When justice systems are found to be neither free nor just, what should be the response?
Religious minorities around the world live under the burden of trumped up charges and invalid sentences. One country most consistently characterized by a fraudulent judicial process is Pakistan. While not every judge and judicial ruling in Pakistan is corrupt or circumspect, significant problems remain. Undoubtedly one of the most noteworthy examples of this is the case of Asia Bibi.
In fact, given the sheer preponderance of the evidence in her favor, it is possible that the case against death row inmate Asia Bibi is the most corrupt case in the world.
The facts of the case are appalling and generally undisputed. In June 2009, Asia, a female Christian mother of five, was working in a field. Parched from hard labor, she drank a glass of water. Angered they would now be expected to drink after a Christian, the Muslim women co-laboring alongside Asia leveled the accusation of blasphemy, a charge regularly used as a sledgehammer against religious minorities across the country. Asia was quickly convicted of blasphemy, sentenced to death, and for the past seven years, has languished while waiting an execution that has thus far seemed as inevitable as it is indefensible.
Asia Bibi’s imprisonment is a scandalous stain on the court system of Pakistan. No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water, especially water helping a mother eke out meager earnings to support a family mired in endemic poverty.
In two days — on October 13 — the Supreme Court of Pakistan is slated to review the case against Asia Bibi. This A!ert is an open plea to the justices of the Supreme Court to honor that which is most just: overturn this egregious ruling and set Asia free. Though there will undoubtedly be public pressure to maintain lower court rulings and to affirm her death sentence, ours is a plea to end this injustice once and for all. Pakistan’s courts should no longer bow to the pressure of voices seeking to eliminate religious and ethnic minority communities who long to live as fully contributing citizens in the ongoing development of Pakistan. This is a plea for these justices to display their humanity and continue to demonstrate that court systems in Pakistan desire to operate according to basic international standards of procedural evidence.
This is also a plea for those living in freedom to stand in solidarity for freedom. The moment of critical engagement is now. The next 48 hours could well determine whether Asia Bibi lives or dies. The actions we take in the next few hours could contribute to the emergence of life or to compounded silence in what might possibly be the most corrupt case in the world.
Elijah Brown, EVP
1. Join with Christian Solidarity Worldwide and thousands of others globally to pray for 24 hours beginning October 12. Pray as you are able, or sign-up for a dedicated time here.
2. Post a picture of yourself drinking a glass of water to social media using #freeAsiaBibi.
3. Petition the government of Pakistan to let it know that you are deeply concerned about Asia Bibi and in the execution of justice, rather than the execution of an innocent woman. For those in the U.S., contact details can be found here.