Suffering in a prison cell, Asia Bibi and her legal team are hoping the 6th attempt at an appeal will go through. Her family is praying for her release. Two of Asia’s supporters have been assassinated. If her appeal is rejected, she will be hung. All because she asked a question.
Sentenced to death over a cup of water and a religious question. Asia Bibi has been imprisoned since 2009, in Pakistan, waiting for her appeal to be considered. She will be the first Christian woman to be executed under blasphemy law in Pakistan. All people that are condemned, around 8,000, will be executed. Asia Bibi’s last hope rests on her appeal and that appeal has been delayed five times.
Asia Bibi is a Christian wife and mother. She worked in the fields for a Muslim family and alongside other Muslim women. Her family is one of three Christian families in their village. During a day’s work, Asia went to get water for the women to drink. Muslim women refused to drink because Asia had contaminated the water by being a Christian. That sparked a religious debate between the Muslim women and Christian Asia Bibi.
At one point, Asia asked the women “Our Christ sacrificed His life for our sins…Our Christ is alive. What has Muhammad done for you?” The women grabbed and beat Asia then turned her over to a group of men. These men dragged her into a locked room and pronounced over the mosque loudspeakers that Asia Bibi’s face would be blackened and she would be paraded through the village on a donkey.
Upon hearing this, other Christians ran for the police who rescued Asia. However, local Muslim leaders pressured the police into charging her with blasphemy.
Sentence & Appeals
In November 2010, Asia was sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy. Her attorneys immediately filed for an appeal. She was convicted of blasphemy in a highly suspect trial, with no clear evidence to support the charges. She will be the first Christian woman to be executed under the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Asia Bibi’s last hope is in her appeal and, due to militant Muslims putting heavy pressure on the courts, that appeal has yet to be heard.
The following January, two months after her sentencing, the governor of her province was assassinated for his support of Asia. Two months after that, the only Christian cabinet member, who had spoken of his support of Asia, was also assassinated.
It is now 2014, five years after the incident, and Asia Bibi is still waiting for her appeal. It has been scheduled five times, and each time it has been delayed, rescheduled, or simply disappeared off the docket. If her appeal is upheld, and she is released, her fight is not over. She will be in hiding from the Taliban, as her family already is. But that worry is for another day. For now, she needs to escape execution.
Her last appeal suddenly disappeared off the docket for unknown reasons. Lawyer Sardar Mushtaq Gill has stated that the administration of the Lahore High Court (where Asia Bibi should start her appeal process) has received “orders not to schedule hearings for the moment and we do not know for how much longer.” This follows the sudden disappearance of her case from the docket on May 27, 2014, which was to be her fifth appeal attempt.
September 9 – Her Next Appeals Date
Now, Asia Bibi has been scheduled to appear in court for her appeal on September 9, 2014. Her lawyer, after pledging to work his hardest to free Asia, had an assassination attempt at his home. On August 9, 2014, a gunman shot into his house in an attempt to kill him. He survived without being hit. He remains steadfast in seeing justice for Asia.
It remains to be seen if her appeal will be heard. While she waits for the court to decide whether or not to send her to her death, she is working hard to escape death within the prison. Her family longs for her return as she has been gone for over 5 years.