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INDIA – Trial for seven innocent Christians: appeal for their release

It is urgent to speed up the judicial process which sees seven innocent Christians of Kandhamal, a district in the Indian state of Orissa, in prison. The seven have been languishing in jail because of the false accusation of the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati , the Hindu leader killed by the Maoists in 2008. This is what the Delhi Minorities Committee (DMC) asks for, which has produced and published a documentary film in Hindi entitled “Kaid mein Bekasoor” (Innocents imprisoned). As reported to Agenzia Fides, the documentary was produced by journalist Anto Akkara who has been spearheading a campaign for the release of the seven innocents.

“It is shocking to know about the plight of these innocents languishing in jail for the last 10 years. It should concern the whole nation”, said Zafarul-Islam Khan, President of the Committee for Minorities. “Our mandate is to speak up for the voiceless and minorities. That is why the Commission decided to host this programme to spread awareness about the shocking injustice to the Christian minorities”, he stressed.
“It is a shame for Indian democracy and judicial system that the seven innocents – six of them illiterates – are in jail to perpetuate a political fraud”, urged Akkara, who made 27 trips to remote Kandhamal jungles villages and authored the nationally acclaimed book “Who Killed Swami Laxmanananda?” that has now been translated into Hindi and Malayalam.

Akkara has been anchoring an online signature campaign for the release of the innocents on www.release7innocents.com. Each signature on this website generates four instant emails to the Chief Justice of India, President of India, NHRC chairman and the Odisha High Court .
“It is time for everyone to come together to fight for law and justice and adequate compensation for the victims of the 2008 anti-Christian violence” said Father Kulokant Dandasena, a Catholic priest who works for the survivors in Kandhamal. “Seven innocent people in prison is a shame for a secular and democratic country like India”, he added.

“We are taking up this case to awaken the minorities and others to massive injustice to innocent people”, said Advocate Sister Anastasia Gill, a lawyer and member of the DMC. “This is the moment for all the minorities to join hands together and challenge the forces that are trying to divide people in the name of religion”, she concluded.

‘Innocents Imprisoned’ – Kandhamal’s Travesty of Justice

Innocents Imprisoned is a documentary on the Hindu nationalist fraud & travesty of justice in Kandhamal jungles (of Odisha state in India) with seven innocent Christians including a mentally challenged illiterate languishing in jail for nearly 10 years due to the subversion of the judicial system. This documentary – visual presentation of the investigative book, ‘Who killed Swami Laxmanananda?’ launched on August 23, 2018 in New Delhi on the 10th anniversary of Kandhamal.

Speak up for these voiceless by signing the online petition for their release at link above.

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Nigerian news reports Boko Haram executes second aide worker

(Voice of the Persecuted) Nigerian news sources are reporting shocking news that Boko Haram terrorists have executed the second International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) aide worker, Hauwa Leman.  ICRC had begged the Nigerian government to intervene, it is sad their cries have gone unheard.

In a report first published by TheCable, the terrorist group vowed to keep Leah Sharibu, the Dapchi Christian schoolgirl, as “a slave for life”.

The Nigerian government said it was shocked and saddened by the killing of another aid worker by the insurgent group.

In a statement issued in London on Monday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, described her execution as “dastardly, inhuman and ungodly”, saying nothing can justify the shedding of the blood of innocent people.

“We are deeply pained by this killing, just like we were by the recent killing of the first aid worker.”

“However, we will keep the negotiations open and continue to work to free the innocent women who remain in the custody of their abductors, he said.”

Atiku Abubakar, Former Vice President (1999-2007), I’m deeply saddened by the murder of Hauwa Leman, an ICRC aid worker, by terrorists. I implore the Federal Government to deploy every reasonable tool at its disposal to bring Leah Shuaibu and all the children in Boko Haram captivity home. (photo)

About 3 hours ago, VOP began receiving the chatter of this heartbreaking report. Please keep praying!

