VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Pakistan

Advertisements

Police in Pakistan Kill Young Christian Man in Raid, Relatives Say

Body of Waqas Masih. (Morning Star News)

Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Poor Christians in Pakistan commonly see police target them for extortion on false charges, and last week such a case ended in the death of a 24-year-old Christian, relatives said.

On the assumption that Christians with few legal resources can be targeted with impunity in the 96-percent Muslim country, policemen on May 29 killed Waqas Masih when his uncle refused their demand for money after they threatened to file false charges, the relatives said. Police are now pressuring the family to drop the murder case, they said.

The slain young man’s mother, a widow who belongs to a Pentecostal church, told Morning Star News that three policemen forced their way into the home of her brother, rickshaw driver Saleem Masih, in in Punjab Province’s Haider Colony, Gujrat District. Saleem Masih had recruited Waqas Masih and other relatives to help him with a construction project at his residence.

“Around 6 p.m., I was informed that three policemen had beaten my son to death,” Khalida Bibi, a sweeper at a hospital, told Morning Star News. “The police are now mounting pressure on us to ‘reconcile’ with their accused colleagues. They were initially reluctant to even arrest the accused, but eventually they had to take them into custody when we threatened to launch protests.”

Saleem Masih’s son, Emmanuel Saleem, told Morning Star News that he and other relatives were sitting in the courtyard of their home when three officers identified only as Shoaib, Shehbaz and Saqib forced their way in around 5:15 p.m.

“We asked them what they wanted, to which they said that they had information that we are drug peddlers and that they had raided the house to recover the narcotics,” he said, adding that the allegation was frivolous as the three policemen were notorious for blackmailing poor people in the area.

“We are poor Christians, but we earn our livelihood with honesty and integrity,” Emmanuel Saleem said. “We knew that the policemen were there for extorting money, but since we had done nothing wrong, my father chose to confront them rather than succumb to their blackmail.”

A heated argument ensued between his father and the police, and they began threatening to file false charges against him and other family members, he said.

“This must have panicked Waqas, who ran outside the house,” Emmanuel Saleem said. “The three cops ran after him, as did my other cousins, Qaiser and Dawood. The cops got hold of Waqas soon after and started hitting him mercilessly with punches, kicks and gun butts. Qaiser and Dawood tried to save Waqas from the police torture, but they were pushed back and warned not to intervene in the beating.”

His two cousins had returned to the house to tell his father what had happened when the policemen arrived and told them to check on Waqas Masih, saying he was “feigning illness,” Emmanuel Saleem said.

“We immediately rushed toward Waqas and saw him lying on the street, motionless,” he said, adding that he had already died by the time they arrived.

Waqas Masih worked as an assistant gardener at a government-run, rural health center. Asked why he had run from the house, Emmanuel Saleem said police often target poor Christians for extortion and file fake charges against them when they don’t have anything to pay. He said this was not the first time local police had illegally entered a home and beat Christians.

“Waqas was a very honest and hard-working young man who had no criminal history,” he said. “I guess he got frightened after the policemen threatened to implicate the cousins in fake cases.”

He confirmed that officials were pressuring the family to “pardon” the accused and give statements in their favor.

“We have even been offered money, besides threats to withdraw the FIR [First Information Report], but we have decided to hold our ground,” he said.

Police Denial

Gujrat District Police Officer (DPO) Jehanzeb Nazeer, however, denied that the accused officers were pressuring the family.

“I immediately ordered the registration of the FIR, and the three accused officials were taken into custody within 72 hours of the incident,” he said, but he added that the officers have not been formally charged with murder as the initial post-mortem report did not reveal the cause of death.

“The initial post-mortem report does not state any injury marks on the deceased’s body or the cause of death, therefore we are now waiting for a full report from the Punjab Forensic Science Agency [PFSA] before reaching a final conclusion about the incident,” he said.

Initial investigation showed the three officers raided the house on a tip that drug peddlers were present, he said.

“Waqas fled when the officials sought to frisk him, resulting in a chase,” he said. “The boy reportedly fell on the road, and one constable claims that he only kicked him twice in anger. The boy died on the spot, and the officials fled the scene.”

When asked if the deceased had any criminal record, the police chief said that they had not found any case registered against him.

Nazeer denied that the three accused officers extorted money from citizens.

“Since the matter involves a minority community, I took immediate action so that no one tries to exploit the situation for their ulterior motives,” he said. “Action will be taken in accordance with the law if the PFSA report points to police high-handedness.”

The three officders were taken into custody so that they could not influence the investigation or fabricate evidence against the victim, he added.

