Properties were stoned during the overnight siege of Rimsha's town.
The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) has found a new partner, Shamim Masih of REAP, who has worked for the last two years helping Christian families in the slums of Islamabad as and when they have the funds.
Shamim has distributed food packages funded by the BPCA donations to families, particularly those in the H-9 district, many of whom were displaced when the mob attacked Rimsha’s home community.
The original residents of H-9 are Christians who since being forced to evacuate their dwellings in another area in 2009, have been living in tents ever since, unable to afford housing.
Shamim Masih said;
"Many Christians were granted permission to live at H-9 by the former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Galiani in 2009, when they were displaced from Shehzad town, Islamabad to the road side of G-7 where it was felt inappropriate for them to live. Since then they are living there in the tents, there is no electricity, no water provision, and no drainage system. Their living is pathetic, and no Christian leader seems to pay a whole lot of attention to them."
The refugees from the Rimsha incident arrived in fear for their lives and set up tents in the area. Since they were unable to attend work, many have lost their jobs and are doubly destitute. They also reported since they had to flee so suddenly without locking their doors, their homes have been looted of all valuables. Those who have returned home want to get out, since they know their landlords want to kill them if they can. They want an area of their own where they can live peacefully and practice their faith.
Shamim Masih said;
"Although there is still a sense of insecurity, but the local authorities are extending their full cooperation for their protection.
Generally speaking, a lot of things are required for them and the gifts we provided them would only be good for a week or so. They are looking towards us for many things that may not be practically possible immediately as it involves a lot of funding, as they desire the support to build their own homes, financial support on a monthly basis to meet their living expenses etc., the prioritized list can be developed if your cooperation is available on regular basis.”
However, since the new refugees arrived, officials of Capital Development Authority (CDA) Islamabad arrived on the morning of 7th September. They called out a man called Yousaf Masih and ordered him to get the pastor out to talk to them. They beat him so badly for being too slow that his arm was broken. He called out for Pastor Arif Khokher to come out. When the pastor emerged from his tent, the CDA officials slapped him across the face, pushed him to the floor and then placed on a CDA van and where he was threatened and beaten further. His homeless congregation heard his cries and rushed out to rescue him but the government officials severely beat them – both the old and the newer inhabitants.
The CDA taskforce warned the Christian community to leave the slum within a few days, otherwise their temporary dwellings would be demolished and they would suffer more beatings.
The CDA launched then lodged a report at the nearby police station claiming the pastor had called on his followers to use violence, and that he was trespassing.
Wilson Chowdhry of the BPCA said;
"Poor Christians in Pakistan are among the most vulnerable people in Pakistan's splintered society. The villagers from Rimsha's town having fled to H-9 have inadvertently made the lives of the permanent settlers there untenable. This land was granted to a former displaced community by a former Prime minister and we call on the Government to ensure that these families are protected from further attacks and that their permitted status is made widely known. Moreover, we call for relocation of Rimsha's villagers and full compensation for their homes and stolen personal belongings."
The BPCA has created a fund to protect and feed these families who have been forgotten by Pakistani authorities. If you would like to contribute please use the details below:
If you would like to contribute to this "Rimsha Masih Fund" (Please use the fund name as a reference) you can pay several ways – by using the PayPal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog. You can also send your contributions by cheque payable to;
British Pakistani Christian Association.
Address : British Pakistani Christian Association
57 Green Lane
Alternatively should you wish you can pay by BACS, direct debit or standing order by paying into the following account details:
Sort Code: 20-67-90
Account Number: 63468976
CDA levelled makeshift homes from an encampment of Fleeing Christians in a nearby forest.
Meagre living quarters yet people had called it home.
Christians in H-9 Area adamant they have the right to stay.
One of the many families left homeless.
Young children forced to work at H-9 Area and kept home for their own safety.
Abject poverty but it was home.
Our Partners REAP are helping many families on rotational basis subject to the availability of funds for the last two years. They have been working with the slums of Islamabad using other contributions.
Specifically with reference to Rimsha's Area there are about 295 registered families, who are back in that locality and REAP distributed our BPCA food gifts amongst 18 families, who are dependent on this support.
Some statements from local residents include;
BOOTA MASIH, (48 year), father of 5 children said;
"When this incident happened we took took family and escaped at midnight when it was darkest. Since then we have not been able to settle down here properly. I could not attend my job during those days and it has now been taken away from me. Thank you for the provision of the food materials - without them we would have starved."
SAJID MASIH, motor workshop engineer, said;
"You are first NGO to reach us at our location, other NGOs have distributed in other areas and we have been overlooked. They might be afraid of coming here as it is so dangerous so thank you for taking the risk. We are really grateful to you for this help."
IRSHAD BIBI, mother of 5 school going children said;
"The situation was so severe and we had to run for our lives we did not even have time to lock our doors properly and lost many of our possession on return. Thank you."
MANWAR MASIH, 30 years with three children said;
"We are back in the town but are aware of the mentality of our landlords. They will not spare us if they get the chance they will kill us. We just want a piece of land for us where we can live peacefully and can perform our religious services."
About this particular distribution Shamim Masih said;
"The pictures sent to you are taken at their places while giving them the gifts. Although there is still a sense of insecurity, but the local authorities are extending their full cooperation for their protection.
Generally speaking, a lot of things are required for them and the gifts we provided them would only be good for a week or so. They are looking towards us for many things that may not be practically possible immediately as it involves lot of funding, as they desire the support to build their own homes, financial support on monthly basis to meet their living expenses etc., the prioritized list can be developed if your cooperation is available on regular basis."
Christians were grateful to receive food packages as they became less of a burden on their families.
We provided as many families with food as were possible. Our small budget severely limited this and we desperately need more funds to assist those that have lost their jobs and homes, due to the attack on their community.
Shamim Masih co-ordinated the food exchange for us.
Families were encouraged by the help from abroad. We were the first to come to this particular groups aid.
Food packages were gratefully accepted.
The slums in which these families reside would be deemed a health hazard in the UK.
Those that have returned to their homes, have found their place has been looted and their employment terminated.
Some homes are still vacant awaiting the return of the owners.