22 March 2018

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03/01/2018 PAKISTAN

Pakistan’s Catholic and Protestant Churches condemn the torture of a young Christian (video)

Sajid Masih jumped from a window in the Punjab police headquarters to escape police abuse. After days of waiting at the hospital, he was operated on his legs yesterday. Christian leaders call for an independent inquiry, demanding justice. His cousin Patras is still in custody for alleged blasphemy.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Pakistan's Catholic and Protestant leaders have condemned the torture inflicted on Sajid Masih, a 24-year-old Punjab Christian who jumped from the fourth floor of a police station during interrogation in the presence of his cousin Patras, 17, who is accused of blasphemy.

Christian leaders want the Supreme Court drop the case of attempted suicide and investigate what really happened, including the abuse and torture suffered by the two young men at the hands of the police.

Yesterday, the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan (CBCP) issued a statement signed by its president, Mgr Joseph Arshad; national director, Fr Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani); and executive director, Cecil S. Chaudhry.

In light of the evidence available, the letter says “The Supreme Court should take immediate Suo Motu action to withdraw the FIR* against Sajid Masih for attempted suicide because in the light of evidence he was attempting to escape from the physical and psychological torture while also being forced to sexually abuse his minor cousin. The state should conduct an independent inquiry, ensuring a fair trial and access to justice for the accused.”

The letter goes on to lament that "even in hospital he [Sajid Masih] is being discriminated against and doctors are not operating on him, making excuses and using delaying tactics”.

What is more, “security should be provided to the accused and their family in order to prevent the real and present threat of violence and take strict action against the perpetrators." 

Sajid Masih is currently in hospital in stable conditions. Yesterday he finally underwent surgery on his fractured legs. The family reports that the four-hour operation went well.

Now the major concern is a second delicate operation to the jaw. It should last eight hours, and take place some time over the next four to five days.

Sajid’s brother is grateful to Christians for showing their support and has asked them to continue to pray for the young man’s recovery.

Meanwhile, his cousin Patras is still under arrest, charged with posting blasphemous comments on Facebook.

According to the NCJP, 18 cases of blasphemy were recorded in 2017; 1.505 since 1985, often with mob attacks against religious minorities.

Pakistan’s Protestant Churches have also expressed concern, including Rev Amjat Niamat, the moderator at the Lahore Presbyterian Church of Pakistan. In a video released last Sunday, he spoke of growing insecurity among Christians.

“Our main complaint,” he says, “is that Christians accused of blasphemy are killed extra judicially, their family members are troubled and their settlements are burnt."

Addressing Muslims, he adds: "Do you think Christians are to be cut like vegetables? We eat the same food you eat and share the same problems every peaceful patriot Pakistani faces. We do not want to push our country into a civil war or a religious war. We are deeply concerned about the misuse of this law" on blasphemy.

"We appeal to the chief justice of Pakistan, to the army chief and to the FIA director to investigate the suicide attempt case as per Sajid statement and punish those responsible,” he pleads in the video.

“Stand with us and stop the misuse of this law. I question the silence of media and big anchors. Why can't they become our voices? We serve this country in education and healthcare but are treated as second class citizens.”

Finally, “Where are the political parties? I ask the entire Christian community to use their power of vote and unite in this difficult hour. Come out to fight for your dignity and rights or time will not forgive you. God supports those who are left helpless."

* FIR means First Information Report, which police prepare when they receive information about a cognisable offence.

 (Shafique Khokhar contributed to this article)

See also

27/02/2018 16:46:00 PAKISTAN
Christians fast to save young man wounded during an interrogation

Two protests are held at the same time in Lahore and Karachi. Sajid Masih is in a Lahore hospital. The Christian man jumped from the window of the Punjab police headquarters to escape torture by agents.

26/02/2018 16:16:00 PAKISTAN
Christian jumps from fourth floor during the interrogation in Lahore. Activists ask for a fair trial (Video)

Sajid Masih is in intensive care in serious condition. His 17-year-old cousin is the Christian man arrested for blasphemy. Police agents wanted to force him to perform oral sex on his relative. For activist, "The government should punish the agents involved".

10/03/2018 16:57:00 PAKISTAN
In Lahore, a movement for tolerance holds a hunger strike against blasphemy laws

The protest took place yesterday in front of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab. Many politicians, civil society leaders, and clerics were present. The cases of Patras Masih and his cousin Sajid, who is in hospital with serious injuries, were cited.

14/03/2018 14:40:00 PAKISTAN
Lawyer for 'blasphemous' Christians warns of investigation irregularities in Lahore

Aneeqa Maria took part in the hunger strike led by the Movement for Tolerance. Almost all of Sajid Masih’s bones are broken. “Some hospital workers are even praying for [his] death”. In Pakistan, “a dead dog and a dead Christian are seen as equals”.

05/04/2007 PAKISTAN
Life of 11-year-old Christian in danger even though he is not charged with anything
Blasphemy accusations have been made against five Christians, the youngest a 16-year-old, after a quarrel between boys that was blamed on the 11-year-old. Local Christians are afraid that he might become the target of violence.

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