On 3 September 2022, Karl Hafen spoke to Patras Masih via video conference, translated by his lawyer Aneeqa Maria Anthony.
Dear Patras Masih, we were very happy to hear about your release. How are you doing? When were you released and how were you released?
Patras: Thank you for always being there and thank you for supporting me. I am doing well, I was released on September 2, 2022 and my bail was accepted by the Supreme Court on August 24, 2022.
Have you been in contact with your family? If so, how is your family doing?
Patras: Yes! I have contact with my family. My family is happy and doing well. They are also grateful for all your support.
We learned about your arrest in February 2018 – four years ago – through Aneeqa. Since then, we have repeatedly reported on your fate, that of your family and that of your cousin Sajiid. Have you already been in contact with your cousin? Do you know how he is doing?
Patras: I was arrested on February 19, 2018. My cousin Sajjid was also a victim of hate. Yes, I am in contact with him. He is doing well.
Did you learn in prison that you were being reported on abroad? If so, when did you first hear about it and from whom?
Patras: Yes! I knew in prison, Madam Aneeqa told me about your actions when she visited me in prison in March 2018.
You were beaten by extremists at the courtroom hearing. Were you also beaten by the police or in prison? If so, who beat you and why?
Patras: Yes! I was beaten by the extremists in the courtroom, by TLP members, and by the police when I was in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency, but not in prison. But I was threatened by the police that they would put me in solitary confinement or with the felons. They said they will kill me because I am a blasphemer and they have the right to do that.
I am interested in the prison conditions: Approximately how big was your cell? How was it equipped? How many prisoners were in it?
Patras: The prison conditions in Pakistan are not very friendly. There is room for about 3,000 people in the prison. In fact, there were more than 6,000 people inside. It is even difficult to breathe there. My cell was very small. Its size was about six by eight feet (about 1.80 m by 2.50 m, editor’s note) including a washroom inside. There were six of us in a cell. Five of us could put our legs so that we could fit in the cell, but one of us had to sleep on the floor of the washroom. Our cell was called a security cell. We were all accused of blasphemy. We were not allowed to go out in the yard for long. So we had to stay in our cell most of the day.
What was your daily routine like? When did you have to get up or sleep? What did you do during the day?
Patras: We had to get up in the morning around seven o’clock, they let us out in the yard for two hours, and then they locked us up again. In the evening they let us out again for half an hour.
How many times were there meals a day? What did they serve?
Patras: Meals were served three times a day. They gave us breakfast at six o’clock, lunch around 1 p.m., and dinner around 5 p.m.. The meals were not very hygienic or healthy. There was roti’ (bread) and cooked vegetables or lentils and the like.
Were you afraid that your fellow prisoners or the guards would attack you? You were accused of blasphemy.
Patras: Yes! When I was outside in the yard, I was always afraid that someone would kill me, because there have been many cases in the past where people were killed by the other inmates on blasphemy charges.
You said that your fellow inmates are accused of blasphemy. What faith were your fellow inmates?
Patras: They were all Christians.
Were you able to pray in the cell? Did you pray?
Patras: Yes! We could pray in our cells. I prayed day and night that this temptation would pass.
Did you have contact with a priest from your parish? Did a priest visit you?
Patras: No! Every prison has a pastor assigned to it, but it’s in the papers. We don’t have a priest or anyone to lead our prayers. We did that ourselves. Each time one of us took turns leading the prayer.
What do you wish for your future and that of your family?
Patras: I want to be safe and healthy, that’s what I wish for my family. I want to live freely, and I wish this for all my fellow human beings who have spent their time in prison in agony and pain.
I wish you all the best for the future. We will continue to follow your path.
Patras: Thank you very much for everything you have done for me and for everyone else. God bless you.