Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi, BrigGen (ret.): "We are both Muslims, followers of a religion that connotes by itself through peace and tolerance"
My dear General, dear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,
As a retired BrigGen of a Muslim country that enjoys very cordial relations with you, I consider it my privilege to claim some vital commonalities with you.
- We both are retired soldiers of a noble profession, which always upholds the values and respect for comrades in arms during peacetime, no matter what country they belong to.
- We are both Muslims, followers of a religion that connotes by itself through peace, emphasizes tolerance and respect for the mankind.
- Like you, during my approx. 32 years of military service, though at much lower rank, I had to make certain tough decisions, no matter what professional perils lurked around me. I understand that the situation I choose to write about is extremely demanding, that it may tax your conscience as well as leadership abilities.
Coming to the point, as I have read in the media, three Catholics, namely Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu have been sentenced to death. I have also read that the clemency option of the three persons has been declined by you. I understand, your Excellency, that the judiciary and the executive leadership of a proud nation are above such considerations as to whether criminals are Catholic or Muslim while dispensing justice. However, there is a lot to suggest that the three condemned persons have not been given a just trial and the ability to defend themselves, and it is quite likely that some errant segment of the state administration, wittingly or unwittingly, may have impeded justice in one form or another. It is a universal dogma which suggests that a criminal may once a while be let off the hook, but never ever that an innocent person be set on the noose. All courts and certainly your respectable judiciary also follow this dogma in letter and spirit in order to make justice absolutely flawless. As a consequence, this dogma has led to the benefit of the doubt, a blessing that some real criminals manage to enjoy as well.
Thus, with due reverence and respect to you and your system, I beseech you that absolute care may kindly be exercised before the execution of the three Catholics is carried out. If you see an iota of doubt, kindly commute their death penalty in exercise of your power as Head of State or ask for a thorough review with a possibility to integrate a Christian judge into the panel of judges. I assure you that it would add to the dignity and grace of your nation that it always deserved.
I have meticulously followed the efforts put in by some eminent personalities like Dr. Hubertus Hofmann, General Klaus Naumann and Eduard von Bismarck to plead for the forgiveness or mitigation of the three convicts’ death sentence. I am particularly impressed by their plausible logic and depth of wisdom to implore to you on behalf of the people, now at Allah’s and your mercy.
Dr. Hubertus Hofmann even quoted to you from the Charter of Privileges granted by the Holy Prophet that I reproduce in order to reiterate my appeal, as there could have never been a more convincing pretext than these, “Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them! Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate ... No one of the nations (of Muslim) is to disobey the covenant till the Last day.”
I second Gen Klaus Naumann who has reminded you of the role the Christian world played in Europe to avert the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Bosnia and Kosovo. Being present there, who else would know better than you.
Your Excellency, when bitterness on the planet is reaching to the brim, let us be lavish in acknowledging and reciprocating the Christian world’s historic acts of compassion to Islam without reminding them of ours. That is a hallmark of the grace to be made an example among the proud nations and civilizations. May I also draw your kind attention to the fact that when Islam was still unfolding in Mecca, emissaries of the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, when forced to take refuge in the court of a Christian king, were not only saved by the king from the foes on their heels, he also became a lavish host to them, both in respect and deeds to the Muslims.
In that spirit, your Excellency, I humbly pray for their forgiveness, even if there is a shred of doubt about their culpability in the proceedings. In this case, erring on the safe side of justice may be a preferred option than committing to justice on the wrong side.
With profound regards,
I am your junior comrade in arms,
BrigGen (ret.) Muhammad Aslam Khan Niazi