Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) appreciates LHC judgment of acquitting Sawan Masih from Blasphemy Case
Sawan Masih, 38 years old sanitary worker from the eastern city of Lahore, was acquitted on October 5 2020, after spending more than six years on death row.
Sawan Masih, husband of Sobia and father of three children – daughter Noor (16), son Saim (14) and daughter Rebecca (12), was convicted On March 8, 2013 of insulting Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during a conversation with a Muslim friend. According to his Muslim friend Shahid Imran Sawan Masih had insulted Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during a conversation by saying “My Jesus is genuine. He is the Son of Allah. He will return while your Prophet is false. My Jesus is true and will give salvation.”
In which more than 3,000 people rampaged through Joseph Colony, and torched more than 150 Christian homes, 75 shops, and at least two churches, including the Masih family’s home, as local mosques announced the accusation against Masih from their loudspeakers.
According to Sawan Masih’ court statement, he had not committed blasphemy and accused Shahid Imran, for involving him in a fake as a local businessmen wanted to get a piece of a land in the area.
Therefore, they used blasphemy allegations to drive Christians from Joseph Colony so they could seize it for industrial use. “They contrived a case and got it filed by a person who was close to me. I am innocent,” Sawan Masih told the court.
The appellant raised several objections to the police investigation and said the charges were fabricated by elements who wanted to occupy the colony.
On March 27, 2014, Justice Chaudhry Ghulam Murtaza, sentenced Sawan Masih to death and fined him 200,000 Pakistani Rupees, under Section 295-C (PPC), in a trial held in the Lahore Camp Jail due to security concerns.
On the other hand, the anti-terrorism court in 2017, had acquitted more than 100 suspects accused of involvement in the attack, but Masih, was still in the Jail awaiting for justice from the Court.
Pastor Javed Bashir, of Voice of Christ Pentecostal Church, Karachi, in his comments has said that in Pakistan, false accusations of blasphemy are widespread and often motivated by personal vendettas or religious hatred. The Blasphemy laws are often used to settle personal disputes. But the decision of Lahore High Court division bench headed by Justice Syed Shehbaz Ali Rizvi on Oct. 6. 2020 has proved that there is justice in our Country.
Mr. Joseph Francis, head of Centre for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), an organization that provides legal assistance to Christians facing blasphemy charges in his comments has said that Sawan Masih would be freed soon but his family faces threats and is in hiding.
Francis also reminded that there are at least 12 more Christians whose appeals against death sentences on blasphemy charges are pending but this is the second case in which a Christian has been acquitted, after Asia Bibi, having blasphemy charges Pakistan.
Ms Michelle Chaudhry President of The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) in a statement issued today said “There is no doubt that the rule of law has been upheld and justice has prevailed. However unfortunately an innocent person has had to lose over seven precious years of his life and no one is held responsible; he and his family have had to endure extremely traumatic circumstances for a crime that was never committed. This in itself demands for the authorities to look into/revisit Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and take concrete measures to curb its misuse.”
Ms Chaudhry questioned “How many more innocent people need to face the brutality of prison, how many more families need to be traumatized, how many more homes need to be shattered, how many more innocent lives need to lost, how many more children need to be orphaned, before the Government of Pakistan can turn its attention towards the misuse of this law that is drastically affecting the lives of both Muslim and non – Muslim Pakistanis?”
The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) extends complete solidarity with Sawan Masih and his family.
The Cecil & Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF) is an independent, non-government, non-profit organization, dedicated to the eradication of injustice in society by advocating on behalf of the underprivileged, under represented and marginalized groups within Pakistan.