 

Boko Haram threatens to kill Christian teenager

(Voice of the Persecuted) Urgent prayers needed for Nigerian Christian teenager threatened to be executed today by Boko Haram. 15 year old Leah Sharibu was among over 100 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from a school in Dapchi, Northern Nigeria on Feb. 19, 2018. It was a kidnapping that mirrored what happened in Chibok four years earlier when 276 girls were abducted from the school in Chibok, Borno State. A month after the Dapchi abduction on March 22 the militants released 104 of the schoolgirls, with the exception of Leah. The teenager was the only Christian in the group. Boko Haram members told Leah to renounce her Christian faith and become a Muslim or they would not let her go. The Muslim schoolgirls begged her to do it and go home with them, but she refused to deny her faith in Jesus and is still a captive of the Boko Haram. The Nigerian government has been bombarded with pleas, including those from the international community, to step up and secure Leah’s immediate release.

A month ago, Boko Haram militants killed one of three Red Cross workers being held as their captives. The militants gave a one month deadline to kill Leah and the two others unless the Nigerian government met the radical group’s demands for their release. Today marks that deadline!

We ask that you pray with us for young Leah and the Red Cross workers.

…for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Rom. 14:8-9

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Cor. 5:8, we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

Our brothers and sisters in the New Testament did not fear martyrdom. In fact, they considered the martyrs crown to be an honor and read in Revelation 20 that the martyrs will reign with Jesus in heaven.

Not to promote a cult of martyrdom, but to encourage that we need not fear what the enemy will do. Rejoice that Christ has conquered death and is victor over all. The persecuted church in Nigeria and around the world is not a “victimized” church but part of the global, persecuted church who is a “victorious” church because the bride of Christ follows a “victorious” Savior.  The Son, who has conquered death, sits at the right hand of God the Father.

Only God knows what will happen to Leah Sharibu, this day, or in the days to follow.  Pray for her release and let us also pray and rejoice that His good, acceptable and perfect will will be done to bring Him glory.  For Leah Sharibu, our dear sister, belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. Not jihadists or even the devil can snatch her out of the hand of Jesus.

Let us pray for God’s will to be done in this situation that will bring him glory.
Let us pray that Leah will be comforted, encouraged, and strengthened in her heart by the overwhelming presence of God.
Let us pray that Leah will know the overwhelming love of God in her situation.
Let us pray that Leah’s parents and relatives be comforted.
Let us pray the Nigerian church will take heart from Leah’s testimony.
Let us pray that the Nigerian church will rise up and be the church that God wants it to be. That the Nigerian believers will be the light of Christ in the darkness of that nation.
Let us pray the Boko Haram and Fulani will see the light of Christ and embrace Jesus.
Prayer is our greatest weapon. James reminds us that the prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect (James 5:16).
Leah said early on in her captivity that she would not deny Christ. Brothers and sisters let us not deny her by refusing to pray for her. Let us keep her, the Nigerian church and the global persecuted church in our prayers.
Let us keep on praying for those who were in the shadow of the cross.

 

Pakistan: Islamic groups threaten Supreme Court judges ahead of Asia Bibi ruling

(World Watch Monitor) Radical religious groups in Pakistan have called for mass protests and threatened the judges of the country’s Supreme Court in Islamabad ahead of their ruling in the blasphemy case of Christian woman Asia Bibi.

The hardline Islamic party, the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), threatened the judges in a press conference on YouTube, saying that if Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, were to receive clemency, the justices would meet a “horrible” end, reported AFP.

Meanwhile another religious group, the Red Mosque in Islamabad, asked the Supreme Court to order that, if Asia Bibi is released, she would not be able to leave the country.

“Western forces are trying to get Asia Bibi out of the country but she should be hanged,” the petitioner, Hafiz Ihtesham Ahmed, told AFP.

