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Appendix A: Testimony from Ahmadi community members
The mission met with a number of Ahmadi community members who had volunteered to recount their experiences. The number of people interviewed was restricted by the time available (2.30-5.00pm, 10 October 2006). Some requested that their names be withheld from publication due to ongoing problems in Pakistan. All provided proof of their identity and many produced copies of legal documents such as FIRs.
ZB, wife of MH, from Sialkot, and their son NA (23 years old)
ZB’s husband travelled to the UK on 8 August 2004 and claimed asylum. She told the mission that he was in fear of his life following an edict against him by Mullah Manzoor, the local head of Khatme Nabuwwat for Sialkot area, following his conversion to the Ahmadi faith in 1997.
He had owned his own shop in Sialkot, but after the edict was issued a mob had come and beaten him up, leaving him for dead. Later they ransacked the shop; the local union of shopkeepers was involved with the mob. He had reported the matter to the Police, but they had refused to enter a FIR and said ‘if you want to save your life, get away from here.’ He had been in hospital for 2-3 days after which the Ahmadi community had arranged for him to travel to Rabwah.
In 1997 MH's father had persuaded ZB and the children to stay in Sialkot, hoping they would give up the Ahmadi faith. However, the children were targeted at school, and the neighbours tipped rubbish in front of their house. In 1998 they followed MH to Rabwah, and lived in the guest house there until 2004.
The rest of MH’s (non-Ahmadi) family had taken over the shop. His father lived in their house in Sialkot. However ZB's brother found out where the family were, and she started receiving letters in 2001, threatening to kill her. Her uncle's cousin wrote to her demanding that she transfer her property to him — if not, he wrote that he knew where she was and would abduct her children: it was up to her. Her elder son had been working in Lahore, but people (including his own cousins) had threatened him, so he too came to Rabwah in July 2003.
After MH’s aging father had signed over his property to his family, the family disowned him. He joined MH in Rabwah in 2003, and died there the following year. MH (whose photograph had been circulated by Khatme Nabuwwat at their conference in Rabwah) was shot at during his father’s funeral in Rabwah. It was at this point that he decided that he had to leave Pakistan.
Since then ZB had suffered many problems; she had no house and no income. She did not know whether an FIR had been issued against her husband. His application for asylum in the UK was still pending.
ZM (born 6 June 1972)
ZM was born in Rabwah and, following problems with gaining employment due to his Ahmadi faith, had travelled to the UK in March 2004 and claimed asylum at the airport. His application for asylum was refused, and subsequently he was escorted by two people to the plane for Pakistan. He had applied for a travel document from the Pakistan High Commission in London because he had used a false passport to come to UK, but eventually he returned on the false passport. On arrival in Pakistan, he had been handed to the Federal Investigation Agency, who had detained him, forcing him to remain seated on a chair for 5 days. Finally they charged him for using a false passport and released him. He now has to report to court every month.
Mr. Rashid Ahmed (68 years old)
Mr. Ahmed had printed a pamphlet written by the late Khurshid Ahmad, the President of the Ahmadi Community in Rabwah, and an Ahmadi official, Qazi Muneer, advising Ahmadis on how to use their prayers for their improvement. Mr Ahmed had been charged with blasphemy under section 298c of the Penal Code, under an FIR registered on 22 May 1989 on the order of the Home Secretary of the Provincial Government, Punjab. The Ahmadi Community had arranged for bail before he was arrested, and he took the bail certificate and deposited it with the police.
[The mission were shown a document together with a translation, headed ‘Punjab Home Department Lahore, May, 1989.’ Under the subject heading ‘Rabwah Affairs’ the document refers to a pamphlet entitled ‘Tarbayyati Amoor’, published by ‘Committee Islah-o-Irshad Local Anjuman-e-Ahmadiyya, Rabwah’. The document concludes ‘The contents of the enclosed Pomphlet (sic) contain objectionable material actionable u/s 298 C … SHO, PS, Rabwah to register the case’.]
Mr. Ahmed later (on 5 August) went with the legal advisor to the community, Tahir Mubarik, to the UK for a conference, and stayed abroad for about two months. After he returned in October 1989, he met by chance with the local magistrate who told him that a supplementary amendment had been made to his FIR under article 298c and a case had been registered against him. He then went to court with his legal adviser and, on 2 January 1990 he received bail again. Since that time he has had to attend court in Chiniot every 15 days, sometimes waiting all day for the case to be called. Each time the police fail to produce witnesses and the case is adjourned, without any criticism of the police. He has applied for the case to be dismissed, but he believes the magistrate is too frightened of the mullahs to order this: he has been told the police will arrange for all the witnesses to come together on one occasion.
He has not yet gone to a higher court, as there are some 60 cases like his, and his lawyer wants to take them all to the higher court together.
Mr. MN (born 15 April 1928)
An FIR was issued against MN under article 298c on 10 June 1988 because he had published a Ramadan calendar to distribute to patients of his herbal medicine clinic near Rabwah and had mentioned the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (with the words ‘Peace be upon him’). An FIR was registered against him by Mullah Khuda Bakh from Khatme Nabuwwat at Rabwah Police Station. He was arrested at his clinic the same day, held overnight at the Police Station and transferred to a police post for one day and then taken to Chiniot prison for 5 days until bail was arranged. Since then the case had been called and adjourned every 15 or 30 days at Chiniot: twice his bail had been cancelled and he had had to re-arrange it. There was no reason for the adjournments, but he had to attend court every time. His lawyer has asked for his case to be dismissed on many occasions.
Mr. Abdul Shakoor (born 19 May 1935)
In 1974 Mr. Shakoor had an optician's shop in Sargoda, Punjab, which, together with his house, was ransacked and looted at the time of agitation against the Ahmadi Community. However, in 1985 he was charged with blasphemy under article 298c because of a statement he had made in support of his Ahmadi belief. After a year in prison he finally obtained bail, but was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 3 years in prison and a 5000 Rupee fine. This was quashed on appeal to the Sessions court. He then moved to Rabwah, where he set up a new shop with Qu'ranic verses painted on the outside. He was again arrested under the blasphemy laws (298c) and obtained bail after 14 days. However, he was convicted and sentenced to 2 years imprisonment (and a 3000 rupee fine) - but this was quashed on appeal. In December 1990 four further FIRs were issued in Rabwah by Mullah Khuda Bakh from Khatme Nabuwwat after Mr Shakoor offered Ahmadi books for sale at his shop. He was charged again under article 298c, but since then the case had been adjourned every month because the Mullah who brought the charge failed appear at court. His lawyer has made applications for his case to be dismissed on many occasions, without success. The Mullah is not arrested to appear, the case is simply adjourned. Mr. Shakoor reported that the local Mullahs will come and stand in front of his shop and shout abuse at him. This happens about four times per year (last occasion about 3 months ago) and forces him to close his shop until they leave.