Two Pakistani Ex-Muslim Atheist Sisters in Turmoil, Seeking Asylum in Sri Lanka
We are two Pakistani atheist sisters that are seeking asylum in Sri Lanka. My name is Asmaa Azeem and my sisters, Fatima Azeem. There are a lot of complications we are facing at the moment. Our initial plan was to move to the Uk and settle there, but our family is trying to hunt us down and take us back to Pakistan. I am 22 years of age, and my younger sister is 16. We have been victims of child abuse and later, oppression, sexual harassment and now we face persecution back in our home country as our parents are conservative Muslims, and we ourselves are Atheists. Our story has been published in the news papers in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India, alongside with a brief video interview taken by the Sri Lankan media. I was a student back in the UK and I am still enrolled at Royal Holloway University of London, though my parents confiscated my passport from me. Hence I lost the student visa with it, which is valid till 31st October 2011. I am pasting links for the newspaper article that was posted about us and a brief video interview we gave to the media, though the video doesnt do justice to our story. Moreover, Im pasting the links for our Facebook page, Facebook group, Reddit, where we have posted the detailed version of our story.
For this petition, Im jotting down a brief rendition of our story.I arrived in Pakistan on the 4th of September, 2010. After a week, I realized that my passport was missing. My mother made me believe that it was stolen at the airport, or that I was a victim of black magic. Eventually I managed to find my passport in our parents room and she admitted to have taken it - reason being, that they felt that I had dishonored the family by working as a waitress at Nandos (UK), and that I wanted to enroll to a music college in the UK. For two straight months, we were locked up in the house and were kept on a curfew.
During these two months, we couldnt leave the house, at all. After two months, one of our first cousins came for a visit. After a short period of time, in his presence, they allowed us to go out, and we availed this opportunity to the maximum - I applied for a new passport, and received it. Over the next month, we planned our escape. We were aware of the fact, that once we stepped foot out of the house, we had to flee the country, as our moms brother, is extremely influential with the Pakistani government; having links with people from within the Pakistani High Commission, Ministry of interior, Police Department and apart from that he was on good terms with Ex-Prime Ministers brother. We decided to go to Sri Lanka on a one month tourist visa that would be given to us on arrival. We escaped on the 28th of January, and now reside in Sri Lanka. As we suspected, our mothers brother contacted the head of the police department, and the head of the ministry of interior in Pakistan. They requested them to put us on the Exit Control List (ECL). This meant that we wouldnt be allowed to leave Pakistan.Fortunately, it was issued the day of our escape, so it was too late
We still have the mail that was used as a threat, as proof. Once we received the mail, we had no option but to contact UNHCR and seek for asylum, as I thought that being on the ECL wouldnt allow us to get approved for any sort of visa. Our case at the moment with UNHCR is pending, though due to undue pressure from the Pakistani government, brought on, because of our uncle being influential with the Pakistani government; our application was made a priority
The UNHCR usually takes about 5 to 6 months to call in for an interview, and we were called within a month. I dont know whether that is in our favor or not, as I am aware that there exist a comradely between Sri Lanka and Pakistan, hence I fear, that our application might get rejected.
Now the current situation is that, our uncle and our mother arrived in Colombo, looking for us on the 4th February. The contacted the tourist police, and made up the story that my sister and I, came to Sri Lanka for touring purposes and are now missing. The police managed to track us down, but after having shown them the asylum seeker certificate issued to us by the UNHCR, they backed off.
During this period, we were forced to confront our mother at the police station, and she denied to have done anything and threatened us that we would never be able to leave Sri lanka and that she would stay here until we did. My younger sister is 16, a minor, and our parents are her legal guardians. Mymother now wants to take my sister back, torture her and use her as a bargaining chip to get me back to Pakistan. There was a court case going on in the Juvenile Court, but the case was dismissed on the 14th March, as under certain Sri Lankan law, my sister wasnt considered a minor. We have no insight as to what our family plans on doing next.
We are petitioning to be settled to an English speaking, liberal country, UK being a preference (as having lived for two years, I got acquainted to a lot of people, who are willing to support us). We are capable enough to make something out of our lives, if given a chance. We are fighting hard for our freedom and we really need help. We have limited funds, but enough to spend a few months in the UK, until we manage to get jobs.
Please sign the petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/twogirlsfightingfortheirfreedom/