Target: President Asif Ali Zardari, members of Pakistani Parliament
Goal: Guarantee a fair trial for Rimsha Masih, an 11-year-old girl accused of burning a copy of the Quran
An 11-year-old Pakistani girl is currently in custody and being charged with blasphemy. Further complicating matters is the fact that the girl is a Christian and she stands accused of burning pages of the Quran. Rao Abdur Raheem, the lawyer for the plaintiff, has stated that he believes the girl is guilty, and that if the courts find her innocent then “God will get a person to do the job.” It is already ridiculous that an 11-year-old should be facing jail time and possibly death for something like this, and to have members of the legal apparatus already pronouncing her guilty before the conclusion of a formal investigation only further skews her chance of unbiased due process. Call on Pakistani officials to protect this girl and her civil liberties at any cost.
The severity associated with Pakistan’s blasphemy law is well documented. Last year a Pakistani governor was assassinated by his own body guard for speaking out against the law. Another incident earlier this year saw a mentally disturbed Pakistani man, who was also accused of blasphemy, forcefully dragged from the police station he was being held in by angry mob, who shot him and then burned his body. In cases such as these, once an accusation is made, the public outcry and condemnation is usually overwhelming and the accused have very little chance of survival, regardless of guilt or innocence. However, there may be a chance the girl receives a fair trial. Ahmed Ludhianvi, one of Pakistan’s most prominent mullahs, has called for a thorough investigation and has said there should be no rush to judgement.
An international outcry of support will signal to the Pakistani government that they are not alone in protecting this girl and her rights. An 11-year-old standing trial for such an offense is already troublesome, but to think she won’t even receive a fair trial and that the facts surrounding the incident are incidental to people who’ve already decided on her guilt is unthinkable. Don’t allow harm to come to this child. Demand she be protected or even extradited if that’s what it takes to keep her safe.
Dear President Zadari and members of the Pakistani Parliament,
We demand the protection and fair treatment for Rimshah Masih, the young girl accused of blasphemy. Given the recent history in Pakistan of those accused of blasphemy being murdered by angry mobs before any trial can take place, it is shameful that Rao Abdur Raheem, the plaintiff’s attorney, is already pronouncing the girl guilty. This skews what little chance she has of receiving a fair investigation. Raheem has also said that if the girl is not found guilty by the courts that God will find someone to kill her. We know this is not an empty threat, and that is why you must step in and ensure this girl is not murdered. You must do all that is in your power to protect Rimshah Masih since due process has already failed her.
If it requires extradition, surely this is better than a child being put to death by bloodthirsty mobs that are uninterested in guilt or innocence. We urge you to stand behind Ahmed Ludhianvi’s call for temperance in this matter. Do all that is in your power to ensure the facts come to light, and if Rimshah Masih is ‘guilty’ she does no deserve to die. No 11-year-old should be held accountable to these standards. Extradite her and her family is she is found guilty. Protect her at all costs. Anything less endorses murder, ignorance and intolerance, while doing away with any concept of the innocence of youth.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit by Flickr via Jason Kuffer