The TLP also announced it would hold a rally on Friday, 12 October, and on social media radical voices call for Asia Bibi to be hanged.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court heard the much-delayed appeal of Asia Bibi, on Monday, 8 October. It did not announce its decision, saying it would ‘reserve judgment’ for several days or possibly weeks.

The story of Asia Bibi

Noreen received the death penalty in 2010 after she allegedly made derogatory comments about Islam’s prophet Muhammad during an argument with a Muslim woman.

In June 2009, Noreen, then about 38, was picking berries in the fields as a day labourer in Sheikhupura, outside Lahore in eastern Pakistan. It was hot. She brought water to a female co-worker, who objected that the touch of a Christian had made the water haram, or religiously forbidden for Muslims. The woman apparently told Noreen to convert to Islam in order to become purified of her ritual impurity. Noreen’s rejoinder was perceived as an insult to Islam. She was arrested, accused of blasphemy against the Prophet and the Qur’an, and has been in prison ever since.

The Muslim woman, with her sister, were the only two eyewitnesses in the case, but the defence failed to convince the appeals judges that their evidence lacked credibility.

In the Lahore High Court appeal hearing in October 2014, Bibi’s then-lawyer, Naeem Shakir, argued that the main complainant in the case, the local Muslim cleric Mohamed Salaam, had not heard Bibi blaspheme, and that his original complaint had been lodged only five days after the women’s quarrel. Shakir argued that, during her 2010 trial, the only reason given for this delay was “deliberation and consultation”, and said that Salaam had acknowledged this in court.

Salaam was filmed by an international film crew for a film about Bibi in 2014, saying that it is his religious obligation to defend the dignity of Muhammad and that is why he decided to be a witness before the court. He only heard Bibi allegedly confess to blasphemy when she had been brought before a village council several days after the quarrel.

Her other main accuser, Mohamed Imran, owner of the field in which Noreen worked, was not present at the time of the quarrel either; he was away from the village.

However, the High Court ruled that it had no choice but to let the conviction and death penalty stand, based on the way the country’s laws are written, and on what it characterised as an inept trial defence.

At the same time, the court asked Pakistan’s lawmakers to craft legislation that would empower trial courts to apply a test that would make future blasphemy convictions much more difficult to achieve.

Noreen’s lawyer then filed an appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court and in July 2015 it agreed it would hear Noreen’s case.

Commentators praised the Court for its courage to hear the appeal in the face of strong public sentiment against anyone seen to denigrate Islam, with some calling it a “historic day for Pakistan”.

However, the appeal stalled in late 2016 when one member of the three-judge panel recused himself.

In April 2018 Pakistan’s chief justice, Saqib Nisar, told Noreen’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, that he would hear Asia’s appeal soon.

Since then Malook, who was the prosecution lawyer in the case of the murder of Punjab Governor Taseer, has been under 24-hours protection. Ahead of the hearing in Islamabad on 8 October he told AP News, “I have lost my health. I am a high blood pressure patient, my privacy is totally lost. You have to be in hiding,” as everyone knew his identity. “They look at this house and they know this is the home of a person who can be killed at any time by angry mullahs,” he said.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court is the last possibility for Noreen to see her death sentence repealed or she has to appeal to the President for mercy.

International attention

Bibi’s case has attracted global attention, much of it critical of Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws, which critics contend are routinely abused as a pretext to settle personal scores.

In 2011 two prominent Pakistani politicians, Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated after they spoke publicly in Bibi’s defence.

Following the killing of Taseer, Governor of Punjab, Bibi’s husband said she was “very afraid”. “She knows the Muslims have announced a price on her head and would go to any lengths to kill her,” he said. Authorities increased her security and moved her to an all-women facility, Multan Prison.

In May 2018 another politician who has championed the country’s minority communities, Ahsan Iqbal, survived an assassination attempt by a gunman protesting against the country’s blasphemy laws.

