5- Prisoners of Conscience

Prisoners of conscience

Ahmadis do not have to be criminals, in the normal sense of the word, to end up in prison in Pakistan. The system is designed that their daily religious routines, that for a non-Ahmadi are considered to be acts of piety, can be readily adjudged as criminal acts by courts. Ahmadis are known to have been awarded prison terms for saying Salaam, the Islamic greeting. The system allows the police to arrest an Ahmadi simply on the complaint of a mulla supported by a hired witness. Magistrates and judges are free to exercise their discretion in refusing bail to the accused, and Ahmadis have often to apply to higher courts for release on bail. A decision on bail may take months, even years.

Ahmadis have stayed in prisons for years while undergoing trials on religious charges, eventually being acquitted. To do some justice to the description of prison life in Pakistan would require a Tolstoy. Ahmadi victims of the legal system normally have no prior experience of police stations, prisons and courts; some of them are known to have suffered permanent damage to their mental health after a stay in prison.

Since the promulgation of Ordinance XX not a single day has passed that an Ahmadi was not in prison on faith-based accusation. (March 2011)

In this sub-section, only a very brief mention is made of Ahmadis who suffered incarceration. Relevant details of their cases are available in other sub-sections in appropriate category.




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