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Sunday 31 January 2010

Please help our community Shabhaz Bhatti and Kamran Michael!


Here are two pleas for help I have received today. I implore any person who knows Shabhaz Bahtti and Kamran Michael to get them involved with these cases _ have emailed Amnesty International, CLAAS, Release International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide:

Dear Sir

I am Xavier William, i am the Regional Director of "Life for All" a registered NGO working on Human Rights.I received a call from Mr Walayat Masih a resident of village Sadhokay, Tehseel Kamokay District Gujranwala. He explained that 3 Muslimbrothers burnt down their house on 26 January 2010.Walayat Masih S/o Bashir Masih lived with his 5 sons at village Sadhokay. 3 Muslim brothers Abdul Sattar Kombo, Mohmmad Aslam Kombo and Abdul Gaffar Kombo asked him to sell them his house as their house is at the back of Walayat Masih`s house. Walayat refused because this house was built by his ancestors. One and a half year ago Abdul Sattar and Mohammad Aslam crushed Walayat`s eldest son under a trolley and threatened him of dire consequences if he talks to any one about it. Even the Police threatened him and refused to lodge a FIR. So he shifted to Rawalpindi. On the morning of 26th January 2010 around 6am, the three brothers came with a few people and set Walayat`s house on fire, burning everything in it. And once again threatened him and his family. They went to the Police for FIR and Protection, instead they also threatened them.Walayat Masih is seeking justice for his son and house. He has lost the earning of his life. No FIR has been registered. He is in Rawalpindi with his family. We have tried to contact Shahbaz Bhatti, Kamran Micheal and Akram Gill, but they are not responding. We have his family with us. We are seeking your assistance to high light the matter in the media. We will be highly obliged. RegardsXavier


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Mr. Wilson Chauhdary
Hector Aleem is a Human Rights activist in Pakistan, He is the founder of Peace Worldwide which is a Christian Human Rights organization. Hector Aleem has been working in Pakistan since 1996 and has done many things for Christians in Pakistan. He was also attacked by Muslims extremists because he was working for Christian Rights in Pakistan. Then on August 2008 some Muslim extremists destroyed a Church and disrespected Holy Bible and Holy Cross.Hector Aleem arranged a protest against this act of Muslims and decided to file a petition against those Muslim extremists. The Government of Pakistan didn't allowed Hector Aleem to file a petition against Muslim extremists in court. Some fundamentalists also threated Mr. Hector Aleem to back off or else something bad will happen to him but hector Aleem didn't backed down.


On 20th December 2008 Mr Hector Aleem was given a peace award by Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani because of his work. Then on 22nd January 2009 about 50 to 60 armed policemen raided Hector Aleem's residence at 12:10 AM. Hector Aleem is a heart patient and he was asleep at that time, Policemen broke in his residence and beat him. They also took money, Jewelry and other valuable things. His family came to know that the offence of Mr. Hector Aleem is Blasphemy which is 295-C after 24 hours. Now he is in Jail since 22 January 2009 and its more then a year and He is still in jail because of this false case. You are requested to help us because there are many other Human Rights activists and Human Rights Organization who knows our case but has not done anything for Hector Aleem. Some of the organizations are CLAAS ( Center For Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement ), Amnesty International, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan etc. We receive your email daily and it seems that you are working for many Christians. You are requested to Help Mr. Hector Aleem as soon as possible. His hearing is on 8th February 2010 and he doesn't even have a lawyer because no lawyer is willing to fight the case of Mr. Hector Aleem. You can send any person to Rawalpindi session court for the hearing. The name of the judge is Ali Imran


Thank you, waiting for your quick response.


For more information please visit Hector Aleem's Blog

Save Hector Aleem

Dear All

At a time that the United Nations calls Switzerland's ban on new minarets "clearly discriminatory and deeply divisive,” and the whole world is condemning the swiss for their vote, I would like to bring to the attention of the world my plight.

My name is Mehwish Aleem and my father (Hector Aleem) is a human rights activist in Pakistan. He has been working as a human rights activist since 1996. He is running an NGO with the name of PEACE WORLDWIDE.

Hector Aleem has worked for Christians and Muslims without prejudice. But today he is in jail and could be killed at any time.

My father was working for a church destroyed by CDA (capital development authority) in Islamabad Pakistan. The church was destroyed because according to CDA it was built illegally. The charge was false.

