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LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A court in Lahore has handed the death sentence to five Muslims for torturing and killing an impoverished Christian couple over allegations of burning the Koran, sources said.
Eight others charged in the attack were sentenced to two years in prison, sources said. Hundreds of villagers in Kot Radha Kishan, incited by Muslim leaders calling for violence via mosque loudspeakers, were involved in the Nov. 4, 2014 assault in which 26-year-old Shahzad Masih and his five-months pregnant wife, Shama, 24, were thrown into a burning brick kiln. [Read VOP Nov. 6 2014 report condemning the horrific attack]
Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Chaudhry Azam on Wednesday (Nov. 25) handed death sentences to Irfan Shakoor, Muhammad Hanif, Mehdi Khan, Riaz Kamboh and Hafiz Ishtiaq, along with a fine of 200,000 rupees (US$1,900) to each for inciting violence against the Christian couple and throwing them into the kiln. The judge ordered the two-year prison terms for Noorul Hasan, Muhammad Arsalan, Muhammad Haris, Hussain, Muhammad Munir, Muhammad Ramzan, Irfan and Hafiz Shahid.
Attorney Riaz Anjum, who represented the father of the deceased woman, told Morning Star News that although more than 50 people had been originally charged in the lynching, most of them had been acquitted after family members of Shahzad Masih recorded statements denying that they were present at the scene.
“Nonetheless, it is encouraging news for the Christian community in Pakistan,” Anjum said. “The families of the deceased people have suffered a lot of pressure, even though the state had become the complainant in the case to thwart any attempt to pressure the victims’ family for reaching a settlement with the powerful accused. But conviction of five people by the court is no small feat, and I hope this verdict would be seen as a stern warning against any such violence against minorities in the future.”
Masih and his wife worked as bonded laborers at the brick kiln when the throng descended on them after area Muslims accused them of committing blasphemy by burning Quranic pages.
The mob tore the clothes off them, struck them, broke their legs, dragged them behind a tractor and threw them into the burning furnace of a brick kiln – even though Shama was illiterate and could not have known even if koranic verses were among debris that she had burned. Under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy statutes, intent must be shown for a conviction of desecrating the Koran.
On Nov. 2, 2014 Shama Masih was cleaning her quarters in Chak 59 village near Kot Radha Kishan, Karur District, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Lahore, when she found amulets of her late father-in-law, who had used them in the practice of black magic. The amulets may have contained koranic verses, and a Muslim co-worker, Muhammad Irfan, noticed half-burnt papers and accused the family of desecrating the Koran, relatives said.
The couple is survived by their four children.
Attorney Anjum said that the convicts would now surely file appeals with the high court against their sentences, “but I am confident that the high court will uphold the trial court’s verdict.”
Commenting on the bail given to the lead suspect in the case, Yousuf Gujjar, Anjum said the brick kiln owner had managed to secure bail from the court after Shahzad Masih’s family members testified that he was not present at the kiln when the mob killed the Christian couple.
In addition, state’s witnesses, including police official Muhammad Ali, who had witnessed the entire crime and had named Gujjar as the main inciter of violence in the First Information Report (FIR), retracted their statements against the kiln owner when the trial began,sources said.
Punjab Province Minister for Human Rights Khalil Tahir Sindhu has stated that police found Gujjar and his son had instigated a local Muslim prayer leader to declare the couple guilty of blasphemy from the loudspeaker of his mosque. Morning Star News made repeated attempts to contact Sindhu to enquire why the police witnesses had retracted their original statements and whether the government had initiated an inquiry, but he remained inaccessible by phone.
Aneeqa Maria, an attorney with The Voice Society, which provided legal support to the deceased woman’s family, said 52 people had been named in the original FIR, while names of 88 others were included later after investigation.
“Shahzad and Shama could have lived that day if Yousuf Gujjar had allowed them to leave the kiln before violence began,” she said. “He told the couple they could not leave until they had paid back their loan, and thus he is equally responsible for their deaths.”
Still, Christian rights activists and socio-political workers lauded the court’s verdict. Prominent minority rights activist and chairman of the Pakistan Interfaith League (PIL) Sajid Ishaq said it was a difficult but just decision.
