Christian Human Rights Group in Pakistan ‘Welcomes’ the Release of Rimsha Masih
Posted: 16/09/2012 at 8:27am
It also calls for fully prosecution of Imam who allegedly planted false evidence on the girl
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- A Christian human rights group in Pakistan has issued a statement to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), welcoming the release on bail of Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl charged under 295B of the country’s controversial blasphemy law.
Naveed Walter, President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP) said, “The release of Rimsha Masih is a success for the religious minorities in Pakistan and all human rights organizations working to restore their rights.”
Rimsha Masih, out on bail
Walter then paid tribute to the “court of law for upholding the norms of justice” and said that he also “appreciated the stand by Additional Session Judge, Mohammad Azam Khan, in taking the decision to grant bail to Rimsha.”
He pledged to do all he could to assist her with her bail and settlement of the case in which the mentally-challenged girl who was arrested last month on charges of blasphemy for allegedly burning pages with text from the Koran. The incident prompted worldwide protests and outcry.
Eventually, witnesses came forward reporting that a Muslim cleric had torn pages from a Koran and planted them in Masih’s bag which contained burned papers. The cleric was arrested this week for attempting to frame the young girl who is said to be illiterate.
Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, the imam from the Mehrabadi slum neighborhood on the edge of Islamabad, who has now been accused of tampering with evidence in order to ensure the girl's conviction.
Now she is free on bail and in hiding with her family for her own safety, Naveed Walter applauded “the role of Civil Society, Islamic Scholars and Religious Leaders in highlighting the issue and speaking in the favor of Rimsha Masih.”
“Along with this, HRFP also acknowledges unprecedented and courageous role of Sub-Inspector Mr. Munir Jaffri (Investigation Police Officer) in conducting fair investigation of this high profile case and exposing the denouncing role of the Imam for allegedly altering the evidence against Rimsha.”
Naveed Walter speaking
When Rimsha was first arrested, many of estimated 50 local Christian families had fled the area fearing for their lives, and Naveed Walter said that, when he and his team visit the area, they found that only two Christian families had remained.
“The two families that we met with said they were mystified and hassled due to the domination of Muslim community,” said Mr. Walter. “We observed that they were pressurized to remain silent in this particular case.”
He said that after making a thorough investigation of the case, and meeting with police, lawyers, and other human rights groups, his group had come up with the following conclusions:
1. The alleged charge of blasphemy on Rimsha Masih is forged and fictitious.
2. The complainant and local prayer leader falsely charged Rimsha for burning of 10 to 12 pages of Quranic Verses due to religious discrimination and intolerance.
3. The complainant, Malik Mohammad Ummad, is not a direct witness of the Rimsha Masih case.
4. Actually only one Page of Arabic Verses was found from the bag of Rimsha.
5. More than 50 Christian families fled from the area in safety of their lives.
6. The story narrated in the FIR (First Information Report) is groundless and baseless.
7. The medical report shows that Rimsha is aged 14 years and a Down syndrome patient.
Mr. Walter then said, that in order to “enforce justice for the girl” and also to “ensure the protection of minorities,” the following are the Recommendations of Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP):
1. All discriminatory practices against religious minorities should be controlled and especially the provision of 295B/C of blasphemy laws should be repealed on urgent basis.
2. All cases of blasphemy laws whose victims are in prisons should be revisited and investigated fairly and they should be released immediately.
3. The Imam who fictitiously accused Rimsha Masih should also be dealt under the same allegation.
4. Rimsha Masih should be provided with trauma counseling under expert psychologists.
5. The Government should take initiatives to promote religious harmony between different religions and should take the practical steps to stop such victimizations against religious minorities.
For more information, please contact: Naveed Walter, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or go to their website: www.hrfngo.org