PAKISTAN: Asia Bibi suffering from chicken pox

Asia Bibi (45) the Christian farm labourer sentenced to death under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, is suffering from chicken pox, and is very ill. There are growing concerns for her wellbeing.

In a statement issued yesterday, Haroon Barket Masih, president of the Masih Foundation (a Pakistani charity dedicated to helping and protecting the poor and vulnerable), said: “Asia Bibi was diagnosed with chicken pox. She has been kept in solitary confinement for more than three months. We have expressed concern about her health, because she spends 24 hours a day locked in the cell. She needs medical care, hygienic and healthy conditions.

“She fell ill with chickenpox because of the dirty environment, and being unable to clean her room or bed sheets on which she sleeps. Despite her ill health she spends her time fasting and praying for everyone, she neglects her health and prays for everyone else. She is concerned about the current situation in Pakistan. We are trying to arrange a medical examination, and to ensure acceptable hygienic conditions. Until now she has had no medical care.”

SITUATION FOR CHRISTIANS WORSENS

The situation for Christians in Pakistan worsens by the day, with a growth of violent extremism. Perviaz Masih, a Christian from the small town of Lala Musa, 75 km from Lahore, is the father of three children and works for Pakistan Railways. When the Koran was burned in Florida, Pervaiz defended his faith in a discussion at work, saying, “Christianity is a religion of peace, and we condemn this act.” His colleagues began to threaten Pervaiz, and he and his family fled their home on 4 April. They are in hiding.

Anthony Rufin, Roman Catholic Bishop of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, commented, “I am saddened by the news about Asia Bibi… It’s a difficult time for the minorities in Pakistan. Incidents of violence are becoming more numerous; for how long will we live in fear? How many more Pervaiz Masih will have to live in hiding? We must work together for a campaign to promote harmony and tolerance. This Lent we pray for peace in Pakistan, a Pakistan where we can all live freely.” (AsiaNews)