An important U.S. Congressional hearing on Plight of Prisoners of Conscience was held by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at Capitol Hill today, it is reported.
The Chairman of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Dr. Robert George, testified before the Commission highlighting incidents after incidents of persecution resulting from free exercise of conscience in many parts of the world.
USCIRF Chairman in his testimony before the commission highlighted the plight of Ahamdis due to the infamous blasphemy and anti-Ahmadi laws in Pakistan and specially underscored the case of two Ahmadi Muslim prisoners in Saudi Arabia.
Dr. George said the Saudi government continues to prosecute, convict, and imprison individuals charged with crimes such as apostasy, blasphemy, and sorcery.
Speaking specifically about the two men who were arrested in May 2012 by the Saudi government for apostasy when they joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, Dr. George said all information about the prisoners is being withheld by the Saudi government.
“These blank pages are all that we have available -- all that I have -- to call attention to these victims of oppression and prisoners of conscience,” said Dr. George while holding up the blank pages from prisoners’ case files . “We cannot even obtain pictures.”
“While they are facing the death penalty for apostasy they have been disappeared and their current whereabouts and status are unknown.”
Dr. George called on the Saudi government “to release these men who are guilty of no crime other than to exercise their right as human beings to religious freedom.”
Dr. George further demanded that the US government “press the Saudi government for the release of these Ahmadi prisoners and to cease and desist the harassment of this and other minorities.”
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community representative in his written testimony, in addition to the imprisonment case of Sultan and Saud al-Enezis in Saudi Arabia, also highlighted the cases of Dr. Masood Ahmad and three Ahmadis recently detained in Rajanpur, Pakistan.
Attorney Khan reminded the panel through his written submission that “in Pakistan, Ahmadi Muslims can be jailed for up to three years for “posing as Muslims” and using Islamic names or epithets for their places of worship or religious rituals.”
Mr Amjad Khan asserted that the Community is persecuted primarily by religious extremists "who espouse a militant perversion of Islam."
“Our Community strongly believes that all such religious extremism must be cut at its root,” Amjad Khan stressed in his testimony. “We welcome any and all efforts by the U.S. Government to release all prisoners of conscience regardless of their religious beliefs or affiliation.”
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