The moving last letter of Christian Pakistani who is set to hang in Pakistan on June 10n.
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: "I will be hanged by the neck until dead" - Aftab Bahadur
Aftab Bahadur Masih is expected to be executed tomorrow, 10 June 2015.
He has now been on death row for over 22 years. The Asian Human Rights
Commission is reproducing a translation of a letter Aftab wrote
recently from his prison cell in Kot Lakhpat, Lahore. The letter has
been translated from Urdu by Reprieve <http://www.reprieve.org.uk/>
, an organization helping Aftab with pro bono legal assistance.
Since 19 December 2014, a total of 138 persons have been executed in
Pakistan. The government plans to execute 500 convicts in 2015, as
stated by Pakistan's Interior Minister. There are approximately
8,000 convicts on death row in Pakistan. The Asian Human Rights
Commission urges the international community to pressure the
government to stop converting Pakistan into a land of executions.
Pakistan's death row prisoner Aftab Bahadur: 'On Wednesday I will be taken to the gallows and hanged'
The moving last letter to the outside world of Christian Pakistani who is set to hang in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat prison.
- By Aftab Nazir BahadurJune 8, 2015 15:34 BST
I am set to be hanged on Wednesday. They will take me to the gallows in the middle of the night and that, I suppose, will be that after all this time.
Indeed, it has been a long time - more than 22 years - since I was arrested for something I did not do in September 1992. I was just 15 years old then, and now I have spent most of my life waiting on Death Row.
I must admit that I feel hopelessness, but I look to God for help. I have watched several people go to their deaths over the years - many more in the past months since the moratorium was lifted in December.
Each time someone is led away, I pray for his life and forgiveness – maybe forgiveness for the crime he committed, but if he is innocent, maybe I just pray that God should forgive his sins, as I would for any of us.
Many years ago now, when I heard the judge pronounce the death sentence, I was shocked, my mind was paralysed. They say here in Pakistan that they "award" you the death penalty: it was beyond anything I could imagine, because the judge was sentencing me to the ultimate punishment for something that I didn't do.
People ask whether I would not just rather go ahead and die, after all this time on death row. But no, I do not prefer death because then I would be wasting my life, and that is a sin. I just pray for the mercy of God. And perhaps there is someone with power who can show mercy here on Earth as well.
I try to keep up hope. I try to do something with my time. I like painting, so I keep myself busy that way. I do it to keep my disappointment and hopelessness at arm's length from me, each day in my prison cell. I am hopeful that God will "award" me freedom and better future.
The case of Aftab Bahadur
Aftab Bahadur was sentenced to death on 5th September 1992 for the murder of Sabiha Bari and her two sons.
The other person accused of the crime, Ghulam Mustafa, a plumber with whom Aftab worked as a plumber's apprentice, was arrested early in the morning of 6thSeptember 1992, and the police used torture to force him to implicate Aftab.
Ghulam has recently stated that Aftab had nothing to do with the crime, for which there was only one eyewitness. He has also made a statement before a religious figure saying he lied, and that he was not even there and did not see Aftab commit the crime.
Aftab insists he is innocent.
Pakistan has executed as many as 150 prisoners since lifting its moratorium on the death penalty in December.
Or, maybe I should say, a future at all since I was little more than a child when I was locked up. I have not had much of a life so far.
Most of the people here, like me, are facing many punishments, rather than just one. If I had been sentenced to life, I would perhaps have served ten years in prison and then gone free. But my first punishment was losing my parents; I have no one who is alive who comes to visit me.
My second punishment was the mental death that visits us all, because there is a limit beyond which it is impossible to bear the pain and agony.
How could a person be normal after just ten years, with the possibility every day of hearing that you were finally going to the gallows? And yet for me, it has been more than twice that long. I have served this dreadful life sentence already, and yet they want me to suffer another punishment on Wednesday - death by hanging.
I have a message to the people outside the jail, it would be a request: Please do whatever is possible to save the people who are suffering from this double punishment, first life in prison, then death.
Maybe you will not save me, but perhaps you will save someone. And what greater contribution can you make than to save a human life?
Aftab Bahadur is a prisoner in Pakistan, convicted in 1992 of murder that he claims he did not commit.