The EU institutions have been urged to act urgently in the case of Pakistan’s alleged continued human rights abuses.
In the letter, delivered by hand by Brussels spokesman of Paris-based Alliance Internationale des Droits et des Libertés, Andy Vermaut, to the Brussels offices of Borrell, a former Spanish MEP, on Wednesday, the NGOs particularly highlighted the abuses of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.
The letter follows a recent conference on the matter, hosted by the Press Club in Brussels, which was addressed by former European Commissioner Jan Figel, MEP Peter van Dalen and others.
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From Great Britain, the House of Commons All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief has since declared its support for the campaign.
One of the organisers of the letter told this site that there is particular concern about Pakistan’s current country’s blasphemy laws, and the lack of respect for the presumption of innocence.
The letter handed to Borrell, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, cites article 12 of a European parliament Joint Motion For A Resolution, dated April 28 and passed by 681 votes.
The recent conference heard that of the benefits given as a result of the current agreement with Pakistan, around 20% only accrued to the EU, causing, in the opinion of the conference, no significant potential detrimental economic impact on the EU or the member states should the agreement be suspended.
During the conference, the names of 47 prisoners who are currently held on blasphemy charges in Pakistan were read out.
They are: Mubashir Ahmed; Gulab Ahmed; Ahtesham Ahmed; Zahid Ahmed; Ahmed Waqar; Anwar; Islam; Mailik Ashraf; Anwar Ashgar; Ahmed Ashgar; Noor Ashgar; Malik Ashraf; Kausar Ayub; Amud Ayub; Taimur; Siya; Raza; Zafar Bati; Md. Safi; Md. Shehzad; Rehmat Ali; Asif; Md. Aslam; Arif Mehdi; Junaid; Hafeez; Abdul Hamid; Md. Faruq; Hayai Bin; Malik; Md. Humayan Faysal; Aftab Mastargil; Nadeem James; Arif Massih; Saudi Issaq; Abdul Karim; Imran Massih; Yakub; Ishfaq Massih; Saba Massih; Bashir; Mastan Mushtaq; Shamsuddin; Md. Yussaf; Inayat Rasool; Iqbal and Md. Aslam.
The list comprises Ahmediyyas, Shias, Hindus, and Christians.
Sixteen of these have been handed a death sentence.
Since the conference took place, one more prisoner has been identified to the organisors, Stephen Masih, a 40-year-old Christian who has a history of mental disability.
No one from the EEAS was immediately available for comment to this website on Wednesday.
The letter is signed by the following organisations: the Alliance Internationale des Droits et des Libertés; Baloch Human Rights Council; Bitter Winter; British Pakistani Christians Ltd; Conscience et Libertès; the European Association for The Defense of Minorities (EADM); European-Association-for-The-Defense-of Minorities; Forum for Religious Freedom Europe (FOREF); Free Nadeem Samson Campaign; Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF); International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF); Minority Concern; the Noodt Foundation; PostVersa Fundamental Rights Chapter; Set My People Free and the Soteria International.
The organisers of the initiative reported on Thursday that the number of signatories continues to grow, mounting still further pressure on Josep Borrell.