Save Shagufta and Shafqat - persecuted Pakistani Christians

A poor Christian couple face the death penalty

 

Save Shagufta and Shafqat - persecuted Pakistani Christians

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Save Shagufta and Shafqat - persecuted Pakistani Christians

Following the release of Asia Bibi, it has transpired that yet another Pakistani Christian woman is occupying the same prison cell as Asia, and also facing the death penalty on fake charges of blasphemy.

Shagufta Kauser and her disabled husband Shafqat Masih are accused of sending blasphemous text messages to a Muslim cleric despite the fact that both of them are illiterate. Not only that, but the text messages were written in English - a language that neither or them speak and nor do they have any knowledge of alphanumeric symbols. 

Both Shagufta and her husband have been in prison since their arrest in 2013 and they are currently awaiting an appeal against the death sentence which was imposed by the Lahore High Court in 2014. Before their arrest Shagufta and Shafqat lived in a church compound in the city of Gojra in the Punjab province in East Pakistan where Mrs Kauser worked as a cleaner and servant at the church’s school in order to make ends meet. Mrs Kauser was the only breadwinner in the family after her husband became paralysed from the waist down in an accident in 2004. 

It appears as though a copy of Mrs Kauser’s identity card was stolen from the human resources file at the church where she worked by a friend of their accuser and then used to purchase a sim card in her name from which the texts were sent. The motive for this is believed to be simmering anger following an argument between the couple's young children and their accuser's children, which took place 8 months prior to the sending of the text messages.

The prosecutors have been unable to produce any concrete evidence which would point to the couple's guilt; a sim card produced in court was found to be bogus and the phone from which the texts were sent has not beeen located. Police are relying on a bill for a sim card provided by a local shop-keeper. 

After his arrest Mr Masih was tortured into making a confession at the local police station in the hope that it would spare his wife who was also being threatened with torture.

The couple are being represented by the same brave lawyer who defended Asia Bibi, Saif-ul Malook. Along with condemning the torture which Mr Masih was subjected to, Mr Malook has also expressed concerns that the judge who pronounced the death sentence was intimidated by hardline lawyers and religious leaders in the community.

Both Shagufta Kauser and her husband are reported to be experiencing severe depression having ben held apart in separate prisons for over 6 years. Furthermore a recent doctor’s report has outlined grave fears for the health of Shafqat whose back is almost destroyed from bed sores as he is confined to a prison bed from which he is unable to move.

The couple have four children aged between 9 and 15 who are in the care of their paternal aunt and who are also now in fear for their lives.

Britain sends  £383,000 in aid every day to Pakistan which is supposed to alleviate the suffering and destitution of beleaguered minorities. Pakistan's blasphemy laws are often used by Muslims to target Christians and other minorities. There is still a febrile atmosphere and much resentment amongst the community as a result of Asia Bibi’s release, which is going to make it hard for the couple to receive a fair trial. 

Please sign this petition asking Jeremy Hunt to intervene and secure the immediate release of Shagufta and Shafqat. 


https://www.persecution.org/2019/06/19/pakistani-couple-tried-five-years-imprisonment/


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A disabled Christian and his wife face the death penalty in Pakistan

Dear Mr Hunt,

 A Christian couple in Pakistan are facing the death penalty on politically motivated charges of blasphemy.

Shagufta Kauser and her husband Shafqat Masih who is paralysed from the waist down have been on death row for over 5 years now, accused of sending blasphemous text messages even though both of the couple are illiterate and the messages were sent in English - a language which they have no knowledge of. Prosecutors have been unable to produce any evidence linking the couple to the phone from which the alleged texts were sent.

Mr Masih has received inhumane treatment.He was tortured into making a false confession and now his health is at serious risk as his disability means that he is confined to a prison bed and his back is covered in bedsores. Both Mr Masih and his wife are also suffering from mental health difficulties; they have been separated from each other for 6 years and their children are also at risk,  needing to be cared for by a relative.

The UK sends around £383,000 in aid to Pakistan every single day, which is supposed to help beleaguered minorities including Christians such as Shagufta and Shafqat. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are all too often used to persecute Christians and other minorities.

There are currently high levels of resentment towards the Christian minority in Pakistan as a result of Asia Bibi,  which is going to make it even harder for Mrs Kauser and her husband to have a fair trial. It is unconscionable for a disabled man with mental health issues who poses no risk to the community to be imprisoned in a facility which is unable to meet his needs, especially when he appears to be wholly innocent of the charges laid against him.

I am therefore asking you in your current capacity as Foreign Secretary  or as future prime minister,  to do all you can to intervene in this case and secure the immediate release of this couple and ensure their future safety.

Yours sincerely,

Atenciosamente,
[Seu nome]

Save Shagufta and Shafqat - persecuted Pakistani Christians

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050.000
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23.889 pessoas já assinaram esta petição. Ajude-nos a conseguir 50.000 assinaturas.