There are many mosques in Islamabad (the capital of Pakistan) that are built with no permit, but no one will dare to touch them. For example, there was a vacant lot near my house and a Maulvi (Muslim leader) started to build a mosque on it. The land belonged to an absentee owner. When the owner learned about it, he started to destroy the illegally built mosque on his property. Hundreds of Muslims rioted and threatened to kill the owner of the land. As the result he give up his land in order to save his life. The government did not intervene.

Churches on the other hand are destroyed by the governments’ own agents. When Hector Aleem objected to the destruction of the church he faced with several lawsuits ranging from fraud to criminal charges. He fought all of them in the courts and proved his innocence. His opponents tried to assassinate him several times. The Maulvies threatened him that if he continues to work for the church they would kill him and his sons, and would force his dughters to convert to Islam.

During this time Hector Aleem received a Peace award by Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani the prime minister of Pakistan. One month later, on 21st January, 2009 he was arrested by the police. They severely beat him and tortured him mentally and physically. After 24 hours of not knowing what were the charges, we were told that his offence is blasphemy, a charge that carries the death penalty in Pakistan.

According to the first information report someone sent a blasphemous message to a leader of Sunni Tehreek (a Muslim extremist organization) and that sender had once contacted my father. So my father is guilty by association. Since they could not find the offender, they arrested my father. Hector Aleem, is 51 years old and is a heart patient. He is not allowed to take his medication and is denied visitation.

During his trial a large mob gathered in front of the court chanting slogans against him and threatened the judge that if he releases my father they will kill him themselves and they will destroy the court and will also kill the judge and the lawyer who defended my father. Under the mob’s pressure, the judge refused bail. The lawyer of the plaintiffs, who is a Maulvi, told the judge that if he releases my father, he (my father) will be killed as soon as he steps outside the court. Then on 24 June 2009, chief justice of Pakistan Mr. Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudry granted my father bail, but the Maulvies lodged many other criminal cases against him so that he cannot come out. Hector Aleem is still in jail.

It is one year since his capture. The police are in cahoots with the Maulvies. Once two policemen went to my father’s cell and told him that even if he is granted a bail they will not let a blasphemer out. They will lodge so many cases against him that he will not be able to bear them.

Soon after that they proceeded to lodge more charges against my father. They used to take him to the police station every fifteen days, where they beat him and torture him in front of the Maulvies and the Taliban. I am begging for help. I plead to all those who champion the right of Muslims to build more minarets to also care about the minorities in Islamic countries. We are fighting for our lives. Are Muslim minarets more important than our lives of non-Muslims?

Please sign my petition. Please write to the Pakistani authorities listed bellow and ask them to release my father Hector Aleem as soon as possible. He is not guilty of any crime and the accusations of blasphemy that are made against him are false. They want to destroy him because he objected to the destruction of a church. Today, all our family is in hiding. All of us have received death threats. My siblings and I have left our studies and hide for our safety. There is no future for us in our country. If my father is released he will be killed by the mob. We need to get out of Pakistan. Please help us if you can. We don’t know where to turn and whom to ask for help. There is so much hoo-ha about the ban of minarets in Switzerland, but will anyone hear our cry? Please make our cry reach to the ears of those who care more for human life than building minarets. We have done nothing wrong. Our only crime is to be Christians in an Islamic country.

Please contact these authorities and tell them to release my father. They know Hector Aleem is innocent, they are afraid of the mob. Your concern will give them the excuse to act.

Sincerely,

Please Don't Forget to sign this petition by clicking the link below.

http://www.PetitionOnline.com/HAleem/petition.html

For more information please visit Hector Aleem's Blog

http://www.hectoraleem.blogspot.com

Mehwish Aleem

Saturday 30 January 2010

Deaf man beaten for carrying out normal work duties!


Here is a message received from Kahlid Shahzad (the man who broke the Shazia Story) in early January (sic):

Violence against minorities.

Violence against minorities is now entered in 2010. Inayat Masih 50 and his young son Saleem Masih 32 Christians are working as a sanitary worker in Tehsil Municipal Ferozwala Distract Sheikhupura Punjab Pakistan.

On 12th January 2010 both were putting out garbage and trash from the blocked dirty sewerage out side the Majid Rent a Motor cycle at the Sheikhupura Road Kot Abdul Maalik at 9:00.a.m in presence of their supervisor.