Pope Benedict XVI made a public plea for clemency and the EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, told Pakistani officials that the renewal of their export privileges to Europe would depend on the release of Asia Bibi.

  • June 2009  Aasiya Noreen, commonly known as Asia Bibi, mother of five, is arrested on charges of blasphemy
  • November 2010  Noreen convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Her lawyer appeals verdict.
  • January 2011 Salmaan Taseer, governor of Punjab Province who supported Noreen and called for reform of the country’s blasphemy laws, is assassinated by one of his bodyguards. As a result authorities increase security for Noreen and she is moved to the all-women Multan Prison.
  • March 2011 Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs who supported Noreen’s case and was outspoken critic of country’s widely condemned blasphemy laws, is assassinated.
  • October 2011 News emerges that Asia has been beaten by prison officer.
  • March 2014 Lahore High Court starts appeal hearing but case keeps circulating among several judges who postpone its hearing, allegedly for fear of reprisal from extremist elements.
  • October 2014 The Lahore High Court confirms Noreen’s death sentence
  • November 2014 Noreen’s lawyer files appeal with Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
  • February 2015 Noreen’s husband speaks out about how family’s lives are under constant threat following her conviction and sentencing five years ago.
  • July 2015 Supreme Court decides to hear Noreen’s appeal.
  • October 2015 Noreen is moved to solitary prison cell because of fears for her security after Supreme Court upholds sentence against former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s murderer.
  • October 2016 About 150 top Muslim clerics from radical Islamist group Sunni Tehreek call for Noreen to be hanged.
  • April 2017 Mufti Muhammad Haneef Qureshi renews call for Noreen’s execution.
  • October 2017 Noreen nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
  • November 2017 Three European Parliament members visit Noreen’s family in Pakistan.
  • December 2017 The EU’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Jan Figeľ, tells Pakistani officials that renewal of export privileges to Europe depends on Noreen’s release.
  • February 2018 Noreen’s husband and daughter meet Pope Francis in the Vatican.
  • April 2018 Chief Justice Saqib Nisar announces he will hear Noreen’s appeal soon.
  • May 2018 Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s interior minister and supporter of the country’s minority communities, survives assassination attempt after meeting prevent her from Christians in his constituency.
  • October 8, 2018 Supreme Court hears Noreen’s case but delays ruling.
  • October 10, 2018 Radical religious groups threaten judges over possibility of releasing Noreen, and ask High Court to leaving the country.

 

Turkish Court Rules To Free Andrew Brunson

Andrew Brunson released by Turkish Court

(Voice of the Persecuted) A Turkish court has ordered the release of US Pastor Andrew Brunson. After two long years of detention on false charges, Andrew will be coming home and able to dance at his daughter’s wedding. Brunson and his wife, originally from North Carolina, moved to Turkey 23 years ago. Andrew led the Izmir Resurrection Church with a congregation of about 25. The couple had raised their family of three children in Turkey and had applied for permanent residency.

Case background: On Oct. 7, the couple was called to a local police station never imagining there was anything to be worried about. They went to the police station thinking they were finally approved for residency. At the station, they were initially told to leave the country because Andrew was accused of receiving funds from abroad to fund missionary initiatives that Turkey claimed would endanger the security of the country with their activities. Later, the Turkish press reported that the decree of expulsion for the Evangelical pastor had been transformed into arrest after a secret witness accused him of having ties with a terror organization. Later, more secret witnesses accused him of espionage. Many believed he was a political pawn used to force the US to extradite Fethullah Gülen who is considered an enemy of the Turkish government and living in self-exile in Pennsylvania for years.

Andrew spent much of his time in a cell with limited contact and his health deteriorated. Andrew lost 50 lbs., told he was forgotten and suffered from depression. The only thing that sustained him was his faith in God and love for his family.

