Pakistan Teens Face Death For Religious Graffiti
Ahmadi Children May Face Death Penalty under Blasphemy Law in Pakistan
For almost 30 years Ahmadi Muslims have been continually stripped of their basic human rights under Pakistan's Blasphemy laws. Now four children and one adult are wrongly facing the death penalty or life imprisonment for crimes they did not commit.
These children have been falsely charged under Section 295-C of the Blasphemy law after fundamentalists in District Layyah pressured police to raid their homes.
Under the terms of this section any person found guilty is subject to either the death penalty or life imprisonment
The children, Muhammad Irfan, Tahir Imran, Tahir Mahmood and Naseeb Ahmad, all between 14 and 16 years old, were taken into custody on 28 January 2009 after a police raid on each of their homes.
They have now been detained for five days in harsh conditions below any standards of decency. The boys have also been restricted from meeting anyone which is in direct violation of the provisions laid forth in Article 37 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which Pakistan is party
The children were accused of writing the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the walls of a toilet at the Jamia Gulzar-e-Medina Mosque. Not only is this an act no Ahmadi Muslim would ever commit but none of the persons arrested have any connection to the Gulzar-e-Medina Mosque and they do not live anywhere near it.
Mr Salim-ud-Din, Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan said:
"These allegations are completely false and baseless. The police have no evidence whatsoever and have merely succumbed to the pressure of those who spread religious hatred in the region."
Meanwhile in their home village the situation is becoming increasingly tense. Religious extremists have begun a social boycott against the boys' families where it is not safe for them to travel home via normal routes and they cannot even purchase food from local shops. Inflammatory posters in opposition to the Ahmadiyya Community are also being displayed throughout the village.
The International Community, Media and Human Rights organisations are all urged to take action to secure the release of all of the accused in this matter.
The arrests have been formally condemned by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan which has criticized the arrests as 'heinous'.
The Asian Human Rights Commission has stated:
"Family members were told (by the District Police Officer) that the police were under pressure from fundamentalists to act against the children. If he did not arrest them, the group had threatened to close down the whole city and attack the houses of Ahmadi sect members... The AHRC urges the government of President Asif Zardari to immediately release the illegally detained prisoners."
Under United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child (CRC), Pakistan is in breach of Article 14, 'Freedom of Religion' and Article 37 which relates to punishments for crimes.
In an era where freedom of religion and belief is accepted as a basic human right throughout the world it is of disbelief that anti-Ahmadiyya legislation is still active and indeed still being so cruelly enforced in Pakistan.
We strongly urge you to use any available resources and influence within your capacity to assist in the release of these five wrongly accused people and to condemn these heinous acts.