The shop owner Majid Ali S/o.Maqsood Ahmad (Khokhar) Muhammad Imtiaz s/o Muhammad Tufail (Rajput) shouted not to put out dirty trash, mud and rubbish in the front of his shop.

Inayat Masih is deaf and he did not listen to. In his anger Majid Ali called his 10 another people near from his shop who beat severely with sticks to both Inayat Masih 50 and his young son Saleem Masih 32.

Imagine helpless Inayat Masih who in his wooden sticks beating was trying to save his son. The beating was stopped after the hard public intervention when the gun firings started against these two helpless Christians.

Despite of a written complain of T M A. (Tehsil Municipal Administration) to the police the police has not registered any case against the culprits but instead pressuring the victims, Forum of Minorities – Lahore, sanitary workers’ leaders to ignore this incident and keep silence (as such cases happen in the life of a sanitary worker in routine).

Any how I appreciate the initiative of “T M A” (Tehsil Municipal Administration) for his support.
Attached with are all relevant documents for the police complain and the response of the police.

For further detailed please contact.

Khalid Shahzad.
G, Secretary
Forum of Minorities

The Hammer of Justice needs to strike fear in the criminal (Lawyer) fraternity of Pakistan

The Hammer of Justice needs to strike fear in the criminal (lawyer) fraternity of Pakistan

Nasir Saeed from CLAAS has provided us with glimmer of hope that justice will prevail in the case against the infamous Mohammed Naeem. An extension of 6 days has been granted by the judge presiding over the court hearing on the 29th January 2010. CLAAS will continue to prepare as strong a case as possible even though it would seem their our forces conniving against them.
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Whatever faith your represent, if you still believe in justice please continue the clamour of support for the victim and her family. If you can attend outside the court during the coming days please do so. Those 300 lawyers who stormed the courts to support the accused rapist, should be disbarred, arrested and improsoned. This might encourage them to reflect on their improper actions that have shamed the country of Pakistan and its justice system.

I lost my daughter for 3 hours today, we had to call the Police and she was eventually found. Praise God! However, losing her for those moments sent a chill not only through my spine but my very being. As I careered around the streets in my home town, somewhat erratically searching for my daughter - I felt helpless and lost. I will not speak about the fears and the trepidation, that threatened to consume me it is too emotional and galling to share. What I will say, however, is that finding my daughter restored my temporarily lost sanity and gave me great succour.

There will be no similar euphoria for the family of Shazia Bashir!
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I cried as I was looking for my daughter saline fluid drenched my collar and cheeks, who much more salt water has welled for the family of Shazia...? I cannot imagine their pain nor would I want to. The horrid turmoil I went through today has taught me a lesson I will never forget. That is, to watch over children constantly and to ensure that they are kept out of harms way. Such philosophy comes to late for the family of Shazia, who cannot change the past. Please rally for justice and do not let the death of this young innocent become just another notch in the diary of a sadistic sexual predator.
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I include the email from Nasir Saeed of CLAAS informing us of the silver lining:
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Dear Wilson,

Thank you for your email and would like to let you know that everything has gone very smoothly and peacefully and that the court has extended Ch. Naeem’s remand for a further 6 days.

Also, don’t be discouraged it is a very long battle which has only begun and the main thing is that we are yet not well equipped.

Regards

Nasir Saeed
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A more recent update has been provided by Albert Kenneth:
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"The local court has extended physical remand of Naeem advocate, main accused in Shazia murder case for six days here on Friday. The accused has been handed over to police.
The relatives of Shazia launched a protest outside the court during the hearing. Accused Naeem advocate brought in the court of judicial magistrate Salim Sheikh from the back door under heavy police deployment.
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The Media was not allowed into the court during the entire hearing.
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A Police statement suggested the media has been stopped on the orders of the court. During the short hearing, police pleaded to the court for the extension of remand for 10 days as the petitioners are collecting evidence.
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The court granted six days remand and handed over the accused to police."

