Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Daily Khabrain reported on BPCA visit to 10 Downing Street.



Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Second CLAAS treatment of victims and misrepresentation of facts by leading charity cause concern again!

We have received this news from Advocate Mushtaq Gill who alleges that Pakistani Christian charity CLAAS have been entrenched in corrupt practices.  We remind you of previous false representation highlighted by the BPCA for the same group CLAAS:  (click here)  (click here) (click here)

We post Mushtaq Gill's update in verbatim which is supported by a link to a story in the Express tribune.

LAHORE:A number of lawyers and non-government organisations are in a race to take the credit for representing death-row prisoner Aasia Bibi in an appeal against her conviction in a blasphemy case, The Express Tribune has learnt.

There are at least 12 lawyers associated with this case – four representing the complainant against Aasia Bibi and seven others, including MPA Sardar Khalil Tahir Sindhu, claiming to represent Aasia Bibi. And yet, a Faisalabad-based organisation, which defended her throughout her trial, has been disassociated from the appeal after a Lahore-based organisation hired the same lawyer on a bigger fee than the one the Faisalabad organisation, Bishop John Joseph Shaheed Foundation (BJJSF), was paying him.

The BJJSF had hired Advocate SK Chaudhry to file Aasia Bibi’s appeal in 2010. In 2013, Joseph Francis, director of Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), offered Chaudhry Rs300,000 to represent Aasia Bibi in the Lahore High Court on the behalf of CLAAS, which Chaudhry agreed to do.

And even though the cause list issued by the court mentions seven lawyers, Francis sent statements to several newspapers insisting that no lawyers other than the ones hired by the CLAAS were representing Aasia Bibi.
In a statement, Francis claimed that Advocate Naeem Shakir and SK Chaudhry were defending Aasia Bibi on the behalf of CLAAS. However, Shakir has categorically denied having any connection with CLAAS. He told The Express Tribune that he had nothing to do with CLAAS and was representing Aasia Bibi on behalf of her husband Ashiq Masih. He said Advocate Nadeem Anthony was also with him on the case.

Michael Johnson, an office bearer of the BJJSF, told The Express Tribune that the BJJSF had defended Aasia in the trial court and had filed her appeal before the Lahore High Court “through a lawyer later hijacked by CLAAS”. Considering the situation, he said the BJJSF had decided to disassociate itself from the case.

Johnson Nadeem, who takes care of Aasia Bibi’s family, has told The Express Tribune that Aasia Bibi’s family had not asked the CLAAS or any other organisation to represent Aasia Bibi. Advocate Naeem Shakir has been their attorney for the last two weeks, he said.

Nadeem said that Francis had hired the BJJSF’s previous lawyer so the BJJSF had asked Aashiq to sign a letter of attorney on their behalf. Even though Aashiq did not sign the letter he told Michael Johnson that they had no objection if the BJJSF claimed that Shakir was their lawyer.

Nadeem said Francis had tried to convince Aashiq to let them represent Aasia Bibi in court. After a two-hour debate on the subject, Aashiq told Francis to keep himself away from the case. But the CLAAS then hired Advocate SK Chaudhry, who was already engaged for the case. Bishop Francis told The Express Tribune that he had paid Advocate SK Chaudhry Rs300,000 to switch over from the BJJSF to the CLAAS. He said the lawyer had complained that the BJJSF was paying him a meagre fee. Francis admitted that he had hired the lawyer without the consent of Aasia Bibi or her family because Aashiq had not given him a letter of attorney.

Advocate SK Chaudhry told The Express Tribune that he had been previously hired by the BJJSF, which had given him a meagre compensation but then the CLAAS offered him a decent fee and he accepted. “Michael Johnson is annoyed with me because of this,” he said.

