Jubilee Campaign welcomes the European Parliament Resolution that passed today and echoes the call for the European Commission to “immediately review” the trade deal with Pakistan (GSP+) in light of the provision of the death penalty for blasphemy and the use of blasphemy laws to arbitrarily incarcerate numerous individuals.
|The European Parliament passes a resolution in support of blasphemy victims in Pakistan. Amongst the provisions the Resolution calls on the EAS to review “immediately” the trade agreement with Pakistan given its numerous human rights violations and urges all EU and European diplomatic personnel to “do everything they can” to provide support and protection for Shagufta Kausar and Shafqat Emmanuel.|
|BRUSSELS, 29 APRIL 2021 – Dutch Parliamentarian Peter van Dalen walks up to the podium of the European Parliament and holds up the picture of Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar and says, “Colleagues, I ask that you take a good look at this photo, because this is the couple in discussion today who are imprisoned in Pakistan.” |
He goes on to share about the situation of Shafqat and Shagufta Kausar, how authorities arrested them in 2013 and the court sentenced them to death in 2014. The courts accused the couple of sending a text message in English which was allegedly blasphemous, Peter van Dalen raises his arms at the absurdity and adds, “when they hardly know their own language Urdu.”
He describes how the couple have been trying to appeal the sentence for over seven years but the case has been continuously postponed, “because Islamic extremists have put pressure on the judges.” Another member describes how the Pakistani authority actions have effectively orphaned the couple’s four children.
Jubilee Campaign have joined the international outcry, sending joint letters to the Prime Minister of Pakistan calling for the couple’s release and raising concerns with the blasphemy laws and the arbitrary detention of the couple with the United Nations. Jubilee Campaign have also been trying to get congressional members to adopt [advocate for] the Christian couple through the Religious Prisoners of Conscience Working Group. Amnesty International has also started an Urgent Action Letter Campaign for them.
MEP Peter van Dalen emphasised how as he raises the case of Shafqat and Shagufta he also thinks about the countless of other individuals facing arbitrary sentences, “many, possibly hundreds, of other believers.” He concluded with the main goal of the resolution – urging the European Commission to review the GSP+ trade relationship with Pakistan in light of their human rights violations as a result of the “horrible blasphemy law.”
|MEP PETER VAN DALEN Intervention During the Debate [translated]|
Dear Colleagues please take a good look at this photo. This is the couple in question today. I have asked you to take a good look at this picture because it is about these people who are imprisoned in Pakistan.
They have been arrested and have been in prison since 2013 and were sentenced to death in 2014. This Christian couple. They have been accused of forwarding text messages in English over a telephone to a number of people. Allegedly blasphemous messages. They can hardly speak their own language, Urdu.
They are now sentenced to death and are awaiting appeal. The case has been postponed numerous times in Lahore. That is probably because Islamic extremists have put pressure on the judges. I would therefore like to express my special thanks to their lawyer: Saif ul-Malook. He is defending this couple, as he has previously successfully defended Asia Bibi, who is now free.
At the same time, I am thinking not only of this couple, but also of the many – possibly hundreds – of other believers. Believers imprisoned for blasphemy in Pakistan. I am think of Ahmadis, Shi’a Muslims. Thinking of Sikhs and Hindus. Numerous detainees all arrested because of the wretched blasphemy law.
I am very pleased that in fact all political groups have made a strong joint resolution on this issue. Mainly to ask the European Commission to review the GSP + trade relationship with Pakistan. Pakistan has a lot of advantages and they need to be looked at critically.