Land grab by arsonists - BPCA and Life for all - campaign for Justice

Walayat Masih and Mehboob Alam

I have received and update on the Gujaranwala Arson Attack from Xavier Williams our BPCA Pakistan Correspondent.
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Xavier informs us that Walayat Masih is now in Rawalpindi with his family. He and his family have suffered terrible death threats from the three Kombot brothers, coveting their property. The secret location in which this family currently reside, has provided some succour and a return of morale to the family. Xavier said:
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"It has been incorrectly reported that Walayat Masih did not contact any Christian political or religious leader for assistance. However the picture included illustrates the support provide from Mr. Mehboob Alam of "Life for All" This man has lost the house he built through the earnings of hard graft and endeavour throughout his poor existence. The unwarranted, illegal and pernicious arson attack on his property has left him destitute and emotionally drained."
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It is purported that Walayat Masih's eldest son was murdered a year and a half ago by Abdul Sattar Kombot and Mohammad Aslam Kombot. The son was crushed under a trolley.
Undeniably, the Kombot brothers are among the influential groups of the village Sadhokay. Xavier has tried to contact the DPO, CPO, DCO and the SHO, but they are not cooperating. MNA Akram Gill has been contacted, he is saying he will talk to the authorities and will try his best to get this matter into the notice of the Government.
Mr. Mehboob Alam tried to contact MPA Kamran Micheal and Shahbaz Bhatti, but was unable to make a contact. Xavier from the BPCA will be arranging a press conference shortly, to raise awareness of this terrible crime, in hope of bringing some justice to the affected family and their community.

Friday 29 January 2010

Shazia Bashir (RIP)

Protest against the injustice of this incident.
Mother and sisters of departed Shazia

Mother and Daughters of departed Shazia

Funeral coffin of Shazia
A Report On An Underage Christian Girl, Shazia (12yrs)
Allegedly Tortured & Killed By A Muslim Lawyer

Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan
26th January 2010
Lahore.

On 23rd Jan. 2010 in the evening Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan (SLMP) got some information through reliable resources that Christian girl (12 years old) has been allegedly tortured to death by Mr.Naeem (his family) advocate Supreme Court Pakistan. SLMP team reaches there for fact-finding

Shazia’s Family Background
Shazia was twelve years old girl. Shazia’s stepfather named as Bashir Masih and her mother Nasreen Bibi were living in a very small and dilapidated single small room. They are living in the worst condition of poverty. They are five brothers and sisters. Shazia was the 3rd one in her family.

One-man name as Amanat Ali used to come in Shazai’s home. He motivated her parents to engage their daughter on a job. So he took the girl to Mr. Naeem’s house. He has been the president of Bar-at Law. Now he is advocate in Supreme Court.

Shazia has been working in Mr.Naeem’s house as maidservant since last eight months. He and his wife used to maltreat her. Shazia has to do a lot of work. It is pity; food was not being given to her on time. Even she was wearing a nicker a long shirt all the time. In extreme cold, she had to do a great deal of work. It is miserable that after the whole day, she had to be hungry. The neighbors are the eyewitnesses of this torture, but nobody-raised voice against this torture/ injustice.

Statements of Some People
Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan interviews some of the neighbors in Defense Colony. One of the neighbor said, “ She was not given proper food. Shazia had to beg for a single loaf of bread. She had been treated as an animal. Even in the cold weather, she was not wearing the warm clothes.

One man said, “ Once I saw that she was eating a little piece of sugar cane lying on the floor. Mrs. Naeem called her; she threw that on the floor again and got frightened. After some time I heard the voices, screaming and shouting etc, as someone is beating a child.

One neighbor woman said, “ Four to five days ago, she was washing the garbage in foggy cold weather, Mrs. Naeem was standing in warm clothes, and she was scolding her. Shazia was not wearing warm clothes. After some days we heard that Shazia had died in the hospital.”

Mr. Naeem and his family did not allow Shazia to visit or see her family. Moreover, they had not given salary Shazia’s parents since last eight months, and when they gave the salary, Shazia was almost dead. She was beaten brutally and harshly, once Shazia complained against Mr. Naeem and his family that they beat her. Later, they did not allow her to meet her parents.

Occurrence
Why Shazia came to worst condition…?

Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan met the people (neighbors) and came to the reality about this mishap. It is stated that Mr. Naeem and his wife did not give food to Shazia. Because of working in the cold weather, Shazia became seriously ill and was unable to work. Even then she was treated very cruelly. Mr. Naeem and his wife used to beat her with sharp shaped instruments (The 12-13 injuries were visible on the dead body) they gave her some medicine but she could not recovered.