Aslam Parvaiz Sahotra, chairman of the Human Liberation Commission Pakistan, told The Express Tribune that he had also engaged a lawyer for the case that had been hijacked by Francis. He also accused Francis of superseding the power of attorney for Advocate Naseem Anjum, whom Sahotra had hired for Sawan Masih’s bail. Sawan Masih was sentenced to death for blasphemy a few days ago. Sahotra said, after superseding Anjum, the lawyer hired by the CLAAS withdrew Sawan Masih’s bail application so that he would stay in jail, allowing Francis to “mint more money off him”.

Commenting on this allegation, Francis admitted that his lawyer had superseded Anjum and withdrawn the bail application. But, he said, he had done that because bails were never granted in cases tried under Section 295-C (blasphemy). Francis said the CLAAS received sufficient donations and did not need to keep Sawan Masih in prison for this.

Aasia Bibi’s husband Aashiq Masih told The Express Tribune that Advocate SK Chaudhry had been their lawyer for this case, but now it was Advocate Naeem Shakir. He said Francis had tried to convince him to sign the letter of attorney, had even quarrelled with him over it, but Aashiq said he had refused. “Francis misbehaved with me after I refused,” he said.

Advocates Amjad Ali Sherazi, Shehzad Chaudhry, Muhammad Yasin Badar (a member of Free Legal Aid and Settlement), and MPA Sardar Khalil Tahir Sindhu, parliamentary secretary for human rights, minorities’ affairs and law and parliamentary affairs, also represent Aasia Bibi as her counsel. On the other hand, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, Hamid Hameed Chaudhry, Khawaja Ibrar Majal and Mian Asghar Mahmood represent the complainant.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2014.

NOTE:
In our life and work of LEAD,we worked on three REGISTERED cases(in which accused were arrested and sent to judicial lockup) of blasphemy and in these three cases ,we managed to get released the accused on bail.1.Martha Bibi(got bail in 2007 after 3 months),2.Zahid Masih (got bail in 2010 after one month) 3.Khuram Shahzad (got bail in 2012.And same could be possible in the case of Sawan Masih but our power of attorney superseded and bail petition was withdrawn.

Thanks God bless you all national and international organizations,who are enjoying the victims.Please I have my family,I hope you understand!




Monday, 14 April 2014

Buy our new book all profits go towards helping victims of persecution in Pakistan!


Wilson Chowdhry holds up two copies of the BPCA's new publication.

The Targeting of ‘Minority Others’ in Pakistan is a thought provoking and path-breaking book that has been published by the British Pakistani Christian Association. It examines the shocking nature of targeting and discriminatory actions against religious, ethnic and political ‘minority Others’ in Pakistan. It identifies many of the policy decisions and actions of state and non-state actors that have facilitated targeting actions (sometimes of a genocidal nature) against Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus, Baloch, Hazaras, Shi'as, Sikhs and many 'Others'. The targeting of 'Tribal Others' through drone warfare, the 'Kill and Dump' policy in Balochistan, the repercussions of Pakistan's blasphemy laws and the genocidal targeting of East Pakistan are key concerns of the book.

The structural nature of the state since its inception in 1947 and the very nature of the dynamics of civilian-military relations, India-Pakistan tensions, Cold War and ‘War on Terror’ post-9/11 deliberations and initiatives by governments, political parties, politicians and generals are analysed in detail.

The authors have distinguished profiles. Desmond Fernandes is a genocide scholar, co-author of The Education System in Pakistan: Discrimination and the Targeting of the 'Other' (BPCA: London, 2014) and member of the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities. Formerly a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at De Montfort University (UK), he has written extensively on issues relating to genocide and state targeting of the ‘Other’. Nathanael Lewis is a researcher and writer for the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), writing many of its press releases and blog posts, as well as its submission to the UNHCR periodic review for Pakistan, and its response to questions from the research bureau of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Bureau, much of which has now been utilized in the country reports Canada is now using to assess asylum claimants from Pakistan. Faiz M. Baluch is a student of journalism at London Metropolitan University and a human rights activist working with the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. Ranbir Singh is Chair of the Hindu Human Rights Group. Kavita Takechandani and Dr. Rubina Greenwood are from the World Sindhi Congress and their contribution formed part of the World Sindhi Congress’ 2012 submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), for consideration in its summary of submissions for Pakistan’s appearance in the fourteenth Universal Period Review.

