1 October, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 12/20/2011
PAKISTAN
Christmas in prison for Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy
by Jibran Khan
She appears frail, in poor health. Grateful for prayers and calls for help and support, that she may soon return to embrace her husband and daughters. Despite the suffering, Asia has forgiven her captors and wonders how many more Christian victims will fall beneath the specter of the "black law".

Islamabad (AsiaNews) – Her only hope for the future is to return to her family, to embrace her daughters, so she asks for our prayers while praying that other "brothers and sisters" will not go to prison on false charges of blasphemy. It will be another Christmas in jail, away from her loved ones, for Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five children, locked in the women's prison Sheikpura (Punjab), sentenced to death by the " black law" pending appeal, still awaiting for the High Court of Lahore to set a date. Yesterday a delegation of the International Masihi Foundation, an NGO that deals with the legal protection of women, visited her to exchange greetings on the eve of the festive season. And for the first time since the assassination of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was killed by his bodyguard in January last year, Asia has found herself before a large group of people so far, in fact, she could only speak with her husband and the lawyer during the weekly interview with relatives.

In her isolation cell, looking tired and aged, beyond her 46 years, fragile and very weak, she can barely stand up. Entering the room reserved for meetings escorted by two guards, she appears confused and her eyes run from right to left for the duration of the meeting, about 2 hours and 20 minutes, with alternating emotions ranging from tears to laughter, as well as long periods of silence. Her voice is weak, for the first 10 minutes she can not figure out if the members of the delegation are "friends or enemies." She stops talking when a prison guard enters the room and when they ask how she is treated by the prison authorities she looks away, as if she had not heard the question and closes in a stubborn silence.

Our AsiaNews correspondent attended the meeting with Asia Bibi and spoke with her. Here, below, the responses of a woman who - even in a situation of extreme difficulty –has not lost hope and her desire to fight for her freedom and for her family.

Asia Bibi, on the eve of Christmas, what are your hopes and expectations?


I will answer honestly, I do not know. What do you think will happen? I continue to pray and fast for my family. I wish with all my being to be with my family. I want to hug my daughters. And I still cherish the hope that one day I will be freed.

What message would you like to give to Pakistani Christians and those around the world who pray for you?

Please continue to pray for my return to my family. And I am immensely grateful for the prayers.

Do you have a special day, which breaks the daily monotony of prison?

I lost all sense of celebration, the only day I know, hate and - unfortunately - remember clearly is June 9, the darkest and most painful day of my life when I was arrested. I would not wish even my worst enemy to suffer what I myself have had to endure, what both I and my family have experienced since that terrible June 9. For us it was a nightmare and from then on I lost track of time. In prison you lose track of time, time, day, month. I am illiterate and do not enjoy special concessions in prison, the only thing I can do is participate in Sunday school lessons.

Have you forgiven the people who caused your arrest?


At first no, I could not. And how could I ? [She says this with great anger and then, almost sinks breathing heavily] Although illiterate, I remain deeply Christian and my religion has taught me the value of forgiveness. [she smiles ...] At first, when I was thrown into prison, I was angry and meditated revenge, because I had been ripped from my family. Then I started to pray and fast and it may seem strange, I have noticed that I have forgiven those people who charged me with blasphemy. This is a chapter in my life that I would love to shut behind me and forget.

What do you think of the situation of Christians in Pakistan?


[His face darkens, then suddenly she begins to speak quietly ...] How many more brothers and sisters are still unjustly accused ... will be mistreated, abused, defendants in mock trials as happened to me.

Asia Bibi understands that the meeting is about to end and seems terrified to see friends leave. "When will you come back again to see me?" And then she asks those present: "What will you do now?". Her voice rises to a pitch, like a cry for help ... "When will I be released ..."


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
10/01/2011 PAKISTAN
Pakistan: death sentence for Salman Taseer’s assassin Mumtaz Qadri
by Jibran Khan
12/02/2010 PAKISTAN
Asia Bibi: fears over safety, controversy over stay on pardon
by Jibran Khan
11/16/2010 PAKISTAN
Bishop of Islamabad, Asia Bibi case "a disgrace" . A campaign by AsiaNews
by Jibran Khan
12/16/2010 PAKISTAN
Asia Bibi “can be killed anytime,” Pakistani priest says
by Jibran Khan
11/09/2010 PAKISTAN
Punjab: Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy

Editor's choices
IRAQ-VATICAN
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": Archbishops’ thanks as first aid arrives
by Amel NonaMsgr. Amel Nona, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee himself, thanks all the donors to the AsiaNews campaign. The situation is increasingly difficult given the huge number of refugees and the arrival of winter and snow, making outdoor shelters and tents impossible. The crisis, an occasion that activates the faith of Christians.
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.