Pakistan is ranked fifth on Open Doors’ 2018 Word Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.

Advertisements

Pakistan: Christians told they can’t have a church in Muslim-majority village

The church in Nayya Sarabah (Chak 336) village was built in 2012 (World Watch Monitor)

Christians in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab province have been told to remove every visible sign of Christianity from their church, six months after being forced to sign a form pledging they would no longer hold services, reports World Watch Monitor.

The 40 Christian families in Nayya Sarabah (Chak 336) village, part of Toba Tek Singh district near Faisalabad, haven’t held a service since before Christmas.

Muslim resident Hajji Muhammad Siddique told World Watch Monitor that, as “Muslims are in the majority in the village, we can’t allow a church here”.

“Now we are working with the civil administration to give a piece of land to Christians outside the village,” said Siddique, 73, who runs a dispensary. “When it is done, we will make the Christians write an agreement that they will sell this current church building or at least dismantle the church structure and crosses.”

“Most of the Christians of the village work as brick-kiln labourers,” he added. “It is only Rafaqat Masih, who, being a retired army personnel, is trying to be a leader and has helped build a church in the village.”

The church is run by Pastor Samuel Masih, but it is Rafaqat Masih, a union councillor for minorities, who has been at the forefront of efforts to resolve the matter.

“Muslims are in the majority in the village, so we can’t allow a church here.”

Most of the Christians are poor labourers. The church belongs to Full Gospel Assemblies, an evangelical group working in Pakistan, and was built on land belonging to 70-year-old Christian named Rafiq Masih.

“Rafiq is childless, so he bequeathed this property for the construction of a church building,” Rafaqat Masih told World Watch Monitor. “The construction began in 2012 and we had been holding worship services since then. But in December 2016 the local Muslims objected over it and filed an application against us in the local police station. At that time, a compromise was reached and we again started holding services. But, again, in December 2017, they submitted an application in the police station, after which we were called in and were told to sign an agreement.”

The police station in the nearby town of Rajana brought together Muslims and Christians of the village on 14 December 2017, and had them sign an agreement according to which the Christians would “hold religious ceremonies in their houses. There will be no programme in the church. If anyone will violate this agreement, then legal action will be taken. [Christians] will not gather in any house for a religious programme. If there will be any violation of this, legal action will be taken”.

That same month, the Muslims submitted an application to close down the church, and the local police and civil administration told the Christians that, as their church was not included on the official list of churches that must be provided with security on Sundays, they could no longer hold services.

(Due to the rise of terrorism, all gatherings in Pakistan are provided police security. Churches are provided security on Sunday or any other given day that Christians request police protection. However, in this case, the police told them that the church is not part of the authorised list of churches, so they cannot be provided security. Now, because security cannot be provided, they cannot come together. So in the name of security, they stopped the Christians from gathering in the church, and also from worshipping in any house.)

The Christians in the village have therefore not held a service this year, but have made frequent visits to the civil administration to either permit them to hold services in their church or to provide them with an alternative venue.

‘We are being forced to demolish the church’

Christian and Muslim villagers were called together for another meeting on Saturday, 2 June, held in the presence of Deputy Superintendent of Police Muhammad Tahir.

After the meeting, Rafaqat Masih told World Watch Monitor: “We are being forced to demolish the existing church structure and, in lieu of this, they would let us build a church on a piece of government land outside the village which is already dedicated for a school.

“They haven’t even given any documentary proof that this piece of land would be transferred to Christians. Then another issue is that we worked for several years to construct this church building. Now who is going to pay for building from scratch?”

Masih, who runs a small shop in the village, told World Watch Monitor that he had submitted an application to the Toba Tek Singh Deputy Commissioner for including the name of the church in the list of the churches which are provided security.

“The civil administration tells us that they cannot provide us security, so it is in our benefit that they have stopped us from holding a church service,” he said.

On 22 February, the Toba Tek Singh Deputy Commissioner wrote a letter to the district police chief, a copy of which World Watch Monitor has seen, saying: “Priest (sic) Samual (sic) and others of Chak No. 336/GB (Nia Saraba) Tehsil and District Toba Tek Singh has informed the [respectable] Deputy Commissioner that they have established a church in said village and the police has not permitted them to offer their prayers… I have been directed by the [respectable] Deputy Commissioner to convey you that the tension between both the parties/communities may cause an untoward situation. In view of the sensitivity of the issue, you are requested to please look into the matter at personal level and resolve the issue, to avoid any law and order situation, which may result in disturbing the peace and tranquillity of society.”