On 19th Jan. 2010, the accused took her to the Jinnah Hospital Lahore and offered the family Rs.30, 000 to hush up the matter. It was stated that she died because of falling down from the stairs, when Shazia’s parents came to know that she had died then the relatives and other people of that area protested against this mishap. On 23rd Jan. 2010 main road of Lahore called Mall road was blocked. The NGO’s, News Channels and print media played a major role in highlighting this tragic incident. Shazia’s parents were shocked and depressed but SLMP with the collaboration of other Organizations encouraged them to raise their voice against this injustice.
When Mr. Naeem realized and apprehended that he will have to face the brunt of it. He and his family ran away and left their house. It is very strange that when Shazia’s relatives were protesting on the road, the police authorities did not respond and come to the deceased family for condolence. The case was registered, but Mr.Naeem’s arrestment was not shown on the T.V. It was great enigma for the people that what is happening behind the scene.

SLMP and some friends from other Organizations contacted some police authorities and got the information about the legal procedure. Then they came to know that police registered a case # 56/2010 against Mr. Naeem, his wife Ghazala Naeem, sister in law Robi Farooq and other relative under section 302 in Police Station of Defense B division, on a complaint lodged by Shazia’s mother. The body was sent to the morgue for autopsy and the family said that; “ they would not collect the body until authorities arrest the accused Mr. Naeem advocate. SLMP team shared their sympathies with the deceased girl’s parents and assured them of every kind of moral and spiritual help. They console the family and prayed for them.

Funeral Service
The funeral of 12 years old Shazia Masih, a maid, who was allegedly tortured to death by her employer, was held at the Cathedral Church on Monday 25th January 2010. The Lahore Bishop offered her last rituals and she was buried at the graveyard in Mian Saab. Hundreds of people (Christians and Muslims) Civil Society Organizations, Pastors, religious leaders, Bishops etc, attended the funeral ceremony. SLMP team spends the whole day with Shazia’s family and served food.

The Role Of Government On This Incident
Earlier, Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Shahbaz Sharif took notice of the incident and assured the family that through investigation, justice would be conducted. In a late breaking development, President Asif Ali Zardari also took notice of the girl’s murder and directed Punjab Senior Minister Raja Riaz to extend all possible cooperation to the victim’s family and announced Rs, 50,0000 in compensation. Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr. Yousaf Raza Gallani also expressed his sympathy and sent them cheque of Rs. 50,0000.

The Federal Minister for Minorities Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, Provincial Minister for Minorities Mr. Kamran Michael and members of various political and religious parties and a large numbers of people from the Christian community attended the Shazia’s funeral service.

Meanwhile, senior police officials were interrogating Shazia’s employer, Chaudhery Naeem advocate and his family although Shazia had several marks on her body, autopsy report negated suspicion of abuse.

Newly appointed Cantt Superintendent of police (Investigation) Umar Saeed told in Daily Times (Newspaper) that, “ the accused party and complainants had been summoned today (Tuesday) adding that their statements would be recovered in the meeting.
On the next day, on Tuesday 26th January 2010 an extremely hostile environment was witnessed at the Cantt Court, as Lawyers tried to coerce the court and the media in favor of Chaudhery Naeem advocate who is accused of torturing to death his 12 years old maid Shazia Masih. The unruly lawyers also forced the deceased girl’s family off court perishes.

Legal Procedure started?
As police brought the accused in the court to obtain his physical remand, a large mob of lawyers gathered and started shouting slogans against the media. They also forcibly stopped the reporters from reaching the courtroom where the case was to be heard.

The Lawyers unexpected attitude
The Lawyers-Majority of whom belonged to the Lahore High Court Association (LHCBA) blamed the media for launching a swear campaign against Naeem, a former president of (LHCBA). The lawyers claimed that the media was giving undue attention to the case, saying that Shazia was not killed by Naeem or his family, but had died after falling down from the staircase. In a related development a general house meeting of the (LHCBA) chaired by its newly elected President Sajid Bashir vowed to take the media had on for it’s “biased reporting” of the Shazia murder case. The (LHCBA) also passed a resolution against media personnel and announced a complete boycott of court proceeding on Wednesday to protest against the “unfair” treatment being meted out to Mr. Naeem. Earlier, the court granted the police three-day physical remand of Naeem advocate. Additional District and Session Judge Mr. Shafi-ur-Rehman had earlier granted interim bail to Naeem’s wife and sister-in-law until February 3rd 2010. Mr. Shafi-ur-Rehman directed the authorities to submit the case record in the next hearing. Mr. Naeem’s son has already been given interim bail. Despite the withdrawal of a strike call, the meeting of the Lahore High Court Bar Association could not be held on Wednesday. The lawyers strongly favored Mr.Naeem advocate and boycotted courts because of strike. There was complete silence in the courts, but there were a great numbers of lawyers present in the courts.

