I would like to draw your kind attention towards the worsening situation in district Layyah in Punjab, Pakistan. On 28 January 2009 by virtue of a police raid five members of the peaceful Ahmadiyya Muslim Community were arrested and charged under Section 295-C of the Pakistani Penal Code. In a grave blow to any standards of decency, four of the accused are children studying at the English language private school. Under the terms of Section 295-C any person found guilty is subject to either the death penalty or life imprisonment.
The arrests have been formally condemned by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), whilst Asma Jahangir the chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights has also condemned the arrests of the children as ‘heinous’.
After four hours in custody each of the accused was charged under the terms of section 295-C on the completely false grounds that they had written the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the walls of a toilet at the Jamia Gulzar-e-Medina Mosque. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community reveres the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the final law bearing prophet, who brought with him a universal teaching. No disrespect towards him could ever be tolerated by any Ahmadi; man, woman or child.
Mr Salim-ud-Din, Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Pakistan said:
“These allegations are completely false and baseless. The police have no evidence whatsoever and have merely succumbed to the pressure of those who spread religious hatred in the region.”
The children are not being allowed to meet with any persons, in direct contravention to the provisions laid forth in Article 37 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Pakistan is party.
Further to the arrests of the five Ahmadis, in the village of Chak 172/TDA the situation is becoming increasingly tense due to the acts of religious extremists in the area. A social boycott against the Ahmadis has started whereby it is not safe for them to travel home via normal routes and they are unable to purchase even food from the local shops.
Inflammatory posters in opposition to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are being displayed throughout the village.
The International Community is urged to take immediate action to bring an end to the increasingly dangerous and threatening situation that is developing in District Layyah (Pakistan).