Current News 

Persecution in Pakistan

Civil rights activist Mushtag Gill reports on current situations including religious oppression, injustice and deadly attacks on minority groups.


Report by
Sardar Mushtag Gill

18/05/14

[Ed note: the report is printed verbatim. See also 'response' section following this article for a separate report from Pakistan which came in the next day. ]

LEADLAHORE: Today, George Masih met Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill Chief of LEAD, a Human Rights Defender and told that his father, 58-year-old Boota Masih, worked as Niyaria (Gold scrap collector from drain) at Liaquatabad, Karachi in Lalu Khait Jeweller's Market from last 40 years was brutally murdered by cutting his throat by some Muslim in broad daylight on September 14, 2013.

He further added that after slicing throat of his father in front of shopkeepers and traders the killer Muhammad Asif waved his knife in air standing on dead body shouted slogans "Allah O Akber, Allah O Akber" "I have killed an infidel blasphemer" and walked away and no one tried to stop him and asked why had he done heinous crime.

He told that NCJP gave them legal assistance for lodging FIR No. 226/2013 under sections 302/34 PPC against the killer at Police Station Liaqatabad but the killer was deliberately not arrested by Police and now he was fugitive of Police. George told that he was threatened by the killer on phone and also by some of his relatives to withdraw the case and these threats are still continue. We had made registered FIR No. 307/2013 under section 506/B PPC and 25 Telegraph Act. "We are now not dead and not alive",said George."We lost work and now no one willing to give us work among Muslims after this incident",added George.

On Friday, 16 May, Teenager kills man accused of blasphemy in Pakistan police station. The man namely Khalil Ahmad belonging to a minority community was accused of blasphemy in a Punjab village Sharkarpur and was in police custody when the incident occurred.

Ahmad was a member of the minority Ahmadi community, whose members profess to be Muslim. But Pakistan's penal code explicitly discriminates against them.

Ahmadis are prevented by law from "posing as Muslims", declaring their faith publicly, calling their places of worship mosques or performing the Muslim call to prayer. They were declared non-Muslim in 1974 for their belief in a prophet after Mohammed.

Mr. Sayhoon Eric, media Director of VOP told that on May 17, 2014 a blasphemy case has been registered in Mirpur Khas (Sindh) at Railway police station under section
295-A/298, 506/34 of Pakistan Penal Code against four Christians Javed Masih, his wife Nazia , Rose Marry and Cavell David. Hafiz Shah Fahad is the complainant of the FIR. The complainant alleged that the Christians were preaching at Mirpur railway station and this act of the Christians severely injured the feelings of the Muslims. On the same day the police arrested all the Christians and sent them to jail. So far the situation is very tense in the area.

Last week a prominent human rights lawyer Rashid Rehman defending a Pakistani university professor accused of blasphemy was shot and killed after being threatened in court.

In January 2011, Salman Taseer was assassinated by his bodyguard for voicing his opinion on blasphemy law and supporting Asia Bibi. In March, Shahbaz Bhatti, federal minister for minority affairs was assassinated.

According to official figures, Pakistan is home to over 96 percent Muslim population with 3.54 percent religious minorities, including Christians, Hindu, Ahmadiya, Parsi, Buddhist, Sikh and others. As Christianity is the second biggest religion in the country, with 1.59 percent followers, therefore, Christians have been highly exposed to the injustices, under blasphemy laws, in comparison to other minority groups.

Religious minorities in Pakistan are not safe under these blasphemy law, they feel insecure themselves. Our advocacy for victims at LEAD, our voice for rule of law, religious liberty and freedom and our campaign to repeal blasphemy law and all other discriminatory law in Pakistan be continued.
 
Mushtag GillLEAD (Legal Evangelical Association Development) is a registered  relief, development , advocacy and free legal aid organization dedicated to working with children, families , communities , churches and different denominations to overcome poverty and injustice.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are motivated by God's love to serve all people regardless of race, religion, denomination, gender or ethnicity; and to promote the Gospel and Christian faith and values in Pakistan

 

Sardar Mushtag Gill, 19/05/2014

Feedback:
Editor 20/05/2014 09:59
The following report has just been sent to Christians Together by a Pakistani Christian organisation. It concerns a member of a minority community who was (spuriously?) charged with blasphemy and shot dead by a 15-year-old while in police custody

>>>>
On Friday a teenager walked into the Sharaqpur police station and shot a 65 year old man arrested on the blasphemy accusation in a village in Punjab near Lahore.

According to the details a shopkeeper had posted derogatory remarks about the Ahmadis, a minority community. Khalil Ahmad and 3 others went to the shop and asked the shop keeper to remove the sticker with the derogatory remarks for the Ahmadis, the shop keeper refused to do so and after a heated quarrel, the shopkeeper filed a case on blasphemy allegations against Khalil Ahmed a father of 4.

Ahmad was arrested on 13th May and had been in the police custody at the Sharaqpur police station. On Friday evening a teenager came to the police station and inquired about Ahmad and requested to see him.

As he approached Khalil Ahmad, he shot him. The police arrested the teenager, his age is around 15 and he is a high school student.

The religious minorities are living on constant fear, in 1984 Ahmadis were declared as Non-Muslims and have been arrested for reading the Quran, holding religious celebrations and having Quranic verses on rings or wedding cards. In the year 2010, 86 Ahmadis were killed in two simultaneous attacks in Lahore.

In Pakistan even being accused of Blasphemy can lead to extra judicial killing. Anyone can file a blasphemy case claiming their religious feelings are injured for any reason.

The accused are under treat of being killed, and lawyers and judges defending or acquitting them have been attacked. Rights groups say the laws are increasingly used to seize money or property.

Two politicians, Former Governor Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti who suggested reforming the law were killed, one by his own bodyguard. Lawyers showered the killer with rose petals when he came to court.

The number of accusations is rising, according to a 2012 study by the Islamabad-based think tank, the Center for Research and Security Studies. In 2001, there was only one such complaint, but in 2011 there were 80.
Last week a prominent human rights lawyer defending a Pakistani university professor accused of blasphemy was shot and killed after being threatened in court by other lawyers.

Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan had been representing the professor, who taught English and was accused by hardline student groups of making blasphemous remarks on his Facebook page in March 2013.

Earlier this week 68 lawyers were charged with blasphemy, for using the name ‘Umar’ in protest slogans against a police official of the same name.

Life For All Pakistan has condemned the incident and announced to protest in Lahore to show solidarity with the Ahmadi community. Incidents against the religious minorities are drastically increasing, it is evident that intolerance has increased in the country.

LFA Pakistan issued a statement, “3 blasphemy cases in 2 weeks, this is tragic. The 65 year old man was falsely accused and fell a prey to the extremist mind set, a teenager killed a man without even asking him whether or not he had committed blasphemy, only a debate led to such an extreme reaction. The man was in the police custody, let the courts decide the fate of the accused, taking the law in their own hands in the name of religion is insanity. This case shows that the police is helpless and failed to protect an accused. Killing an innocent in the name of religion is unacceptable. The religious minorities have the right to practice their belief, any act of insult to any religion is against the law and inhuman. The religious minorities need to be provided protection and such incidents should be averted.
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