Government High Authorities Strongly Condemned the Lawyers
The I.G (Inspector General) Punjab Police named as Mr. Tariq Kalim Dogar strongly condemned and discouraged lawyers’ strike. He stated that there is a pressure group of lawyers that tries to defend the accused advocate Mr. Naeem and his family. This case is an extremely tragic incident for all of us. It is not only an insult to the law but also an insult to humanity.

In National Assembly, the Prime Minister and all the MNA (Member of National Assembly) condemned this tragic incident and expressed their sympathies with the deceased girl’s family.

Conclusion
On 27th January 2010, NGO’s conducted a meeting and declared to arrange a press conference on 29th Friday 2010 in Shazia’s house and they will raise their voice for “Justice’’. All the sanitary workers will strike in favor of deceased girl’s family. They will demand for the strict implementations of Child Labor Laws. By all means, the case should be impartially investigated and Advocate Naeem and his family should be punished according to the law.

Comments
However, one question still remains…. Who is to be blamed for such an “injustice”?

This is just one case that has been reported. The fact is there are millions of Shazia’s out there who are forced to work at a young age and who suffer cruelty or may even lose their lives because of such treatment/maltreatments and their cases never get reported. One society, culture and attitudes towards the poor and the minorities play a major role in causing such injustices. There is no sensitivity to violence whatsoever.

According to (a newspaper “Daily Times” 27th 2010), an estimate 47 percent of the families in Pakistan endure violence inflicted upon them by their own family members. A husband beating up his wife or parents threshing his/her children without any real need is a common aspect of our society. Due to exposure to repeated violent episodes, so the children living in such a household accept it in their lives as a matter of routine and thus violence prevails.

Another issue is the parent’s responsibilities towards their children. Most families, especially in the low economic class, consider family planning a sin. They do not realize that their duty as parents does not end at giving birth only. Making the children healthy, responsible adults, educating them, teaching them moral values and preparing them in such a way that they could handle the pressures of life is also a part of their job. We have to understand the responsibilities of bringing another life into this world. This is in turn, gives birth to child labor, when these people are unable to provide food for themselves and their children to work in violation of the child labor laws.

The Shazia’s murder case also reflects her parent’s apathy towards her. As stated by the Post-Mortem report, Shazia had been tortured for a long period of time, where were her parents when she was being beaten up?

This case is an extremely tragic incident for all of us. It shows how shallow and low we are and if we do not raise our voices now, we will continue to drift into this darkness we are all responsible because our negligence as a society played a part in letting such a crime take place.

This is very tragic aspect that in Pakistan where population is 16 krore, and literacy rate is 17 %. Most of the people are forced to send their children for labor. One-krore children are forced for bounded labor. Child labor should be restricted. Strict laws should be implemented, but in Pakistan not only children but also women are also facing injustice, maltreatment and discriminations. After Long struggle of some women organizations, the bill for violence on woman (domestic worker) has been approved, and the other bill against domestic violence is still lingering on and has not been approved.

Report written and complied by

Amber Sohail
Coordinator (Capacity Building Program for Women)
Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan

Thursday 28 January 2010

Please support the family of Shazia Masih

Today Pakistan has been disgraced by the actions of 300 lawyers who rampaged through Lahore High Court preventing the family of Shazia Masih into the courtroom and forcing the judge to adjourn the case for tomorrow.

It is imperative that people of good constitution attend the court tomorrow the 29th of January 2010 and stand up for truth, justice and peace. Whatever, your faith creed or colour please show support and love for the victims family - make not her life a wasted one.

Raymond Durrani and Associates have said this to their linked Christian brothers;

"Sorry – correction to the fare/fair part. We will pay the fare each way whether it is air, land, bus, taxi and or assisted one.

Please get all your people out to Lahore tomorrow – we will pay for the fair from wherever the people will be coming to participate in the protest via CLAAS - and you have got our name on it."

Together we shall overcome the opressors!



Pakistani Lawyers storm court in support of accused rapist!


On Jan 26, 2010, lawyers stormed the Lahore Session Courts to show solidarity with a lawyer and former president of Lahore High Court Bar Association Mohammed Naeem.

Mohammed Naeem was arrested in the rape , torture and murder case of a 12-year-old Christian domestic worker.

