sabato 25 agosto 2012

PAKISTAN - Girl accused of blasphemy ‘denied meeting with lawyer’ .

Pakistanis protesting against the arrest of Christians — File Photo
Pakistanis protesting against the arrest of Christians — Ap 
ISLAMABAD: A lawyer for a young Pakistani Christian girl arrested on blasphemy charges in a poor suburb of Islamabad claimed Thursday he had been refused a meeting with her.

Police arrested the girl, Rimsha, who reportedly has Down’s Syndrome, in a low-income neighbourhood of the capital last Thursday after she was accused of burning papers containing verses from the Quran, and remanded her for 14 days.
Rimsha, aged between 11 and 16, is being held in a jail in Islamabad’s twin city Rawalpindi, and her case has prompted concern from Western governments and fury from rights campaigners.
“The lawyers are facing difficulties to see the accused girl. The jail authorities have told them to get permission from the top authorities,” Shamaun Alfred Gill, a spokesman for All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), told AFP.
Her legal team said they had approached the higher authorities in Punjab province but could not get a go ahead for the meeting.
“I myself contacted the inspector general (of prisons) by phone and he told me that he will call me back, but I am still waiting to speak to him,” Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, one of Rimsha’s lawyers, told AFP.
“He is not receiving my calls now. Legally, they can’t stop a lawyer seeing his client in the jail but the authorities are refusing us a meeting.” But Farooq Nazir, the inspector-general of Punjab prisons, told AFP there was no restriction on Rimsha meeting her lawyer or immediate family and insisted she was being cared for.
Earlier, an activist who said he visited Rimsha said that the girl was too frightened to speak in a prison where she is being held in solitary confinement for her safety.
Christian activist Xavier William said he visited Masih at a police station where she was first held, and then this week in prison.
“She was frightened and traumatised,” William told Reuters.
“She was assaulted and in very bad shape. She had bruises on her face and on her hands,” he added, referring to an attack by a mob in her village on the edge of Islamabad after she was accused of blasphemy.
Rimsha is being held in the same jail as Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who last year gunned down Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who had declared Pakistan’s strict anti-blasphemy legislation “a black law”.
Chaudhry said that they have also filed an application with a court in Islamabad to set up a medical panel to determine Rimsha’s age.
“We want the court to constitute a commission to judge the age of Rimsha, because, the church records show she is 11 years old only. While her age mentioned in the police report is 16,” he said.

Christians flee girl’s village

Masih’s arrest triggered an exodus of several hundred Christians from her poverty-stricken village after local mosques reported over their loudspeakers what the girl was alleged to have done. Emotions were running high there.
A neighbour named Tasleem said her daughter saw Masih throwing away trash that included the burned religious material.
“If Christians burn our Quran, we will burn them,” she told Reuters.
Other Muslims were more conciliatory.
“We protected the rest of the Christians,” said Masih’s landlord Malik Amjad Mohammad. “People here support them.”
Christians, who make up four per cent of Pakistan’s population of 180 million, have been especially concerned about the blasphemy law, saying it offers them no protection.
Convictions hinge on witness testimony and are often linked to vendettas, they complain.
President Asif Ali Zardari has told officials to produce a report on the girl’s arrest, which has brought protests from Amnesty International, British-based Christian group Barnabas Fund, and others.
Masih is due to appear in court in the next 10 days. She could be formally charged with blasphemy.

Spotlight on blasphemy law

The case has put another spotlight on Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law, which rights groups say dangerously discriminates against the country’s minority groups.
Under the law, anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime and faces the death penalty, but activists say vague terminology has led to its misuse.
Convictions are common, although the death sentence has never been carried out. Most convictions are thrown out on appeal, but mobs have killed many people accused of blasphemy.
Christians, who make up four per cent of Pakistan’s population of 180 million, have been especially concerned about the blasphemy law, saying it offers them no protection.
Convictions hinge on witness testimony and are often linked to vendettas, they complain.
In 2009, 40 houses and a church were set ablaze by a mob of 1,000 Muslims in the town of Gojra, in Punjab province. At least seven Christians were burned to death. The attacks were triggered by reports of the desecration of the Quran.
Two Christian brothers accused of writing a blasphemous letter against the Prophet Mohammad were gunned down outside a court in the eastern city of Faisalabad in July of 2010.

http://amnestypak.blogspot.it/2012/08/blog-post_24.html?spref=fb

1 commento:


  1. http://amnesty.org/en/news/pakistan-ensure-safety-girl-whose-life-risk-2012-08-21

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