AFGHANISTAN: A letter from prison

Shoib AssadullahShoib Assadullah, a Christian who was formerly a Muslim, is facing the death penalty and is being ill-treated in prison, according to a letter dated 17 February 2011, which has been smuggled out.

Shoib writes: “My name is Shoib Said Assadullah. I am 23 years old. For the last four months I have been imprisoned in Qasre Shahi prison, Mazar-e Sharif for the crime of apostasy, which means I’ve changed my beliefs.

“Not only has my freedom been taken from me, but I am undergoing severe psychological pressure. Several times I have been attacked physically and threatened to death by fellow prisoners, especially Taliban and anti government prisoners who are in jail.

“Assaults on my human dignity have affected me negatively, close to the point of death. On the other hand, the court has delayed its decision so that my apparent psychiatric problems will be cured. I do not think this is possible in prison.

“My case is supposed to be sent to the court shortly, because the prosecutor has the right to hold a case only for 30 days. The court’s decision is most definitely going to be the death penalty for me, because the prosecutor has accused me under Clause 139 of the criminal code which says, ‚ÄòIf the crime is not cited in the criminal code, then the case has to be referred to the Islamic sharia law.’

“Furthermore, my mother died less than a month ago from the grief that her beloved son was jailed with the threat of the death penalty over him. The authorities did not even allow me to attend the funeral ceremonies and pay my respects to her. This is against Clause 37 of in the law regarding prisons. Not seeing my mother for the last time was more painful than anything else. I would like to add that freedom is a gift from God. This means that we have to respect human freedom and dignity. Clause 24 of Afghan Constitution says, ‚ÄòHuman freedom and dignity is an unalterable right. The government is committed to respect and protect human freedom and dignity.’

“Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is violated if the Afghan government does not respect Articles 18 and 19. Article 3 of Declaration of Human Rights says: ‚ÄòEveryone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.’ Simply stated, if sharia law is implemented in my case, the Articles 1, 2, 3, 18 and 19 of the Declaration Human Rights will be violated. I request that you follow my case.

Sincerely,

Shoib (Signature and finger print)”

Shoib was arrested on 21 October 2010 for giving a New Testament to a man who reportedly turned him in to authorities. He has no legal representation and has been pressurised to recant his faith. The authorities have tried to build a case that he is insane in order to explain his change of faith and possibly to justify a more lenient sentence for him, sources have said. Diplomatic efforts are underway to secure Shoib’s release. (Barnabas Fund/Compass Direct)