Deputy Superintendent Muhammad Tahir told World Watch Monitor that the Christians being forced to pledge to end services was not legal. “We are trying to amicably resolve this matter,” he said.

Rasheed Jalal, a member of the district council belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said the Christians were “not being treated equally”.

He said he had met with several senior government figures, including the Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minority Affairs, National Assembly members and Muslim clerics, but that “nothing worked”.

“Christians are peace-loving people,” said Full Gospel Assemblies Principal Dr. Liaquat M. Qaiser. “We don’t desire any conflict. If the local Muslims do not want Christians worshipping among them, then they should provide them an alternative place. They are poor people and do not have resources to buy another place and build a church once again.”

According to the Pakistan’s constitution, a person’s security is the responsibility of the state. The constitution also provides special protections for religious minorities in religious, social and economic matters. However, contrary to these constitutional protections, churches are often forced to provide for their own security, which is primarily the responsibility of the state.

Pakistani Christian youth being arrested without cause

Voice of the Persecuted Asian correspondent – Since March 2018, the Christian area of Youhanabad in Karachi city, Pakistan has been raided 3 times by secret agencies who arrested 24 young Christian males. The first raid was conducted on March 30 in which four people were arrested,  followed by another raid on April 15th with six people arrested. 14 more were taken into custody during the latest raid on May 8th. Each time, the raids were conducted between 2 – 5am when people are sleeping in the comfort of their homes.

Most of those arrested were educated males as young as 15 years old. Christians in the area shared horrific accounts where secret agents forcefully entered their homes by climbing over the walls or cutting through the locks. The agents verbally abused the women, while the young men were lined up in the street to be identified by a local named ‘Shiraz’. Apparently Shiraz had an inclination towards criminal activities and was arrested for those activities prior to the the raids. Some claim Shiraz had been asked to identify and falsely accuse the young Christian men with possession of arms and robberies.

Khurram Shahzad, a dental technician, was arrested on May 8. His wife told the press that when her husband tried to ask the grounds of his arrest, they beat and dragged him out. Witnesses claim a police mini truck with no license plate on the vehicle was used in the raid.

Akash Younus, a 15 yr. old Christian boy, was arrested on April 15, but it’s suspicious that the FIR (first incident report) was registered on April 20th. He said he had been taken to a secret location and subjected to brutal torture during his detention. He claimed that he was beaten with clubs and electrocuted as they tried to force him to admit to false charges of burglary and the possession of illegal weapons. 3 days later, he was released on bail.

Imran Robin, also a 15 yr. old, was arrested along with his elder brother, Kashif Imran, who is a 10th grade student going through board exams when he was arrested. It is believed all those arrested were likely being forced to admit to the false charges.

UCA News reported that Christian residents of Youhanabad held a protest outside St. John’s Church in Karachi against police raids on May 15. A lawyer has been hired and a report filed to contest the police claims.

Fearing more raids, parents of the Youhanabad Christian community stopped sending their children to school, or moved their youth elsewhere to protect them.

There are approximately 70,000 missing people in Pakistan, according to Defence for Human Rights Pakistan. ‘There are no formal applications against the missing persons thus forcefully disappeared.’ Source Wikipedia.

Please continue to pray for Pakistani Christians as the state continues to use gruesome tactics to subdue the community.

Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) is on the ground in Thailand offering relief for Pakistani asylum seeker families. We’ve also initiated support for brothers and sisters suffering inside the Immigration Detention Center (IDC). We intend to send in more food, hygiene products and the much-needed sundry items not offered to them by the detention centre. Donations, whether large or small, aid in our ability to carry out this mission which is highly appreciated by our persecuted family. Go with us to Thailand sharing your blessings with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. God bless you and your families.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Candlelight vigil held for Christians killed in Quetta

On May 5, Saturday a candlelight vigil was held for the Christians who fell prey to terrorism in Quetta. This vigil was organized by ARZ Foundation, in collaboration with several Christians. On this occasion, prayers were offered for Christians who were killed in Quetta. At the same time, prayers were offered for persecuted Pakistani Christians, reports Christians in Pakistan.

RZ Foundation strongly condemned attacks on Christians in Quetta. In the month of April six Christians lost their lives in terror attacks. Incidents of persecution of Christians reported from Sialkot, Lahore, Karachi and Sahiwal were also condemned. Congregants offered prayers for the families of the victims.

Those attending this vigil lit candles in the memory of the victims and expressed sympathies with their families. Addressing the assembly, Nafees Bhatti director of ARZ Foundation, Advocate Sooba Bhatti, Mrs. Rukhsana Sooba, Rashid Pervaiz, , Bashir Nawab, Munawer Rajput, Barkat Bernard and Mrs. Saleema termed these recent attacks on Pakistani Christians as an attempt to create hatred and discord on religious grounds.