This book will be of immense interest to concerned members of the public, human rights activists, investigative journalists, academics, students, asylum seekers, asylum rights and anti-deportation campaigning organisations, secular and faith-based groups, NGO's, MP's and policy planners.

A paperback copy of the book costs £15.00 + P&P let us know if you would like a copy!

No end in sight for Asia Bibi's heartache!

Sign our petition for Asia Bibi (click here)

Today despite great expectation Asia Bibi's blasphemy trial has been postponed once again.  Mushtaq Gill an advocate present at the court sent a text this morning confirming that the Division Bench had been dissolved. This means that a new date will have to be set for the hearing, ensuring a longer period of incarceration for the poor, quietly suffering mother of five.  This is now the third time Asia has had her trial deferred.

Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA said;

"I feel for Asia Bibi, her confidence of ever seeing justice must be waning.  Expectations of justice and being reunited with her family grow as the trial dates near, each deferment simply shatters the fragile hope she maintains.  If the courts are incapable of justice then more focus should be spent on challenging Pakistan's president to enact his powers of official pardon."

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Asia Bibi, or Aasiya Noreen, was born in 1971. She is the first woman in Pakistan's modern history to be sentenced to death by hanging. She was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In June 2009, Noreen was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death.

The verdict, which was reached in a district court and would need to be upheld by a superior court, has received worldwide attention. Various petitions, including one that received 400,000 signatures, were organized to protest Noreen's imprisonment. She received less sympathy from her neighbors and Islamic religious leaders in the country, some of whom adamantly called for her to be executed. Christian minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both killed for advocating on her behalf and opposing the blasphemy laws.Noreen's family has gone into hiding due to receiving death threats and has voiced concerns that she could be killed by extremists if released from prison.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

David Cameron to raise blasphemy laws with Pakistan President


Wilson and Juliet outside 10 Downing Street after an Easter Celebration hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron

David Cameron today (Wednesday 9th April) met with a number of influential Christians at 10 Downing Street, among them Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA).  According to Chowdhry, the Prime Minister said that he was deeply concerned about the persecution of Christians around the world, and also that he wanted Christians to engage in more evangelism in the UK. 
Chowdhry said that he raised the situation of Christians in Pakistan with the Prime Minister, and in particular Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, and Mr Cameron indicated he would be raising the issue of blasphemy laws with Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussein in an upcoming visit. 

After the event, Chowdhry said ‘Mr Cameron’s promised efforts on behalf of the victims of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws is welcome news.  However, against this we must not underestimate the deeply entrenched support for the blasphemy laws amongst the significant portion of the Pakistani population and elite that is, shall we say, rather retrograde.  We look forward to hearing what response Mr Cameron receives.’ 


Chowdhry also said that Mr Cameron had made gestures of support about one or two of the BPCA’s activities, but declined to give any more specifics.  However, he said ‘I would like to take the opportunity to point out again the plight of one victim of the blasphemy laws, Asia Bibi, a mother of five who is on death row for alleged ‘blasphemy’.  Her initial ‘crime’ was actually an act of kindness, in that she offered water to fellow agricultural labourers, but because, as a Christian, her touch had defiled the water for Muslims, they launched an aggressive verbal attack on her Christian faith and on Jesus, and when she defended her faith in Christ, she was accused of blasphemy.  Her appeal – after a number of disturbing delays – is due to be held on the 14th April, and the only just sentence is to overturn this utterly unjust and barbaric verdict and release her.  International pressure is a must to counter the intimidation of extremists calling for her death.  To this end, our good friends Ooberfuse, have remixed and re-released their song calling for her freedom.  This can be found on the new website http://freeasiabibi.com/home along with a plea from Asia Bibi from her prison cell.  We have also relaunched our original 2010 petition calling for Asia’s release, which can be found here.  http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/justice4asia  We encourage anyone of goodwill and conscience, whatever their religion or faith, to sign the petition and spread the word for others to do so.  We would also encourage respectful letters and emails to the Pakistani government, including the Consulates and other diplomatic missions in this country at this crucial time for Asia.

