GENEVA: Fifty human rights activists and a former president of the UN General Assembly are calling on Pakistan to free a Christian mother of five from being hanged in Pakistan on the charge of blasphemy.
The petition was presented in a plenary address to the UN Human Rights Council, delivered by French journalist Anne-Isabelle Tollet, the author of Blasphéme, which tells the story of Asia Bibi.
See petition and signatures below.
“With Pakistan now running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, the government should make an important gesture by releasing Asia Bibi, and repealing its blasphemy law, which is inconsistent with basic human rights,” said Hillel Neuer, director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights group that helped organize the petition.
Ms. Tollet also spoke about Asia Bibi before 400 activists gathered for the Geneva Summit of Human Rights, organized by UN Watch and 19 other human rights NGOs.
“IL FAUT LIBÉRER ASIA BIBI DES GEÔLES PAKISTANAISES,” she said which is translated as:
“Urge Pakistan to free Asia Bibi”
Since June 2009, Pakistani citizen Asia Bibi, mother of five little children, has been imprisoned in appalling and intolerable conditions in Sheikhupura prison in Punjab province.
Her crime: being a Christian who drank a glass of water from a well belonging to her Muslim friends.
Sentenced to death for blasphemy, Asia Bibi continues to proclaim her innocence from the bottom of her windowless cell, where she can touch both walls by stretching out her two arms.
Asia Bibi has appealed her death sentence, but her trial will not take place for another two years. We refuse to accept that this mother of five children will continue to languish in her putrid, stifling, freezing cell for so long — especially without the right to see her children.
The blasphemy law in Pakistan is a threat to every Pakistani citizen, irrespective of religion. Muslims are actually its main victims. Under Islamist pressure, the Pakistani authorities have abandoned their efforts to reform this unjust law, and prefer to let Asia Bibi die in her cell.
Only if the international community mobilizes and launches a tenacious, forceful, and determined campaign will the Pakistani authorities be compelled to respect human rights. We do not want to close our eyes and remain silent in the face of Asia Bibi’s plight, while she suffers behind bars and awaits her death by hanging.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee the right to practice one’s religion and to express one’s opinion freely. Pakistan ratified the ICCPR in 2010. An international commitment of this kind is not compatible with the continued criminalization of blasphemy in Pakistani law.
We solemnly call upon the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to free Asia Bibi.
Jan Kavan, President of the United Nations General Assembly, 2002-2003, Former Foreign Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic
Yang Jianli, Former prisoner of conscience and survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre, President, Initiatives for China
Amina Bouayach, President, Moroccan Organization For Human Rights, Morocco
Alain Jakubowicz, Président de la Licra
Annie Sugier, Présidente de la Ligue du Droit International des Femmes
Dr. Lakhu Luhana, Secretary General, World Sindhi Congress, United Kingdom
Hillel C. Neuer, Executive Director, UN Watch, Switzerland
John Suarez, International Secretary, Directorio Democrático Cubano
Fodé Sylla, Parrain du Collectif Contre le Terrorisme
Lise Haddad, Présidente du Mouvement Pour la Paix et Contre le Terrorisme
Dominique Sopo, Président de SOS Racisme
Dr. Vanee Meisinger, Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women’s Association of Thailand
Alex Gladstein, Director of International Affairs, Human Rights Foundation
Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
Alain Jakubowicz, Président, Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme, France
Mamady Kaba, President, RADDHO, Guinea
Faisal Fulad, Secretary-General, Gulf European Centre for Human Rights, UK
Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign
Phil Harris, Executive Director, Devnet International, Italy
Kabaale G Timothy, African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, Uganda
Eli Hernandez, Assistant Director for Outreach, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, USA
Hu Ping, Editor in Chief, Beijing Spring, USA
Yang Kuanxing, Yibao, USA
Christina Fu, President, New HopeFoundation, USA/China
Michael Craig, President, China Rights Network, Canada
Alim Seytoff, Esq., President, Uyghur American Association, USA
Nechitailo Galina, Vice-President, Environmental Women’s Assembly, Russia
Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Secretary, Gram Bharati Samiti, India
Dickson Ntwiga, Executive Director, Solidarity House International, Kenya
Bonnie Kiconco K. Mutungi, National Coordinator, Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations
Quentin Kanyatsi, Country Director, Search for Common Ground, Cote d’Ivoire
Roy Brown, International Representative, International Humanist and Ethical Union
Ojetunde Olumide, Country Director, African Views Organization, Nigeria
Andreea Buzec, Partners Foundation For Local Development, Romania
Mama Koité Doumbia, Membre du Conseil Administratif de Femnet, Mali
Wodjo Fini Traore, Club Union Africaine de Côte D’Ivoire
Foromo Frédéric Loua, Président, Les Mêmes Droits pour Tous, Guinée
Jarwlee Tweh Geegbe, Executive Director, Rescue Alternatives Liberia
Djingarey Maiga, Femmes et Droits Humains, Mali
Simão Yakitenge Ngala Lutumba, Président, Collectif Multisectoriel pour le
Joy Ngwakwe, African Democracy Forum
Mike Gesa Munabi, President, Students for Global Democracy, Uganda
Philomene Mukendi, Coordonatrice, Anges du Ciel, RDC
Diagne Chanel, Présidente du Comité Soudan
Michèle Vianès, Présidente de Regards de Femmes
Sobhy Gress, Secrétaire Général de Solidarité Copte France
Fazal ur Rehman Afridi, Président de l’Institut de recherche et d’études stratégiques de Khyber
Malka Marcovich, Vice présidente du Comité Laïcité République
Mariam Abdo, Représentante du Rassemblement pour la Démocratie au Liban
Jacky Mamou, Président du Collectif Urgence Darfour
Irène Saya, Présidente de PEREC
Pierre Henry, Directeur Général de France terre d’asile
Séta Papazian, Présidente du Collectif Vigilance Arménienne contre le Négationnisme