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PAKISTAN: Sunny Gill, a talented Pakistani Photo Journalist has often been highlighted by multiple media outlets. If you have read articles pertaining to Christians in Pakistan, you most likely have seen his work.
Since 2009 he has worked with international and national press agencies. Gill has filmed documentaries covering the horrific attack on the Christian town of Gojra in Pakistan, the 2010 and 2011 floods in Pakistan, a documentary on the necessity of education for Christians in Pakistan and helped an Italian journalist in making a documentary about persecuted Christians of Pakistan.
He is also a correspondent for UCA NEWS, including serving as a volunteer with weekly Christian Voice Newspaper which is published from Karachi Diocese Pakistan. Gill worked for Gawahi television, a Christian television channel from 2010 until 2012 as a Host/Photographer.
This gifted young, photo journalist has been a powerful activist for Pakistani Christians, standing up for those taken advantage of, assaulted and oppressed in the Christian faith. He has held positions with organizations such as the Pakistan Christian Congress (Youth leader), All Pakistan Christian League-one of the largest Christian political parties in Pakistan and NGO’S like World Vision in progress, LTN Canada, including others. Boldly, this young man has been a voice for persecuted Christians, while others have remained silent.
Due to his work, he has often been threaten. He shared with VOP,
“It’s common for journalists to receive threats in a country like Pakistan. Due to many threats, I left my city and again in 2012 had to move out of my house to relocate. I never expected that someone could become so vengeful that they would stop me and point a gun at me. I was blessed and believe prayer is what saved me from injury and spared my life. Thankfully, a police squad was coming down the road and the attackers quickly sped away on their motorcycles.”
Sunny explained to Voice of the Persecuted that this was not the first time he has escaped a threatening incident. This time he finds himself in the same hornet’s nest of the many he was called to assist in the past. On the sound advice of those in his circles, Sunny Gill has been asked to stop his protests for the faithful and go into hiding. They believe his situation at this point is dire and to continue this work may mean the loss of his life. For now he is at a safe place, but has no where else to turn and is looking for help. Though he is an accomplished photographer and cameraman, is now unable to find work and worried how he will support his wife and himself. He also fears for his family and consequences they may face.
It is devastating how a vibrant young Christian with the ability to have a future in a good career and the desire to help others, has been attacked to the point of poverty by a group with a radical agenda. They mean to silence him and to stomp out Christianity, while they treat Christians as less than human. Too many times, this is the price and heartbreaking story of the courageous who will stand up against those who would abuse the innocent and helpless. For those who can not speak for themselves and the rights of all who are destitute. (Proverbs 31:8)
Also, many turn their backs on these strong witnesses for Christ, leaving them to fend for themselves. We have become poor examples of our early first century Christian family. They hardly went hungry, because the rest shared all they had with each other.
We must keep this young brother and his family in our prayers. Pray that they will stay safe under the Lord’s protection and Mr. Gill will find the help he needs for daily survival.
* Militants give a clear message that they want to continue the fight
LAHORE: Symbols of Christianity are scattered around Lahore, a legacy of British missionary zeal in Pakistan’s second-biggest city. But this coda to colonial times was jerked into a more violent present at the weekend, with the murder of at least 85 churchgoers in a Taliban suicide attack in the northern city of Peshawar, Financial Times reported.
For Pakistan’s tiny Christian minority, which represents about 2 per cent of the predominantly Muslim population of 190 million, its religion means access to schools such as St Anthony’s, which provide a stepping stone to top universities in the UK and US for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
But the community, like other legacy groups sprinkled across the world, feels its days are numbered. Sajan Masih – whose name means follower of the Messiah, or Christian – is among those who laments “the dying future for Christians in Pakistan”.
Sitting cross-legged on a pavement across the road from the “Zamzama” or Kim’s Gun in central Lahore, Masih points out the Christian schools and churches, as well as the cannon that features in Rudyard Kipling’s writings on life in colonial India.
For the municipal caretaker and father of seven, Sunday’s Taliban suicide attack, which, in addition to the deaths, injured more than 100 shortly after the main weekly mass, marks a continuation of persecution and a tale that will soon be forgotten. “No one cares about Christians in Pakistan,” he shrugs.
