A Christian family in Lahore (Pakistan) has been waiting for this news for many years: Asia Bibi has been declared innocent by the Supreme Court of that country, which confirms that she was falsely accused.
Sentenced to death for drinking from the same source as Muslim women
Asia Bibi was imprisoned in 2010 and sentenced to death by hanging under a false accusation of having blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad, for the mere fact of having drunk from the same source as Muslim women. This woman has been in prison for eight years, but after this acquittal the danger to her has not yet stopped. According to Actuall, on October 8, the Islamist party Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) warned the Supreme Court against any “concession or indulgence” for the Christian woman: “If there is an attempt to deliver her to another country, there will be terrible consequences,” they threatened. In Pakistan there have already been demonstrations by Islamists threatening to kill Asia Bibi if she is released.
One of the organizations that has most supported Asia Bibi is from Spain
Today it would be unfair not to remember that the Spanish citizen platform HazteOir.org has been one of the organizations that has worked the most to achieve the liberation of this Christian mother. In addition to making petitions on the net for that purpose, HazteOir.org gave one of its 2012 awards to Asia Bibi, an award that her husband, Asiq Mashi, received. He said: “I am proud because the Spanish nation is with me today.“ This moral support from Spain has been very important for the family, but more important has been the material and personal support: in May 2014 the president of HazteOir.org, Ignacio Arsuaga, and several members of the association made a dangerous trip to Pakistan, facing a grave risk of kidnapping, to support the family of Asia Bibi and the Christians of the country. The association launched a fundraiser to pay the lawyers of the Christian woman. Once there the authorities did not allow them to visit her.
The husband and the oldest daughter of Asia Bibi were in Spain in December 2012 to receive one of the HazteOir.org’s Awards, given to her mother.
The silence of the socialist governments of Zapatero and Sánchez on Asia Bibi
Unfortunately, during all these years the silence of the Spanish governments on Asia Bibi has been almost total. As you remember, the first time I told you about your case was in 2010, about the silent response we received the thousands of citizens who signed a petition from HazteOir.org addressed to the Zapatero government to support that Christian mother. The socialist governments of Zapatero and Sánchez have not made a single statement of support for Asia Bibi. The Socialist Party’s hatred againts Christians seems to have no borders.
In 2012 the government of Rajoy committed to give asylum to Asia Bibi in Spain
HazteOir.org has been working with the Spanish government for years for this case. In December 2012, HO announced that Rajoy’s government had promised to give Asia Bibi asylum if she was released, after a meeting of the president of HazteOir.org with the husband and daughter of Asia Bibi (who were then in Madrid to receive the award granted by the association) with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I hope the Sánchez government keeps that commitment.
There is a fact that is already worrying, and that is that the statement published in 2012 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to translate this commitment has disappeared from its website (you can read it here, because I copied it in this blog). The next day, Europa Press reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had transferred its support to the family. According to that agency, the then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Gonzalo de Benito, promised that “the moment Bibi leaves the prison, the first thing they will do is talk to the government of Pakistan to guarantee their safety in the transfer from the jail to the embassy or another safe place, since her family fears that she will be murdered as soon as she is released.”
The tears of Eisham, daughter of Asia Bibi, remembering the arrest of her mother
In April 2015, the husband and one of Asia Bibi’s daughters returned to Spain, again invited by HazteOir.org, to participate in an international congress on persecuted Christians. The event was visited by José María Gil Tamayo, general secretary of the Spanish Bishops Conference, who greeted the husband of the imprisoned Christian, Asiq Mashi, and his daughter Eisham, who was then 15 years old.
I was in that congress and I told you then one of the most painful moments. Eisham said that when his mother was arrested, she was only nine years old (almost ten years old), and witnessed the beating and humiliation they did to her mother: “While they were beating her, she asked for water, but nobody offered her a glass of water, they did not give him a truce. I myself needed water because I was there and they were coiling me in a bad way. Someone grabbed me and pushed me against a wall. They were abusing my mother, they ripped off her clothes …” Eisham burst into tears. At that moment I made this photo, so that those who do not listen would see it, those who have preferred to look the other way and those who have even been involved in tripping those who have helped the family, so that they can see an instant the suffering they have insisted on ignoring.
I hope that Asia Bibi will soon be free and can, at last, celebrate Christmas with her family, even if it has to be far from her home, since the threats of the Islamists make them run a huge danger. The path for Asia Bibi is not over here: help will be needed to bring her to Spain if the grant of the promised asylum in 2012 is finally confirmed. When that request for help arrives, please remember those Eisham tears and do not look over another side.