ offered by the religious clerics, I have left everything on God, I will accept His will...
PJ: Do you have a message for the Christians [of the West]?
AB: I will request them to pray and do something for the Christians in Pakistan who are suffering and persecuted....there are many other Christians in jails who need help... They can help the human rights organizations who fight for the persecuted and become the voice of the voiceless.
PJ: Is there any way [Christians in the West] can help you?
AB: They can pray and ask their government / representatives to do something for the persecuted Christians....
PJ: What do you think of the Pakistani blasphemy law?
AB: Blasphemy law is a man made law, it is being misused in Pakistan to settle personal vendettas, it should be repealed or atleast amended.. It has claimed so many innocent lives... I have also been falsely accused.
PJ: What ks the general situation of Christians in Pakistan?
AB: Its not very good, the Christians specially in the villages are living a worst life, they are mistreated, abused and framed for false cases as they cannot afford to fight for their rights.... the NGOs need support to help them, they are denied government jobs and not given the respect... only 10 % of the Christians are able to get good jobs and are settled only because they are educated. The odd jobs in the country are reserved only for the Christians.
PJ has also talked with Aasia Bibi's two daughters:
Bibi`s Daughter Alishba said:
" We are praying and fasting for our mother so that she can be with us, I visit her with my father and each time I meet her, i cant stop myself and tears pour out. My mother tries to hold my hand through the gaps between the grilled window and says, have faith in the Lord, He will bring me home one day.
Every time I hear these words, I cry to the Lord to bring back my mother so that we can be with her again."
The youngest daughter said:
" It has been months I have not met my mother, I an scared... I just see her pictures and can't control my tears. I fear that I will not be able to see my mother in the condition she is in. As I have the pleasant memories of her when she was with us, so I cannot even imagine what she is going through.
There are times I even lose all the hope of seeing her ever again, so I want to keep the memories of her smiling and playing with us. If she comes back to us, I will forget this whole thing as a bad dream."
Please pray for Asia and her family and act as the Lord leads.
For other reports of Christians facing persecution and death in Pakistan read:
Increasing persecution of Pakistani Christians
Pakistani Christians being raped and killed
Pakistani Christians protesting recent killing
PJ (Pseudonym), 18/11/2011