“Awarding death sentences to five persons and jail term of two years each to eight others is a big reassurance to the minority communities of Pakistan,” Ishaq told Morning Star News. “Today, the minority communities feel protected, and their confidence in the judiciary has gained a great deal of strength.”
On Nov. 3, 2014, Muslim neighbors of the couple accused Shama Masih of burning pages of Islam’s holy book, stoking religious tension in the area. Although police were informed about a possible attack on the Christian families resident at the kiln, the police only sent a mobile squad of five officers to monitor the situation.
Early the next day, a mob of several hundred Muslims gathered at the kiln after announcements were made overnight on village mosque loudspeakers calling for “death to the blasphemers.”
Shahzad Masih and his brothers pleaded with Gujjar to let them escape, but he refused to let them go until they paid their debt, sources said. Soon afterwards, the mob got hold of the Christian couple and subjected them to torture, beating them near death and later throwing their bodies, still believed to be alive, into the flames.
The incident caused an outrage in national and international media and civil society, prompting the Pakistani government to take the unprecedented step of becoming the complainant in the case. But sources have said the state later lost interest, allowing several of those directly involved to walk away free by manipulating gaps in the Pakistani legal system.
Voice of the Persecuted is helping to rescue from suffering by supporting Christians fleeing persecution in Pakistan We cannot continue the work without your generous support. Help us reach life saving goals by partnering with us in the mission.
Recommended: Read a Persecuted Christian’s message to the West for a true account of the reality of life for Christians in Pakistan HERE.
(Agenzia Fides) – “It is a step towards justice. We hope that justice is done in a case that shocked the Christian community in Pakistan”: is how father Waseem Walter, Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Pakistan, commented to Fides the news that an anti-terrorism court has officially indicted 106 people for the murder of a Christian couple, Shahzad and Shama Masih, lynched and burned alive after being accused of blasphemy in November 2014 in the city of Kot Radha Kishan, in Punjab.
They had four children and Shama was pregnant. They were segregated, beaten and burned in a brick oven by a Muslim mob who accused them of having burned pages of the Koran. The incident provoked international outrage.
According to the reconstruction based on some evidence obtained by the court, three religious leaders of local mosques are accused of inciting a mob of about 400 Muslims who lynched the couple, after having found some burned pages of the Koran in the vicinity of their home. The crowd asked Masih and his wife to convert to Islam. The two refused. They were seized, locked up for a night and were then killed by the crowd.
The 106 people charged yesterday were conducted before the court of Lahore. It is believed that 32 other suspects are still at large. The court confirmed the indictment for the murder. Not all pleaded guilty. According to police, in addition to the three imam Mohammad Hussain, Arshad Baloch and Noorul Hassan, also Yousaf Gujjar, the owner of the brick kiln, incited the crowd.
As Fides learns, Christian lawyers believe this process is a key step to show that justice in Pakistan is the same for everyone and does not discriminate when the victims belong to religious minorities. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 22/05/2015)
(Voice of the Persecuted) As it seems the world leaders have united in the fight against ideologies that breed terror and persecution, while the long list of countries go virtually unchecked for their Human Rights abuses and the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. Pakistan is on this list, though it has not gone un-noticed by all in the world. Watchdog groups are again reporting on the practices of singling out the poor, the uneducated, the religious minorities, women and children.
As we modernize everything including our customs, times and laws, Pakistan’s draconian laws such as the ‘Blasphemy’ law, and the bonded labor program beg for attention from the ‘modern’ world at large. The West claims, we are global citizens that pride ourselves in modernity, freedom, and peace. But the last year alone, is far from anything resembling global freedom from oppression and peace.
Christian Publications are reporting on the December attack on 13 Christian families in Pakistan whose homes were destroyed by a local government in Punjab Province. These families were attacked because they refused to work in Pakistan’s bonded labor program in the Brick Kilns.
Last year, many in the world became aware of the Brick Kilns when a mob attacked bonded Christian workers, the wife falsely accused of blasphemy and burned them alive in the very Kiln they attended.
