Prisoners of Conscience was delighted to hear the news that Asia Bibi has left Pakistan after blasphemy acquittal. However, her story is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our experiences supporting prisoners of conscience in Pakistan show that there are hundreds of cases similar to Asia’s. Many religious minorities suffer discrimination, persecution and violence simply because they do not follow Islam. This includes forced marriages, removal of land rights and lack of access to justice for everyday human rights.
Since 2015 PoC has provided around 20 grants a year, with total grants around £15,000 a year, to prisoners of conscience from minority groups in Pakistan, but there are many more people who need our help.
Tahmina is a refugee from Pakistan. She knows first hand the trauma of persecution and the challenges of starting a new life in a country far from home.
Tahmina is from the Ahmadi community in Pakistan, a community that is routinely discriminated against. Tahmina was an architect and lecturer at the University of Punjab. Her husband was a leading figure of the community and came under attack while at work. He decided to bring his family to the UK, which has a strong Ahmadi community.
However, rebuilding their life has proved challenging, not least because to continue working, Tahmina needed to requalify with RIBA, something that is prohibitively expensive. Prisoners of Conscience supported her with funding towards half of her living costs while she completed a new qualification in Urban Design that will enable her to work.