ISLAMABAD, Aug 19: Human rights organisations have condemned and criticised the arrest of an 11-year-old minor Christian girl who was charged for blasphemy, followed by threats to her family members by the religious extremists.

In a  joint statement by all chapters of the national platform for women’s rights, Khawateen Mahaz-e-Amal (Women’s Action Forum – WAF) have condemned the arrest of an 11-year-old minor Christian girl suffering from Down Syndrome, and termed the whole saga as ‘fabricated charges of blasphemy’.

“WAF is outraged at the total inhumanity of the men who lodged the FIR in the police station — bigoted zealots; on the occasion of Jumatul-Wida, towards the end of Ramazan,” the joint statement said, adding that the concerned people did not even consider the little girl’s mental and physical incapacity and disability, due to her Down Syndrome from birth.

WAF said that lodging of case and subsequent death threats and harassment of the Christian community of Mehrabad near Golra village, Islamabad has resulted in fear among them as many of the residents have fled their homes and are hiding for their lives, leaving their homes at the risk of looting and arson.

WAF strongly condemns the Islamabad police who allegedly broke several Pakistani laws in the case.

The statements said that the first law ignored in filing of the case was arresting a minor girl not culpable under the barbaric blasphemy law; secondly the police did not seek to apply the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO).

The other laws not followed in the case according to WAF are allegedly keeping her in a male police station overnight, instead of in the Women’s Police Station of Islamabad/ICT and shifting her to Adiala jail.

The authorities did not permit lawyers or civil society representatives to visit her at either place of incarceration, failing to protect the life and property of non-Muslim citizens of Pakistan; as well as other laws and Constitutional rights and protections.

WAF demands that the federal interior minister, Islamabad administration and Capital police to immediately release and shift the little girl to a shelter/crisis centre in the utmost secrecy for her protection and safety.

It is urgently required to take the child for a medical test, to determine whether she has been raped. Also to delete the unfounded charge of “blasphemy” in the FIR against a minor who is not culpable either mentally or physically, use the provisions of the JJSO for her protection, grant lawyer visitation rights for her defence and  civil society for counselling help and take immediate steps to protect the life and property of all Christians of Mehrabad/Golra and elsewhere.

“We hang our heads in utter shame at the treatment of our minorities, particularly Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis, are receiving at the hands of both Islamist extremists and government functionaries, whose fundamental duty is to protect their life, property, honour and dignity,” WAF has said.

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