The man and his pregnant wife was severely beaten, their legs broken so they could not run, stripped naked and thrown into the fire of a kiln oven. The crazed mob then stood and watched them die. The couple was part of the bonded labor program. The world was shocked, and cried out for justice, but justice has not come leaving many at risk of the same violence.
Brick-kilns, which are located on the outskirts of most major cities and towns in Pakistan, operate almost exclusively on the basis of debt-bondage.
Photos of Brick Kiln where attack took place below
In December, after the November attacks of the Christian couple, a local government authority destroyed the homes of 13 Christian families because they refused to participate in this barbaric and draconian practice.
The ‘bonded labor program is said to be illegal in Pakistan, but it is ignored and thriving. Many are used for human trafficking such as prostitution, forced marriage, servitude and hard labor in agriculture or the brick kilns. A large number of the women and girls are continually raped by their employers, who see them as property to do to with them as they please. A stark contrast to Western ideals.
In Pakistani employers thriving on bonded labor, believe they own their workers, buying, selling, even trading them. They seek out the poorest, many uneducated and offered their children a bright future. A future that will provide them with wealth and prosperity if they will only sign their children over to them. And a brutal life of servitude and abuse begins. Underpaid and unable to support themselves, their debt to employers accumulates. These debts never get paid off due to the large interest or being falsely accused by the employer of owing more than agreed. Families are enslaved with responsiblity to cover their parents debt when they die. The vicious cycle repeating from generation to generation.
As you see in the video above, they propose a safe and prosperous alternative for widows. And monumentally, no one seems to care because they are poor, uneducated and homeless. At least that’s how it’s justified in this ‘civilized’ world.
What we know about Pakistan’s bonded labor program:
- Also called Debt bondage (debt slavery or bonded labor) is a person’s pledge of their labor or services as security for the repayment for a debt or other obligation.
- Debt bondage has been described by the United Nations as a form of “modern day slavery”
- Debt bondage was “quite normal” in classical antiquity.
- Debt bondage can be passed from generation to generation. which is common in Pakistan
- As early as 1926 the United Nations recognized this in various articles and banned debt or bonded slavery, as well as serfdom, child marriage, servile marriage, and child servitude. In 1956 articles were put in place to make these practices illegal and there were 35 signatories and 123 Parties. India and Pakistan both agreed to these articles, but sadly the practice of slavery freely continues in both countries. The Articles are as follows:
- The parties commit to abolish and abandon debt bondage, serfdom, servile marriage and child servitude.
- The parties commit to enacting minimum ages of marriage, encouraging registration of marriages, and encouraging the public declaration of consent to marriage.
- Criminalisation of slave trafficking.
- Runaway slaves who take refuge on flag vessels of parties shall thereby ipso facto attain their freedom.
- Criminalisation of the marking (including mutilation and branding) of slaves and servile persons.
- Criminalisation of enslavement and giving others into slavery.
- Definitions of ‘slave’, “a person of servile status” and “slave trade”
9. No reservations may be made to this Convention.
12. This Convention shall apply to all non-self-governing-trust, colonial and other non-metropolitan territories to the international relations of which any State Party is responsible.
The World spoke and made provisions for a barbaric practice to be abolished, yet still practiced throughout the world, including the Middle East under the guise of a religious law, as we see the IS claiming in Iraq, today. Many are unaware slavery is ongoing and a robust industry, such as in nations like Saudi Arabia.
The US began providing assistance to Pakistan in 1947 and it continues to this day. It has grown to at least 1.6 Billion a year. Only coming into question in the years after 9/11 when Osama Bin Laden was thought to be hiding in the country As Fox news reported, some in our government consider them invaluable in counter-terrorism, and see them as only taking US money while helping our enemies. Do they turn their eyes away from these human rights abuses? It is said that money to Pakistan helps open schools and agriculture grow. But if this is the case, we must ask, why are theses laborers, human beings treated in this manner?
Asia Bibi has sat in a cell for 5 years charged with blasphemy. Her crime was being thirsty and taking a drink of water from a Muslim well, defiling it because she was a Christian. Asia maintains she was falsely accused and innocent of the blasphemy charge. Asia’s persecution case has been highlighted to the international community, with many condemning the sentence and calling for her release.
