Target: Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan
Goal: Immediately and unconditionally free a woman sentenced to die for allegedly blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad
Asia Bibi, a Christian Pakistani woman, was having an argument with a Muslim woman when she allegedly made a derogatory remark about the Prophet Muhammad. Now she has been sentenced to die for her “blasphemy” and will be killed unless the authorities can be convinced to halt her execution. Sign the petition imploring the prime minister of Pakistan to intercede and prevent the execution of Asia Bibi.
Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws are incredibly strict; in 1991 the Federal Shariat Court ruled that blasphemy was a capital crime, and it upheld its ruling again in 2014. In recent years, several prominent public figures have been killed as a result of their questioning the harshness of the blasphemy laws or advocating Bibi’s case: Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, was killed in January, 2011, and Shabaz Bhatti, the Minorities Minister, was killed in March of the same year.
Amnesty International is quick to point out that the laws are arbitrarily enforced and are often employed as a way to win personal disputes or settle scores. They are detrimental to Muslims as well as non-Muslims and constitute a grave violation of international human rights standards, which dictate that the death penalty is only to be used for the “most serious crimes.” This is usually taken to mean the “intentional killing” of another person. Furthermore, Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws infringe upon citizens’ right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.
Asia Bibi maintains that she never made the comments she is accused of making. She was denied access to a lawyer during her questioning and on the last day of her trial, further compounding the unfairness of the case against her. Amnesty reports that she has been “isolated for her own protection” for nearly the entire duration of her imprisonment and that her health is suffering as a result.
Asia Bibi’s life is in grave danger from both her executioners and from religious extremist vigilantes. It is imperative that her death sentence be overturned and that she be freed and offered whatever protection she and her family require.
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing to implore you to overturn the death sentence against Asia Bibi, who stands accused of blasphemy. She maintains that she never uttered the blasphemy of which she is accused, and her lawyer argues that the entire case against her is based on hearsay. Baseless accusations should never be considered just cause for taking the life of another human being. I urge you to do what is humane, what is just, and what is right: overturn Bibi’s sentence, free her immediately and unconditionally, and offer her and her family any protection they may require.
Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws violate a number of international human rights standards. In addition to impinging upon individuals’ rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, the law’s insistence on capital punishment for blasphemers violates the internationally-agreed-upon rule that capital punishment is only to be employed for the “most serious crimes”–namely, the “intentional killing” of another human being.
Please do not sentence a woman to death based on flimsy evidence that she violated an unfair law. Free Asia Bibi and offer protection to her and her family.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Kasim 39 via Wikimedia Commons