All of them demanded that in the wake of attacks on Pakistani Christians government must ensure special security measures for churches and Christians. They said that in keeping with the orders issued by the Supreme Court back in 2014. The participants said the government must take steps to implement the apex court’s ruling regarding the religious minorities. They chanted slogans against terrorists; towards the end of the ceremony they appreciated the efforts of ARZ Foundation.

On April 15, Sunday when the worshipers from Seventh – day Adventist church were going back to their homes, unidentified gunmen on motorbikes opened fire at a group of Christian worshipers outside the church. A local police official told AFP that “Four men on two motorbikes opened indiscriminate fire, killing two people while injuring three others”. The deceased included Rahib Khalid and Azhar Iqbal who were rushed to the hospital but succumbed to their injuries.

Earlier on April 2, a day after Easter four Christians; all members of same family were gunned down by terrorists in Quetta’s Shah Zaman Road. The victims included a woman, died on the spot. Police confirmed that unidentified attackers were riding motorbikes, and opened indiscriminate fire on the four outside their house.

Please remember them in your prayers.

Killing Spree: Deadly Month for Christians in Pakistan

 

Voice of the Persecuted Asian correspondent update report—Pakistan is the fifth most difficult country to live as a Christian, yet millions thrive and worship their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. April has been a brutal month for Pakistani Christians. ISIS has been on spree of kill and run incidents in Quetta where Christians have been targeted and killed for their faith.

ISIS killings in Quetta

In the beginning of April, four Christians were targeted in the Pakistani city of Quetta, provincial capital of Balochistan province in Western Pakistan. Two men on motorcycle fired at a rickshaw carrying four family members. Three members of the family and the rickshaw driver were instantly killed but a child survived the attack and was quickly rushed to the hospital. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

While the community was still in shock, ISIS struck again on April 15th, 2018. Four men on motorcycles fired and killed two men in the neighborhood of Essa Nagri in Quetta. Three including two girls were injured and taken to the hospital.Asm Yaqoob, a 25 year old from Sialkot, was attacked on 17th April, 2018. Her Muslim suitor, Rizwan Gujjar wanted her to convert to Islam and marry him. Upon constant refusals, Rizwan Gujjar attacked her on April 17th throwing acid and dousing her in petrol and setting her alight. She was moved to Lahore’s Mayo Hospital with third degree burns which affected 90% of her body. After fighting for her life for over a week, she succumbed to her injuries on Monday, April 23rd. Her family not only suffers the heartbreak of her death, but now find themselves in financial hardship. Asm was the only bread winner in the family of 10.2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the food fight, I have finished the race, I have kept my faith. ”

Asma indeed lived according to this verse and kept her faith till the end.

Asma isn’t the only victim to this brutality. Every year about 700 Christian girls are kidnapped, raped and forcefully converted to Islam and unwillingly married to Muslim men.

Violence against women and girls—including rape, murder through so-called honor killings, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage—remained routine. Pakistani human rights NGOs estimate that there are about 1,000 “honor killings” every year” —Human Rights Watch, 2017 report

Despite the reports, UNHCR continues to reject Pakistani Christians asylum seekers at an unprecedented rate stating that it’s safe for them to return in Pakistan. In the month of April, over 20 Pakistani Christian families have been refused and their files closed by the UNHCR in Thailand. It’s appalling that the UN believes their safety isn’t a concern in Pakistan.

May God open their eyes and give them passion to understand the plight of His people.

VOP is on the ground in Thailand. Please Join hands with us to spread the love of Jesus. Keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the needed funds for the relief mission. If you feel led to help, please consider our mission and donate, today. Go with us to Thailand through your blessings to share with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered enormously. God bless you and your families.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

Please pray for Pakistani Christians

Pastor suspects arson in Pakistan church fire

 

 

 

UCN News shared with Voice of the Persecuted a report of a mysterious fire that damaged a Protestant church in a Pakistani town rocked by blasphemy protests two months ago.

Gospel of Jesus Mission Church is in a narrow street of a Christian basti (slum) in Shahdara town near Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.

The remains of burnt holy books, an offering bag and a chimta (music tongs) lay near the half-melted pulpit of the building, which has been under construction for more than three years.

Pastor Yousaf Aziz John filed a police complaint on April 15 at Shahdara police station, where a peace agreement between local clerics and Christian leaders was signed on Feb. 21 after an angry mob protested against Patras Masih, 18, who allegedly shared an anti-Islam photo on Facebook.