The Blasphemy Law in Pakistan is just as brutal and barbaric as the Bonded labor. There have been many killed, imprisoned, or fleeing the country to avoid persecution via this law.
Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law:
- The Pakistani penal code actually prohibits blasphemy against any religion. However it’s used against Christians and other minorities. Since 1987 approximately 1300 people have been charged with this law, the majority for desecrating the Koran.
- Over 50 people accused of blasphemy have been murdered before their respective trials were over and prominent figures who opposed blasphemy laws (Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minorities and Salman Taseer, the former governor of Punjab) have been assassinated. Taseer’s killer said, the former governor deserved his fate, because he had the audacity to show sympathy for Asia Bibi. Not only had Taseer called for Bibi’s pardon, he criticised as a “black law” the criminal code that saw her convicted in the first place. Since 1990, 62 people have been murdered as a result of blasphemy allegations.
- Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death and is awaiting an appeal. If she is not granted a successful appeal she will be the first woman to be hanged in Pakistan. The courts have repeatedly postponed the appeal hearing.
- In early 2013, After hearing accusations that a Christian man committed blasphemy against Islam’s prophet, over 3,000 Muslim protesters turned violent after Friday prayers destroying an entire Christian neighborhood that was burned to the ground.
- Pakistan’s laws became particularly severe between 1980 and 1986, when a number of clauses were added to the laws by the military government of General Zia-ul Haq, to “Islamicise” the laws and deny the Muslim character of the Ahmadi minority. Prior to 1986, only 14 cases pertaining to blasphemy were reported.
- Pakistans Blasphemy laws are the strictest of the Islamic Nations.
- In addition to derogatory remarks about the Prophet, uttering of any word, making any sound or gesture, placing of any object in the sight with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, is also considered blasphemy.
Pakistan’s own constitution actually calls for religious freedom. Ironic, isn’t it? As with other jihadist groups, Pakistan’s Taliban has united with ISIS. ISIS is garnering more and more support. Recently, the world reeled at the news of a school massacre when the Taliban attacked the institution where those in the Pakistani military sent their children. Many little ones were killed. The Government has responded to this attack and executed about 100 of those responsible.
Protests in the streets are taking place in support of the terrorists who carried out the massacre in Paris. The student wing of the Jaamat-e-Islami party is responsible for the protests after Friday prayers in Karachi. The police had to use tear gas, to hold them back from storming the French Consolate. Three were wounded.
It’s also worthy of noting that Pakistan is one of the world ‘s countries that have nuclear weapons. If the Pakistan Government should ever fail, the implications of the Taliban or ISIS taking over is bone chilling.
Pray with Us for these precious soul’s in Pakistan, and let them know they are not forgotten.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you have greatly blessed others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
Rome (Agenzia Fides) – To propose a motion on religious freedom in Pakistan to Italian politicians, to be approved in Parliament; to invite the international community and the Italian government – especially during the six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union – to ask Pakistan to defend and protect religious minorities: are the goals of the Association of Pakistani Christians in Italy who on December 2 at 11,30 am will hold a conference in Palazzo Montecitorio, seat of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament. The conference takes its cue from the severe episode regarding Shama and Shahzad Masih, a Christian married couple burned alive in a brick-kiln on November 4, and intends to discuss the anti-blasphemy law but also of the slavery of Christians in the brick-kilns, a widespread phenomenon in Pakistan. The conference involves several Italian MPs and prof. Shahid Mobeen, founder of the Association of Pakistani Christians in Italy.
“The tragic murder of the couple is yet another case of extrajudicial killings linked to accusations of blasphemy”, says the note sent to Fides, “and is used in particular to target religious minorities”. “The episdode – concludes the text – also highlights the tragic fate of brick kiln workers in Pakistan. Entire families are enslaved to repay debts to factory owners and forced to work in inhuman conditions. It is estimated that between three and eight million Pakistanis are victims of this present-day form of slavery”. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 29/11/2014)
LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – Police in Pakistan say a Christian couple tortured and slain this month over accusations that the wife desecrated the Koran were innocent, while relatives said politicians are trying to shield the killers from justice.
Urged to act from mosque loudspeakers, a frenzied mob on Nov. 4 tore the clothes off Shama and Shahzad Masih, struck them, broke their legs, dragged them behind a tractor and threw them into the burning furnace of a brick kiln – even though Shama was illiterate and could not have known even if koranic verses were among debris that she had burned.
Kasur District Police Capt. Jawad Qamar told Morning Star News that police had confirmed that Shama Masih was illiterate and had no idea of the contents of pages that she had burned.
“She was not guilty of blasphemy,” he said.
On Nov. 2 Shama Masih was cleaning her quarters in Chak 59 village near Kot Radha Kishan, Karur District, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of Lahore, when she found amulets of her late father-in-law, who had used them in the practice of black magic. The amulets may have contained koranic verses, and a Muslim co-worker, Muhammad Irfan, noticed the half-burnt papers andaccused the family of desecrating the Koran, relatives said.
Under Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy statutes, intent must be shown for a conviction of desecrating the Koran.
At a press conference in Islamabad on Monday (Nov. 16), family members said Islamists have offered them land and money as compensation for the murders in an attempt to stop them from prosecuting.
While police have reportedly arrested at least 50 of those named in a First Information Report (FIR), relatives of the couple said that influential Muslims of the area, including a Punjab Province lawmaker, were issuing threats in an attempt to force them to reach an agreement with the killers. Shahzad Masih’s brother, Shahbaz Masih, and his wife Parveen Masih demanded that the government provide them with protection, saying they had already informed the Kasur District police officer of the threats.
They also demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the mob violence, adding that non-Muslim representatives should be included in the team.
“All we want is a fair investigation of the case,” said Shahbaz Masih, demanding that Justice Waheed Siddiqui, a retired Federal Shariat Court judge, be included in the judicial commission.
Among other demands, the deceased man’s family called for the commission and a Joint Investigation Team to make their reports publicly available immediately after completion. Masih also urged the Supreme Court to take suo moto notice and order an independent inquiry into the attack.
Lawmaker ‘Influencing Case’
The family’s concerns come amid reports that the provincial lawmaker of the area, Muhammad Anees Qureshi, was present at the crime scene when the throng of hundreds tortured and killed Shama Masih, 28 years old and five months pregnant, and 32-year-old Shahzad Masih. They are survived by four children, the oldest 7 years old.
Family sources said that Qureshi, a member of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government, was also making efforts to shield the primary suspect, Riaz Kamboh, from justice. Kamboh, a former municipal councillor, is also affiliated with the PML-N and holds considerable influence in the villages surrounding Chak 59 village. He is accused of throwing the couple into the furnace after pouring tractor diesel on their bodies.
“Qureshi arrived on the spot just when the lynchers had tortured the couple unconscious,” said a relative who asked to remain unnamed for security reasons. “They were not hurled into the furnace till then.”
The relative said Qureshi, a member of the Punjab Parliamentary Assembly, was trying to force the impoverished Christians into reaching an agreement in return for a large amount of money. Shahzad Masih was a bonded laborer who was working to repay a sum of money he had received, one of the reasons sources have said his employer locked him in an office at the kiln after a mob formed.
“Hordes and hordes of Muslims loaded on tractor trolleys arrived on the scene during his [Qureshi’s] presence, yet the lawmaker made no effort to rescue them,” the relative said.
Qureshi has requested the family not register a separate case against Kamboh, brick kiln owner Yousaf Gujjar and Imam Ghulam Hussain, among others, he said, adding that the demands were made through local administration and land revenue officials.
Qureshi denied that the couple was thrown into the furnace in his presence.
“Shama and Shahzad were already dead when I reached the spot,” the member of the Parliamentary Assembly said in his statement to police. “That’s why I couldn’t do anything for them.”
Morning Star News made repeated efforts to get Qureshi’s comment on accusations that he was influencing the relatives of Shahzad and Shama to reach an agreement with any of the murder suspects, but the lawmaker declined.