Read Belfast Telegraph report;  (click here)

Independent report; (click here)


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Easter crazy children prepare for Easter Parade



Children display flags made for Redbridge Easter Parade.

Children of East Ilford were busy creating flags, banners, crowns, necklaces and shakers to be used at the Redbridge Easter Parade on 21st April 2014.   The event held at Clementswood Community Centre on Monday and Tuesday (8th and 9th April) had participants from four different Redbridge schools including, Highlands Primary, Cleveland School, SS Peter's and Paul's, Winston Way and also Thamesview Infants in Barking.

Children came from a variety of faith backgrounds including, Christians, Hindus and Muslims and all created traditional Easter items that once would have been commonplace in the UK.  The course was led by Elaine Hobbs, who is on the committee of the Redbridge Easter Parade; She said; 

"It was wonderful to see so many children participating together despite their many diversities. Easter is a time for love, peace and new beginnings and the children exhibited these attributes."

Wilson Chowdhry the event Manager for the Easter Parade said; "Many of the wonderful creations will be used during our Easter Parade in the centre of town, to be held on Easter Monday.  Allowing local people to enjoy a vivid and colourful procession."

The Easter Monday parade will run through the centre of town and a concert will be held on the town hall steps, other activities include; face painting, Henna art, Free sports activities, a bouncy castle and a funfair. The organisers are inviting people of all diversities to come and join the festive fun.


Children displaying their flags.





A welcoming sign advised participants of what they could expect during the workshop.



Children cut out coloured paper to create their stunning designs.



Wonderful shapes and bright colours made eye-catching creations.



A bright cross was made by this child. 



Stained glass window designs were bright and cheerful.



Children developed new creative art skills.



All smiles, great teamwork was visible.



The stained glass window designs caught the children's imagination.



Busy at work the participants used all the available resources.



Children enjoyed making necklaces.







Elaine described how to make the banners.



Children posed questions, eager to learn more.



Five different schools were represented.



Wow those are great necklaces!



Pastor Bryon Jones Chair of the Easter Parade Committee popped in to see how things were running.



Easter hats were adorned.


Art work was of a good standard.



Ooops! That crown has slipped!


Children than designed shakers to be used during the procession.



A moment of quiet time enabled the children to reflect on the true message of Easter.  Elaine described the ultimate sacrifice Christ made of His life, for all mankind.



Children interacted well and were willing to learn.



Everyone was given a chance to speak.



Children all has something to say.



Great togetherness was exhibited by children.





Monday, 7 April 2014

DAY OF FREEDOM DRAWS NEARER FOR PAKISTAN'S FAMOUS DEATH ROW PRISONER

LONDON BAND REMIX BATTLE CRY FOR RELEASE OF PAKISTAN'S FAMOUS DEATH ROW PRISONER

(Click her to sign our petition for Asia Bibi)

In 7 days time on 14th April the twice-postponed appeal of Asia Bibi will be heard before Lahore's High Court. London band Ooberfuse's defiant battle-cry anthem Free Asia Bibi has recently been remixed by German EDM funkster Kinky Roland and will be released on 10 April to mark the occasion. The track can be heard here: (Click here)

Bibi's life has been dangling on a thread since her condemnation to death in 2011 triggered an international outcry. Since her incarceration in June 2011 she has been the target of death threats from gaolers and fellow in-mates. Her case has caused the assassination of 2 high profile Pakistani politicians, Shabaz Bhatti (Minister for Minorities) and Salman Taseer (Governor of Punjab).