Trial hearings: During the last 3 trials, Andrew shared his love for Christ and the Turkish people. He firmly denied all accusations against him and said, “My service that I have spent my life on, has now turned upside down. I was never ashamed to be a server of Jesus, but these claims are shameful and disgusting.” After the last hearing in July, he was taken back to prison, but due to health concerns he was released under house arrest and put under a travel ban. At today’s hearing, the Turkish prosecutor asked that Brunson be given a 10 year prison sentence,

During the today’s hearing it was reported that three witnesses withdrew their statements against Brunson after reports that the U.S. and Turkey were negotiating a secret deal for his release. Another report shared of the four witnesses who had earlier testified against Brunson, one claimed reading the allegations in the news, another said he was misunderstood by the judge, and the last two claimed that they first heard the allegations from one another. While the trial was ongoing, Former Turkish member of parliament Aykan Erdemir said that witnesses who have appeared at the hearing are now changing their testimony. This would clear the way for the judge to dismiss the case. Turkey has been suffering by the U.S. economic sanctions placed on the country when Brunson wasn’t released at the last hearing. Turkish agencies began reporting his release would be a partial unblocking of the terrible U.S.-Turkish relationship.

Today, Andrew told the court, “I am and innocent man. I love Jesus. I love Turkey.” Witnesses at the hearing shared that Pastor Brunson wept when the court ruling was announced. We expect many happy tears are flowing with his in the Body of Christ, globally.

Homecoming: The U.S. military is expected to fly Andrew back to the United States., U.S. officials told Reuters that Brunson could return to the United States as soon as Friday. A Pentagon spokeswoman told Reuters that the expected plan involved flying Brunson through Germany on the way back to America but did not specify the timing.

Our Victory in Christ

Giving God all the glory, Christians around the world are rejoicing and singing praise to the Lord for this victory. Andrew’s release is an answer to many fervent prayers. We are thankful to all those who allowed the Lord to guide them for his release. Voice of the Persecuted and Persecution Watch would like to thank those who prayed on yesterday’s prayer conference call event for Andrew. What beautiful prayer call full of joy and anticipation for what the Lord is doing. It felt more like a family reunion, in love and agreement, with some we’ve never met. The top key words throughout the day were, forward and dance. Lois Kanalos of Voice of the Persecuted said, “I kept seeing Andrew dancing in the courtroom like David for the Lord! I imagine he did, if only in his heart. Now he and the church in Turkey can move FORWARD…onward soldiers!”

We will continue to pray for Andrew’s transition and healing from his ordeal. Let us also pray for the church in Turkey to be bold and a shining light in the darkness.

Now in this present age or later in glory…victory!
(Romans 8: 26-39) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written,

“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Tonight! Open prayer conference call for Andrew Brunson

Please join us! Click on link for Call details. Ministries host open prayer conference call for Andrew Brunson

Thai Immigration Police arrest Pakistani Christian asylum seekers, refugees and children

Pakistani Christian asylum seekers, refugees and children arrested Oct. 9, 2018

Voice of the Persecuted — Children of persecuted Pakistani Christians in Thailand woke up to the wailing sounds of their parents as Immigration police broke through their doors around 7 a.m. this morning. Immigration police raided Suppamas Mansion (apartment building) in Charan Sanitwong 8 and about 30 families were rounded up from their rooms and taken to the Immigration Detention Center (IDC) at Suan Phlu road in Bangkok. Approximately 80 people including 30 children and 50 adults have been reportedly arrested in that raid.

Pakistani Christian refugees and asylum seekers arrested with their children at apartment building located at Charan Sanitwong soi 8 in Bangkok Thailand CLICK to view larger image

Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) began receiving urgent reports from our Thailand Representative, Christian Malik, while the raids were taking place. We were able to send out an alert to inform Pakistani Christian asylum seekers and refugees to stay indoors and out of sight. We also asked others to begin praying for them.

Among those arrested is Robin Victor, a father of three young children, who is a dialysis patient and is treated every 48 hours on a dialysis machine. We are gravely concerned that if he is not released his health may quickly deteriorate. Over the course of three years, approximately three people have died in the IDC due to medical illnesses. If appropriate action isn’t taken in time, Mr. Victor’s life could be in danger.

Immigration police continued its advance, far and beyond within Bangkok, and conducted two further raids in the evening hours. A building was raided in the Minburi District and about 9 people were arrested. One of those arrested is Tariq Gill, along with his two sisters, who received aid through VOP’s relief program for a few months in 2015 until an Australian church began covering their expenses.

Another apartment building was raided at Phet Kasem 77 in Bang Wa District and several people were detained. The exact figure for this raid is unidentifiable as Immigration authorities quickly took away their mobile phones.

Among other advancements, Immigration police cancelled the visas of Mr. X and Mr. Y. [ names withheld ] Mr. X is over 50 years old and had a retirement visa which he renewed 2 weeks ago, whereas Mr. Y had a non-B visa which he had recently obtained. The visas were rejected on the grounds that Mr. Y could speak Thai despite being in the country for a short period of time, while Mr. X, who had stayed legally in the country for the past 5 years, couldn’t explain how he fulfilled the requirements for his retirement visa. Voice of the Persecuted would like to acknowledge Mr. X for being one of those who has helped our relief mission, Project 133, to deliver aid such as food, toiletries, baby formula and diapers to those suffering inside the IDC. He has done so graciously without the expectation of anything in return. May the Lord bless and have mercy on this faithful servant.

Approximately 100 people have been arrested in raids across Bangkok today and more successive raids could follow. Many of those arrested are recognized refugees protected under International law.

The raids are a result of Thailand’s Immigration policy to eliminate illegal immigrants within the country. Unfortunately refugees and asylum seekers are also considered illegal as Thailand has not ratified the UNHCR Refugee treaty. Their asylum cases filed with the UNHCR, nor their UNHCR asylum cards are not considered by the government.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday instructed Pol Maj-General Surachate Hakparn, Thailand’s acting Immigration Bureau chief to crack down on foreigners overstaying their visas…….”

This recent news report, read here, shows that the Thai Immigration authorities have increased their crackdown and will continue to raid and arrest illegals for the coming month. Unfortunately, our brothers in Christ will be affected and suffer even more.

Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and that God may be with them through this difficult time.

Some are asking why the Thailand authorities would do something like this. Thailand, a popular tourist hot spot, had been one of the major destinations for Christians fleeing persecution in Pakistan. But many came without the full knowledge of the dangers that lie ahead. Thailand, not being a signatory of the UN 1951 Refugee Convention, regularly arrests asylum seekers and refugees. They are not distinguished from other immigrants, legal or illegal, even having UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) documents. In Thailand, all immigrants without valid documents are seized by the authorities and detained in the Immigration Detention Center (IDC). Often times, those arrested are first taken to the Central Jail and incarcerated along side those convicted of murder, rape and other serious crimes. We are expecting bail will be needed to keep many out of the Central Jail, approx. $100-$200 U.S. depending on the Judge. We are hoping for the ability to keep some from going to this dangerous place. However, this does not prevent them from being detained in the IDC.

At this time, bail is being denied for those in the IDC. They are forced to stay in it’s horrid conditions until they choose to self-deport. Hundreds are in the notorious Immigration Detention Center and some living in the deplorable situation for several years. The Immigration Detention Center is designed to hold about 50 detainees at a time. We approximate that before the latest raids there were 180 Pakistani’s, not including other nationalities, being held in the IDC. These large numbers lead to lack of space, sanitation and serious health concerns. They are at risk of contracting highly infectious diseases such as, tuberculosis, skin infections, among other air/water borne illnesses. They’re malnourished due to a diet of nothing more than mix of soupy rice and cucumber. Babies and children are not offered milk and they solely relying on outside help to sustain them.

this child was helped through your generosity

Please pray for them to remain steadfast in holding onto their faith. VOP is on the ground in Thailand. Join hands with us to spread the love of Jesus.  Please consider helping our mission to cover these expenses and donate, today. Nutritional items, baby milk and diapers will be high on the list of needs. We may not be able to cover all expenses, but let us cover as many as we can! Your donations, whether large or small, aid in our ability to carry out this mission and are gratefully appreciated by our persecuted family. Go with us to Thailand through your blessings to share with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. Keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the needed funds for the relief mission.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!

High Court hears Asia Bibi’s final death sentence appeal, but holds back verdict

 

Asia Bibi was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and her case is one of the most controversial

(VOP) There is much speculation about the outcome of Asia Bibi’s final appeal heard today by a special three-member bench of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel. They will decide whether or not to confirm the death sentence of Asia Bibi. The chief justice warned the media and those present against commenting on or discussing the case until the court’s detailed judgement has been issued. No date is given when the Supreme Court will announce it’s decision.

Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of 5, was accused of blasphemy in 2009. In 2010, she was sentenced to death by hanging and spends her time in solitary confinement cooking her own meals to prevent an assassination attempt. Asia firmly denies the blasphemy allegations against her. If you are unfamiliar with the charges and details of her case, please read: What you need to know about Asia Bibi’s trial

Covering today’s appeal, Fides News agency shared that Christians in Pakistan await with bated breath, immersed in prayer and the conclusion of this final hearing. In the report Fr. James Channan who runs the ‘Peace Center’ in Lahore shared,

“It is good to know that, after such a long time, Asia Bibi’s case is brought to trial. Many people are praying for her release in Pakistan and around the world. It is our firm hope that, thanks to continuous prayer, she can be released. I am sure that the panel of judges will examine the case without prejudice and that justice will be done, without being influenced by external pressures. I pray that Asia may be released soon and may reunite with her family members who have lived many years of pain and anguish. If she is released, it will also give great relief to all those who, in the world, have felt deeply involved in this case, praying for her, so that this innocent woman may finally have justice. Moreover, if she is proved innocent, it will be necessary to punish those who falsely accused her, abusing the controversial blasphemy law”. He concluded, “Today we also remember those who were killed because of the support given to Asia Bibi: former governor of the Punjab province, the Muslim Salman Taseer and the Catholic leader Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minority Affairs. We hope their sacrifice was not in vain”.

Some are expecting the verdict to be announced within a couple of days, others believe that the risk of national riots and violence may delay the court’s verdict for sometime. Speaking to Voice of the Persecuted, a Pakistani Christian shared,

“The government doesn’t want her to be there anyways but the pressure from hardliners is keeping them from releasing her. There could be a national revolt if she is released so nobody has been willing to take the risk. If she is executed then Pakistan will face huge international humiliation. It needs to go through the due process and it will be a very tough decision.”

Asia is expected to ask the nation’s president for clemency if her appeal is rejected by the Supreme Court. Dawn News reports, “If that fails, she could become the first person in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy”.

Asia’s husband and youngest daughter are in the U.K. as guests of the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need. Her husband told the Catholic News Service that they visited Bibi in Multan Prison on Oct. 1. He declared she was in good health, psychologically, physically and spiritually strong, contrary to reports that she was developing dementia. He relayed that Asia had a message that the international community must remember her in their prayers and that those prayers would open the prison doors for her soon release. He also said that while Asia is praying, she feels Jesus encouraging and supporting her, that she was ready and willing to die for Christ and would never convert to Islam.

She has suffered so long. Please keep our dear sister, Asia, in your prayers. May God have mercy on her. Pray also for Pakistani Christians and the nation of Pakistan.

The movie below was filmed in 2014 in Pakistan, France and Italy. It features Asia Bibi’s family, her lawyers, journalists and friends, all actively engaged in campaigning for her release. It also includes an interview with Anne Isabelle Tollet, the journalist and author of the book Blasphemy, helping to bring public attention to Asia’s case.

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