Punjab spokesman Zaeem Qadri told Morning Star News that the suspects would not be able to escape prosecution, because the state was the complainant in the case.
“This is why the government decided to become the complainant in this case, so that the accused are not able to coerce the poor families into reaching a compromise,” he said. “Pardoning the accused is not in the families’ hands now.”
Asked about the chances of convictions in the atrocity, especially when there is a precedent of all suspects in the Joseph Colony arson case last year walking free even when the state was the complainant in the case, the Punjab spokesman cut short the conversation, saying only, “This time it will be different.”
Qamar told Morning Star News that the area’s local police in-charge had sent a team to the site when he was informed of tensions, but that mobs were too large to be contained by just five men.
“It was Ashura [a Shia Muslim commemoration] day, and all district police was deployed on Shia procession routes and Shia places of worship for security, which is why it took time to gather a bigger contingent,” he said, adding that police were now trying their best to arrest all the remaining accused in the case.
Contrary to published reports, Qamar said police have arrested 43 of some 60 named suspects, of whom 39 were in jail, while four were to be produced in an anti-terrorism court today on completion of their police remand.
Tahir Ashrafi, a member of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), Pakistan’s top religious body, held police responsible for failing to act to protect the couple before the mob violence occurred.
“All culprits must be arrested and punished, including the cleric [who made the blasphemy accusation in a mosque] if he’s involved,” he said.
Rufus Solomon, a Christian politician from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said that it was a test case for the PML-N government, which has termed the allegation of blasphemy against Shama “false and baseless.”
“If the perpetrators of Gojra, Joseph Colony and the Rimsha Masih case had been punished, no one would have dared to mete out such barbarity on the poor Christian couple,” Solomon said.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Tuesday, 4 Nov. 2014, was very dark in Pakistan. Pakistani Christians reside in the face of constant danger, and today their hearts are breaking.
In the town of Kasur (Chak 59 village near Kot Radha Kishan) province of Punjab, Shahzad Masih(28) and his pregnant wife Shama(25) were brutally tortured, thrown into a brick kiln furnace and burned to death in an act of sheer barbarism by a vicious mob. The couple had three children, Shama was expecting their fourth child.
Their crime? Allegedly desecrating a copy of the Koran.
The couple worked in ‘bonded labor’ for Yousaf Gujjar at his brick kiln for the last 3-4 years and lived in quarters on the premises.
It’s reported that while cleaning their quarters, Shama came across some amulets from her deceased father-in-law who she said had practiced ‘black magic’. She burnt the amulets and threw them on a garbage heap. A Muslim co-worker noticed the burnt pieces of paper from the amulets and accused her of burning pages from the holy Quran.
The accusation spread quickly through Mosque loud speakers inciting the local Muslims rage. As tensions grew, their employer feared the couple would flee the area to save themselves from violence. There was a dispute over money owed to him from an apparent advance. Advancing cash to employees is illegal but a common practice in Pakistan. This detrimental practice forces them into bonded labor, which may take many years to pay back due to extremely high interest rates of these loans. They end up as virtual slaves of their employers in modern day slavery.
According to reports, he had the couple locked up in a room for a few days prior to the horrific attack. Unable to escape, they were drug from this room by the enraged mob that was led by a local cleric claiming they had desecrated the Koran.
Sharia law dictates this as blasphemy and carries a brutal death sentence. But this sentence was carried out without a trial, without mercy and without judges. The mob became judge, jury and executioner, while the couple screamed for mercy and denied all charges. It is said that they broke their legs so they could not run, brutally beat them, then threw them into the furnace fire. (More)
It appears that the police sided with the murderers. President Sharif has ordered a committee to investigate, but there are those who called for the UN to intervene.
Lahore (Agenzia Fides) – “We are shocked and worried. Christians in Pakistan are now wondering: what country do we live in? The horrible and barbaric execution of a Christian couple, accused of blasphemy, is an act that offends justice, human rights, human dignity, civilization, and is contrary to the rule of law. Today we will demonstrate for justice and human rights in Lahore. On the blasphemy law, we call for the UN to intervene”: this is what Fr. James Channan OP, a Dominican, Director of the “Peace Center” in Lahore, research center engaged in inter-religious dialogue said in an interview with Agenzia Fides, commenting on the murder of the Christian couple, burned alive in the district of Kasur in Punjab (see Fides 04/11/2014).