Sidra, one of Asia's five children, cannot understand why her family has become the target of so much hate. Face worn by anxiety she says : 'Our lives stopped when Mummy went away. My sisters and I cry every day because we miss her so much. We don't know if she will ever come back; we're very afraid of what might happen.' 

Spokesperson for Britain's Pakistani Christian community, Wilson Chowdhry, aka Wizard MC, directly appeals for Bibi's release in the remix. He says : "Hopefully this time after two inexplicable adjournments in February and March this year the flaws in Pakistan's legal system will be overcome. Legal authorities must feel confident and secure enough to make just decisions and fulfil their duty to appear at court hearings. The hatred and animosity initially displayed by millions incensed at the allegations made against Asia Bibi have now softened into petitions for leniency in the intervening years. For the sake of justice and the greater good of Pakistani society it is timely now for Asia to be released." 

Hal from ooberfuse, who translated Bibi's autobiography into English, adds : 'I am still haunted by Asia's concluding words in her autobiography "Ten million people want to kill me...Now that you know me, tell those around you what is happening. Let them know about it. I believe this is my only chance of not dying in the pit of this dungeon. I need you! Save me!" That was over 2 years ago. The passage of time seems to have quelled the violent storms of hatred towards Asia that resulted in assassinations and sinister death threats. We have deliberately timed our remix to coincide with the hearing of the High Court appeal in the hope that justice and mercy will at last be served.' 

Cherrie, ooberfuse's front woman, says : 'the imprisonment of a vulnerable, uneducated woman for manufactured crimes and trumped up charges is a travesty in any society. It is compounded in Asia's case as she has 5 children. Their childhoods will be irreversibly scarred by the absence of their mother during their growing years. We want our remix to be a celebration of freedom to heal these emotional wounds and to herald peace in the future.' 

END

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Asia Bibi, or Aasiya Noreen, was born in 1971. She is the first woman in Pakistan's modern history to be sentenced to death by hanging. She was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In June 2009, Noreen was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death.

The verdict, which was reached in a district court and would need to be upheld by a superior court, has received worldwide attention. Various petitions, including one that received 400,000 signatures, were organized to protest Noreen's imprisonment. She received less sympathy from her neighbors and Islamic religious leaders in the country, some of whom adamantly called for her to be executed. Christian minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both killed for advocating on her behalf and opposing the blasphemy laws.Noreen's family has gone into hiding due to receiving death threats and has voiced concerns that she could be killed by extremists if released from prison.

ooberfuse (www.ooberfuse.com) are an electropop band from Woolwich.Their music is supported by BBC Introducing Tom Robinson, Amazing Radio's Jim Gellatly and Boy George. Guardian Music has featured the band describing them as "odd and disquieting." They have recently embarked on a 20-date UK tour, having been handpicked by BBC Radio 1's Huw Stephens in a campaign to bring back authentic live music to UK universities.

Their web-site describes them as follows : oberfuse are steered by the marvellous tracing a secure way over pathless seas. Hurried out of the common haunts of man, even to the wildest oceans and unvisited regions, they are lured from the trivial customs of daily life by the enticements of their muse. Who has taught them how to produce the harmonious melodies interlacing their compositions? Their music is ruled by a passion arising like a mountain river from noble and almost forgotten sources. The magnificent sublime conjured in their audio adventures elevate from all littleness of feeling subduing and tranquilising the superficiality of modern life.

They pioneer a new way…they explore unknown powers unfolding to the world its deepest mysteries. They impregnate despair with fresh enthusiasm restoring a lost naiveté that cannot conform to an acknowledged system. Their songs are the audio footprints, the remnants left behind of people impelled towards invisible things.

http://freeasiabibi.com/home

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIXEdMamMYY