By Ruth Limkin
My heart was heavy as I read of the death of a 21 year old Australian soldier in Afghanistan. Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to this young man, Jamie Larcombe, and we offer our deepest condolences to his parents, sister and girlfriend, as well as to his regiment.
There will be tears in Afghanistan tonight, and also in Australia.
Equally, my heart was heavy as I read of the much less publicised impending death of Afghani Red Cross/Crescent worker, and Christian, Said Musa.
Said has been sentenced to death for converting to Christianity.
It’s disturbing to read details of his trial.
He was forced to appear before a judge without any legal counsel and without knowledge of the charges against him. “Nobody [wanted to be my] defender before the court. When I said ‘I am a Christian man,’ he [a potential lawyer] immediately spat on me and abused me and mocked me. . . . I am alone between 400 [people with] terrible values in the jail, like a sheep.” He has been beaten, mocked, and subjected to sleep deprivation and sexual abuse while in prison. No Afghan lawyer will defend him and authorities denied him access to a foreign lawyer.
It’s a travesty of justice.
Jamal Khan, chief of staff at the Afghan Ministry of Justice said, ‘The sentence for a convert is death and there is no exception. They must be sentenced to death to serve as a lesson for others.’
There are tears in Afghanistan tonight. May there also be tears in Australia – as those of us who enjoy freedom of religion speak out for those who don’t.