“I am convinced that the married couple did not commit blasphemy. And even if the accusation were verified, there are procedures to be followed. We cannot allow lynching or a mass execution to be carried out by those who believe they are above the law. This is a strong request to the government”, notes Fr. Channan. In fact, “for incidents of violence which occurred in the past (in Gojra, in Shantinagar and other places) none of the guilty were punished. Impunity fuels violence. We ask the Special Commission created by the Government of Punjab to submit a report immediately and to punish those involved in this barbaric act”, adds the priest.
Yesterday, to express their outrage and to demand justice and respect for the law, many Christian organizations and civil society groups that defend human rights, along with Muslim citizens, will gather in the street in Lahore. The Dominican concludes: “We will ask the UN to intervene. Careful and neutral analysis is needed with regards to the blasphemy law, its exploitation and its consequences. We call for a special UN commission to come to Pakistan. If this law is not stopped and corrected, there will be more accidents and tragedies like this”.
Recently, the area has seen numerous incidents of violence that have taken place between Christians and Muslims.
Those who have fled this horrendous law and torture are crying, heartbroken and shocked. A persecuted Pakistani Christian who was forced to take refuge in another country told Voice of the Persecuted, “I am crying, I want to go back and help, but I will be a target and killed.”
These precious brethren have been targeted for blasphemy, often under false charges. How can Pakistan’s Blasphemy law be considered anything but barbaric and medieval, in our modern day? How can this be allowed in a world that prides itself on freedom for all? Why does Pakistan continue to receive billions of dollars in aide from freedom loving, Western nations? Why are they not held accountable for the human rights abuses and atrocities? Where is the U.N? The heart of the world has gone cold and silent.
Three children have needlessly become orphans. Not only have they lost their parents, but their sibling. How do we explain this senseless act to them? How can we prevent the same violence from happening to them, or others in the future?
PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS NEED YOUR PRAYERS! And pressure must be put on Pakistan to protect all of it’s citizens, regardless of stature, ethnicity, or religion.
Voice of the Persecuted strongly condemns this shocking and tragic event.
We call on the Pakistani Government to bring each and every individual responsible for this deplorable act of violence to immediate justice.
We implore Islamic clerics who too often are found inciting such mob violence to publicly denounce these reprehensible attacks. And that the Pakistan government hold them accountable as accomplices when instigating these criminal acts of the violence now and in the future.
We ask that the nation of Pakistan develop programs to educate against prejudices and intolerance of Christians and other religious minorities. And to continue in advancing a Pakistan where all citizens may live in peace without fear.
To establish mandatory education of ALL Pakistani children (boys and girls). Illiteracy forces a large number of minorities into bonded labor making them easy targets for a life of discrimination, unspeakable abuses and death. Free them from this illegal practice! Many great minds have come from Pakistan. Please give all children the opportunity to make successful contributions to your society, to further enhance your country in the future.
We ask that the blasphemy law to be immediately repealed, which is continually misused to settle personal scores in which minorities are unfairly targeted.
We ask the international community to hold the government of Pakistan accountable, pressuring them to take and enforce firm action to deter and completely eliminate these types of attacks in the future.
To all nations, we ask that future aid and other relations with Pakistan be curtailed in the light of Pakistan’s steadfast refusal to grant Christians and other religious minorities basic human rights. Pakistan ought not receive any but the most urgent humanitarian aid until these totalitarian laws are repealed. And until true and lasting efforts are made by the government for real change in Pakistan.
We also call for the UN to immediately act and intervene.
Voice of the Persecuted is helping to rescue from suffering by supporting Christians fleeing persecution in Pakistan. We cannot continue the work without your generous support. Help us reach life saving goals by partnering with us in the mission.
Recommended: Read a Persecuted Christian’s message to the West for a true account of the reality of life for Christians in Pakistan HERE.
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