Innocent Children Facing Death Penalty in Pakistan

Five Ahmadi Muslims have been arrested under the section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, according to the code anyone found guilty can face either the Death Penalty or Life Imprisonment.

All five members of the community were forcefully taken in to custody after a police raids in each of their homes on 28 January 2009 in District Layyah.  After four hours in custody each of the accused was charged under the terms of section 295-C on the completely false grounds that they had written the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the walls of a toilet at the Jamia Gulzar-e-Medina Mosque.    

Four of the prisoners were children aged between 14 and 16 years old and the fifth aged 50. According to reports 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 Jamaat 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."  

This is not the first time the Pakistani Justice System has been abused by the authorities, nor is it the first time that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community been abused by it. NGO's including the Asian Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have strongly spoken out against this incident.

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."  

The children in question have been cut off from all outside visitors, which is in direct infringement to the provisions laid forth in Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Pakistan is party.   

Unfortunately the situation in the local village is becoming increasingly tense due to the acts of religious extremist in the area. A social boycott against the Ahmadis has started whereby it is not safe for them to travel home via normal routes and they are unable to purchase even food from the local shops. Inflammatory posters in opposition to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat are being displayed throughout the village.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community urges the immediate release of the five persons imprisoned and for all charges to be dropped. It seems that the image of peace and tolerance that Pakistan in trying to uphold in the Western World, is strongly contrasted by the concept of children being charged with an offence that sanctions the death penalty as a sentence.

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. 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.  

To read the history of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community please click on the following link: http://www.alislam.org