Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Offers Asylum To Woman On Pakistani Death Row

By Amardeep Bassey

Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent eight years on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy, is moving to Canada after accepting an offer of asylum by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, HuffPost UK can reveal.

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The news comes as Pakistan’s top court today rejected a challenge to the acquittal of the mother-of-five on blasphemy charges, after she was accused of insulting the Prophet Mohammed.

The Supreme Court upheld its decision to overturn Asia Bibi’s conviction and death sentence sparking fears of civil unrest which plagued her release last year.

Bibi is expected to land in Canada this week to join two of her daughters, who were secretly flown out earlier this month.

Wilson Chowdry, of the British Pakistani Association, told HuffPost UK: “I can confirm that Asia Bibi will be flown out to Canada very, very soon and be joined in Canada by the rest of her family in due time.

“Canadian diplomats have confirmed they are making the necessary arrangements as we speak and she is looking forward to her new life in a new country.”

Chowdry, a close friend of the Bibi family who travelled the world trying to secure her asylum, said Bibi was moving to a secret and “relatively remote” part of Canada.

He said: “Justin Trudeau himself has been personally involved in making sure Canada accepts Asia and her family.

“Security concerns are still paramount. Even in Canada, Asia’s life is in potential danger.”

Bibi, a farm labourer, was released from prison two months ago after Pakistan’s highest court acquitted her in a landmark decision.

Last month a delegation from the British Pakistani Christian Association visited Canada and garnered support from MPs there, who said they would welcome Asia and her family to the country.

The Trudeau government has the support of Canada’s opposition Conservative Party, who have urged him to “use every mechanism at his disposal to offer the Bibi family asylum”.

In November Trudeau told reporters while in Paris: “There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he added.

Bibi spent years in solitary confinement after an argument with a group of Muslim women in June 2009, who accused her of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. But in October Pakistan’s supreme court overturned her conviction, saying the case against her was based on flimsy evidence.

Her acquittal sparked violent protests across the country, led by Islamic religious hardliners from the extremist group Tehreek-e-Labaik, whose leaders were later arrested and detained on terrorism and sedition charges.

Days after her release, Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih made an impassioned video plea to Theresa May asking for asylum in the UK.

But her appeal for sanctuary was controversially denied by the UK’s home office because of fears that British embassies and their staff would be targeted by Islamic extremists as a result, HuffPost UK revealed at the time.

Several countries had reportedly offered Bibi asylum, including France, Spain, Holland, Germany, Italy and Australia.

Wilson revealed Bibi and her family had spent Christmas together in a “safe and secret location” adding that a core of “international diplomats” were guarding her.

A spokesman for Global Affairs in Canada said: “Canada welcomes the acquittal of Asia Bibi and looks forward to seeing a positive resolution to the case. We are focused on ensuring the safety of Asia Bibi and her family.

“We cannot comment further at this time.”

asia

The Supreme Court upheld its decision to overturn Asia Bibi’s conviction and death sentence sparking fears of civil unrest which plagued her release last year.

Bibi is expected to land in Canada this week to join two of her daughters, who were secretly flown out earlier this month.

Wilson Chowdry, of the British Pakistani Association, told HuffPost UK: “I can confirm that Asia Bibi will be flown out to Canada very, very soon and be joined in Canada by the rest of her family in due time.

“Canadian diplomats have confirmed they are making the necessary arrangements as we speak and she is looking forward to her new life in a new country.”

Chowdry, a close friend of the Bibi family who travelled the world trying to secure her asylum, said Bibi was moving to a secret and “relatively remote” part of Canada.

He said: “Justin Trudeau himself has been personally involved in making sure Canada accepts Asia and her family.

“Security concerns are still paramount. Even in Canada, Asia’s life is in potential danger.”

Bibi, a farm labourer, was released from prison two months ago after Pakistan’s highest court acquitted her in a landmark decision.

Last month a delegation from the British Pakistani Christian Association visited Canada and garnered support from MPs there, who said they would welcome Asia and her family to the country.

The Trudeau government has the support of Canada’s opposition Conservative Party, who have urged him to “use every mechanism at his disposal to offer the Bibi family asylum”.

In November Trudeau told reporters while in Paris: “There is a delicate domestic context that we respect which is why I don’t want to say any more about that, but I will remind people Canada is a welcoming country,” he added.

Bibi spent years in solitary confinement after an argument with a group of Muslim women in June 2009, who accused her of insulting the Prophet Muhammad. But in October Pakistan’s supreme court overturned her conviction, saying the case against her was based on flimsy evidence.

Her acquittal sparked violent protests across the country, led by Islamic religious hardliners from the extremist group Tehreek-e-Labaik, whose leaders were later arrested and detained on terrorism and sedition charges.

Days after her release, Bibi’s husband Ashiq Masih made an impassioned video plea to Theresa May asking for asylum in the UK.

But her appeal for sanctuary was controversially denied by the UK’s home office because of fears that British embassies and their staff would be targeted by Islamic extremists as a result, HuffPost UK revealed at the time.

Several countries had reportedly offered Bibi asylum, including France, Spain, Holland, Germany, Italy and Australia.

Wilson revealed Bibi and her family had spent Christmas together in a “safe and secret location” adding that a core of “international diplomats” were guarding her.

A spokesman for Global Affairs in Canada said: “Canada welcomes the acquittal of Asia Bibi and looks forward to seeing a positive resolution to the case. We are focused on ensuring the safety of Asia Bibi and her family.

“We cannot comment further at this time.”

Source: huffingtonpost.com

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