“We are a poor community and had been building the House of God with donations. We strongly believe that unknown miscreants have committed this evil. The losses amount to about 50,000 rupees (US$430). We demand an immediate remedy for the wounds of the whole Christian community,” Pastor John told ucanews.com.

Police sub-inspector Rana Amir visited the site on April 16 and recorded statements from the community.

“The forensics department collected samples the same night. A report will be released this week revealing the cause of the fire. A security plan has been chalked for the 14 churches of Shahdara registered with the police station, but no forces are appointed for unregistered ones,” he said.

Churches not registered with the Auqaf Department, which supervises important religious monuments and holy places, are deemed illegal by the government. In January, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province closed but later reopened six home-based churches in Abbottabad.

Police have warned that they will not take any responsibility for any mishaps at prayer gatherings in residential areas. Home-based churches are common in Christian ghettos and their surroundings. Youhanabad, the largest Christian settlement in Pakistan, has more than 100 unregistered churches usually comprising a single room or a hall.

Khalid Shahzad, a Catholic activist based in Shahdara, slammed police for filing the Shahdara case as an accidental fire.

“Only the sections regarding vandalism and loss of property have been nominated in the first information police report. They deliberately skipped the blasphemy clause 295 which deals with acts intended to insult religion or religious beliefs of others. This loophole will help in bail for the accused if arrested,” he said.

“The community was already living in fear after the recent blasphemy case in an adjoining village.” Read more

 

2 dead, others injured in attack on Christian community near church in Quetta

Blood on the ground following an attack at a church in Quetta, Pakistan

Pakistan: We received information that two members of the Christian community were killed and between 5 to 9 others injured in a shooting incident near a church in Quetta. The incident occurred when worshipers were leaving the Sunday service at a church in Essa Nagri area of the provincial capital, DawnNews reported.

In a drive-by shooting, gunmen opened fire on the members of the Christian community and managed to flee the scene. Victims were rushed to a Quetta medical center, but two of the worshipers succumbed to their injuries. Screams and wailing was heard as the two bodies were brought in covered with white sheets at the Hospital.

A day after Easter Sunday, four members of a Christian family were also killed by gunmen while travelling on Quetta’s Shah Zaman road to celebrate with relatives. Later, the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. Officials confirmed the Christians were targeted for their faith.

In December, nine people were killed and 30 injured when  suicide bombers attacked the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church on Quetta’s Zarghoon Road. At least two suicide attackers had struck the Bethel Memorial Church while Sunday service was ongoing. There were 400 worshipers inside the church when the assault started. The Islamic State also claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Islamic State (ISIS) has created a branch in Pakistan and Afghanistan by recruiting established militants.

Pakistan is experiencing a continuing rise of aggression and violent persecution against the Pakistani Christian community. The latest incident is the second attack deadly on Christians in the area, this month. Please pray believers in Pakistan.

VOP is on the ground in Thailand helping Christian asylum seekers who’ve fled persecution in Pakistan. Please Join hands with us to spread the love of Jesus. Keep us in your prayers as we try to raise the needed funds for the relief mission. If you feel led to help, please consider our mission and donate, today. Go with us to Thailand through your blessings  to share with these dear brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. God bless you and your families.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

4 Christians killed for faith by Islamists in Pakistan

(Voice of the Persecuted) A day after Easter Sunday, four Pakistani Christians were killed when attackers opened fire on the rickshaw they were riding on Monday evening in the city of Quetta in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. Three of the victims were family members who were traveling to visit relatives to celebrate the Easter holiday. The driver was also a Christian. Soon after the attack, their bodies were transferred to Civil Hospital Quetta.

Dawn News reported that, Police official Muhammad Anwar Khokhar said unidentified attackers riding a motorbike opened fire on a rickshaw which resulted in the death of four members of the Christian community. A minor girl was also injured in the attack, he added.

Another report shared Provincial Police Chief Moazzam Jah Ansari as saying, “All four died on the spot while a woman was injured and rushed to a hospital.” He added that her father and three cousins were killed in the firing.

Officials confirmed the Christians were targeted for their faith.

In a statement released today by its Aamaq news agency, the Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack on the Christians.

The Baluchistan region is afflicted by violence of Sunni Islamist groups associated with the Taliban, al Qaeda and Islamic State. Islamic State has branches in both Afghanistan and Pakistan through Islamist militant groups who support their radical sectarian views.

Please pray for Christians experiencing continued persecution in Pakistan.

 

%d bloggers like this: