Friends of the ALIVE network of churches (supported by Open Doors) in Pakistan have done research into the circumstance in which Aasiya (Asia) Bibi, a Christian mother, has been held in prison for the last six years. This is the second of two updates.
Aasiya has been sentenced to death under Pakistan’s infamous blasphemy laws. That sentence was confirmed by several courts. Late this summer, the Supreme Court allowed her a leave to appeal. In effect, this meant her death sentence was temporarily halted until the Supreme Court rules in her appeal case. It may take six to eight years until the Supreme Court hears her case again.
In the meantime, Aasiya’s case is still critical. She is still in confinement and more at risk than ever before. Extremists have threatened to take the law into their own hands and assassinate Aasiya themselves.
“They drive around the Multan Jail and fire their heavy ammunition into the air to intimidate her and any legal assistance she has,” says a pastor who was able to meet Aasiya in the early years of her imprisonment, but has since only been able to go and pray at the jail without any hope of seeing her.
While she waits, Aasiya does so as a sick, lonely woman. She suffers from internal bleeding and poor health. She longs to be reunited with her husband and five children.
Aasiya Needs Your Prayers
“In Pakistan and abroad, Aasiya has become a symbol of suffering for one’s faith,” an ALIVE worker tells Open Doors. “She is not just another victim lacerated by Pakistan’s hatred and injustice towards a broken and beaten community. She is a symbol for a community which pays for its faith with its mothers, wives, fathers, husbands and children. The rage and brutality against Pakistani Christians continues today.”
She adds: “The question on most people’s mind is ‘why does God allow this to happen?’ For me, the purpose is clear. Aasiya is a symbol for all Christians, both in Pakistan and internationally; she is a living example of the need to come to the Lord in prayer. Our ALIVE teams feel deeply invested in cases like Aasiya’s. We have been raising prayer support for Aasiya for many years and have been encouraging local Christians to take the lead in praying for their sister in prison.”
Another ALIVE worker says: “We wake up every morning and open the newspapers in the hope that we do not see Aasiya’s name in the headlines.”
A Pakistani pastor adds: “We need the international community to keep telling Aasiya’s story so she is not forgotten. Do not antagonize the judiciary and the police here in Pakistan, but do keep reminding them that you have not forgotten Aasiya’s predicament,” says the local pastor, who emphasizes the danger of the police becoming enraged by the international press highlighting brutality against Aasiya. He believes the backlash of that on Aasiya would be severe.
Pakistan is ranked #8 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians.
Complied by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.