Yet the latest violence has shocked many Pakistanis who remember life before the upsurge in militancy.
Sunday’s attack came just two weeks after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif presided over a gathering of leaders of the country’s main political parties in the presence of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the army chief, to discuss his government’s policies on countering the militants.
The event ended with a controversial announcement giving a green light for Sharif’s regime to open fresh peace talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, the main umbrella organisation representing the Taliban.
Since that announcement, the killing of Major General Sanaullah Niazi, a senior army commander, in a Taliban bomb, and Sunday’s attack in Peshawar, have delivered a clear message from the Taliban – that they want to continue the fight.
The situation has revived bitter memories of previous bloody attacks by the Taliban and aligned groups on members of the Shia Muslim community, Pakistan’s second-largest grouping after the majority Sunni Muslims.
Western diplomats say part of the Taliban’s determination to intensify the fight is driven by a growing confidence ahead of the planned withdrawal of US-led western troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year.
“In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Taliban believe, they are increasingly set to win the fight. Why should they stop [the fight] now,” said one western diplomat in Islamabad. “These people [Taliban] are now increasingly looking at victory.”
Some critics say that Nawaz Sharif’s peace initiative is doomed to fail, while others warn he risks a dangerous resurgence in militancy if he closes the door on negotiations.
“You can’t close any one option. In this kind of conflict involving a guerrilla type of warfare, winning the battle is not easy,” says Masood Sharif Khattak, former head of Pakistan’s intelligence bureau, the main civilian counter intelligence agency.
Yet drawing a line under the conflict is about more than a peace settlement with the Taliban, analysts say. There are also controversial laws such as prosecutions for blasphemy against Islam, which in August 2012 resulted in the arrest of a Christian teenage girl.
She was later released after the judge found that the evidence against her had been fabricated. But her family subsequently sought asylum in Canada, fearing that they would be attacked in Pakistan.
In March this year, hundreds of Christian residents fled their homes in one of the poorer districts of Lahore following a mass attack by Muslim zealots seeking revenge over another blasphemy case.
“The law of blasphemy has often been used in Pakistan to target Christians,” said Samuel Masih, a Christian priest in Lahore. “Irrespective of where the Taliban negotiations will go, the question for me is simply, who will end the persecution of Christians in Pakistan? The blasphemy law is something that is an example of where changes must be made.”
For Mr Masih, the caretaker, Sunday’s attack in Peshawar has once again revived a tragic trend surrounding his community. “Our religion is under attack in a country where Christian missionaries once worked freely. Going to church was safe,” he says. “Now, life has become just too dangerous.”
Hong Kong: April 30, 2013. (John Jacob) The Pakistan Christian Post reports in Hong Kong, last Saturday on the April 27th over five hundred torture claimants and asylum seekers joined a protest against the “zero percent acceptance”. This protest was organized under a non-profit, independent and private organization called “Vision First”.
These torture claimants told the interviewers, that many of them have been living here for more than 10 years, but the government wants them to go back to their countries where they can be persecuted. There are over 4000 who are hanging in the space for their future and waiting to put their first step on the land of freedom. Among these 4000 plus, there are 30 Pakistani Christians who were able to escape persecution and many were severely persecuted, falsely accused and threaten by the government and Muslim religious parties of Pakistan.
They are very much under pressure, stressed and worried what will happen to them if they will be removed back to Pakistan. What Christians are facing in Pakistan has been noticed and seen by the International Media and the United Nations, but have failed to stop injustice, false accusations of blasphemy, killing, kidnapping, gang raping, property snatching, threat calls, church attacks etc.
Once someone is target by Muslim groups it’s almost impossible for a person to escape. They can’t go to local law enforcement, because the police do not help them and normally give favor to the Muslims. The Muslim community thinks that Christians are second class citizens and infidels therefore do not have equal rights with them. This causes Christians to seek protection in other areas. It seems there is no such place which you can say is safe now.
The 30 Pakistani Christians are appealing to the government of Hong Kong to not be sent back, but to protect them. Pakistani Christians are peaceful, loyal and good citizens. This is also an appeal to the international community to write to the government of Hong Kong about the injustices that Christians are facing in Pakistan.