Target: Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights, Pervaiz Rashid
Goal: Negate the death sentence for a Pakistani man who suffers from schizophrenia
The recent death sentence passed down against Mohammad Ashgar by a court in Pakistan is a blatant disregard for his human rights. Mr. Ashgar was arrested in 2010 for allegedly writing letters in which he claimed that he was a prophet. Recently, a court in Pakistan sentenced him to death. His lawyers maintain that the court never established that he intended to post the letters, as Mr. Ashgar is both physically and mentally ill. Mr. Ashgar suffered a stroke in 2000 and was diagnosed by a mental health expert in Scotland as suffering from schizophrenia, and Mr. Ashgar attempted suicide shortly before his arrest in 2010. His arrest and subsequent conviction and sentence to death goes against international human rights law.
Mr. Ashgar was convicted under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws that claim to protect Islam. In fact, they operate outside of the teachings of Islam. These laws have created an atmosphere of religiously motivated violence that has led to many convictions similar to the sentence that Mr. Ashgar was given. The laws are very vague and enforced sporadically, and human rights organizations claim that these laws are often used to settle personal scores. There is also a history of prisoners held on such charges being killed by their guards or other prisoners. Even those who are accused and remain outside of prison have been subject to extreme violence. These laws must be revised to protect the citizens of Pakistan.
In 2013, at least 226 people were sentenced to death in Pakistan. That brings the total to approximately 8,500 people on death row, according to human rights organizations. An unknown number of these individuals are on death row for ‘religious blasphemy’, including Mr. Ashgar. These sentences must be overturned and those accused must be allowed new trials. Sign this petition and demand that the Pakistani government do more to protect the religious freedoms, and the lives, of those accused of religious blasphemy.
Dear Minister Pervaiz Rashid,
The recent death sentence given to Mohammad Ashgar is against international human rights laws. I ask that he immediately and unconditionally be given a new trial. Mr. Ashgar suffers from schizophrenia and is also quite physically ill. Keeping him in prison is a great violation of his human rights.
It seems highly unlikely that Mr. Ashgar would have been in a sound mental state when he published the letters claiming that he was a prophet. Sentencing him to die is cruel and unusual. I ask that your government do all that it can to protect his life and provide him with the medical care that he needs.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tariq Babur via Wikipedia Commons