More than 300 rampaging lawyers scuffled with journalists and policemen as they embraced Mohammed Naeem. The Police threatened to punish the lawyers, if they did not leave the court.

The judge was unable to proceed with the legal requirements of the case and had to adjourn the hearing. It has been reported that the judge announced a one-day police remand of the accused. Under the duress of media pressure and public outcry, the Judge later extended this period to a 3 day remand in custody.

The mob of lawyers chanted slogans in favour of accused lawyer and reviling the media.

It would seem that Mohammed Naeem' threat to the family of Shazia Bashir was true;

"The Lawyer community will never go against someone from their own fraternity."

This shameful act by the lawyers under the leadership of the incumbent President of the Lahore High Court Bar Association was staged to pressurize the judiciary and threaten the police and media to cease their normal and legal duties. This slap in the face comes after the doctor appointed by Shabaz Sharif in his post mortem examination, purported that no rape had taken place - despite the contradictory investigation by the doctor who initially treated Shazia. This whole event seems rather contrived and stinks of aristocratic conspiracy.

I am disgusted by this pernicious protest, the fact that people in a position of authority who are meant to serve the law and the people of Pakistan have sided with an alleged criminal before even considering the evidence is despicable. The very foundations of the legal and judicial system in Pakistan have been uprooted and the external image of the country can only be one of turmoil, anarchy, corruption and injustice.

I will be praying for the family of Shazia Bashir and any who chose to stand with and support the family through what is going to be a very difficult time for them. Have these lawyers no children of their own? How will they live with themselves, if evidence confirms the guilt of Mohammed Naeem. I personally believe those involved in the protest should be disbarred, named and shamed and should never be able to stand in a court again unless accused.

The unsavourytactics of these lawyers has today made a mockery of the Pakistani legal system. They have proved once and for all, that the empty gestures and overtures of the Pakistani Government in trying to bring; equality, peace and justice to Pakistan have been whimsical at best and woefully short of their target! The lawyers involved in this base action deserve widespread condemnation. Their actions have shamed a country and have caused devestation to a minority group in their lands and in particular to the family of Shazia Bashir. In their narrow perspective they believe Christians and other minority faith citizens of Pakistan, still hold a second class status, are obviously expendable and meant to be exploited.

Please come and join our Pan-Pakistan protest on the 3rd of April, whatever faith you hold. Don't let apathy or fear sway you from venting your frustations against an impotent government of Pakistan.

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Gujaranwala house burnt down after Christian refused to sell!


Reports of an arson attack on a Gujaranwala home have ignited the Christian Community of Pakistan. Mr. Mehboob Alam Chairman of Ephlal-E-Bible Ministry reported on how he had been contacted by Mr Walayat Masih a resident of Gujranwala city. Walayat informed him that that 3 Muslim brothers burnt down their house on 26 January 2010.

Walayat Masih S/o Bashir Masih lives with his 5 sons in Gujranwala city on the main GT road a primary road that is much sought after for its commercial viability. Three Muslims brothers Abdul Sattar Kombot, Mohmmad Aslam Kombot and Abdul Gaffar Kombot asked Mr Masih to sell his house to them. The brothers all lived in a property to the rear of Mr Masih's house and wanted to expand.

Mr Masih refused to sell mainly because his house was built by his ancestors, close to 12 years ago and had sentimental and historical value to his family. In response to this rejection, it is purported that Abdul Sattar and Mohammad Aslam crushed Walayat`s eldest son under a trolley and threatened him of dire consequences if he talks to any one about it. reports also allude to significant police threat to the Masih family and a refusal to lodge a FIR.

On the evening of 26th January 2010 around 5pm, the three brothers visited Mr Masih bolstered by a larger group of their friends. They set fire to Mr Masih's house which was razed to the ground. The Masih family were threatened without restraint, while this terrible attack befell them. The Police offered no protection and on arrival is has been reported that the Police threatened the Masih family not to repeat any attempt to report the criminals.

Mr. Xavier William the Joint Sectary Pakistan Christian Congress and BPCA lead officer fro Pakistan, strongly condemned the incident. Mr. Rizwan Paul the President "Life for All" also condemned the incident and said;

"Inhuman treatment of the Christians at the lower level has become a regular practice, as the investigations on the Murder of Shazia`s case are still underway, yet another act has been carried out".

Walayat Masih is seeking justice for his son and house. Ephlal-E-Bible Ministry, Pakistan Christian Congress, BPCA and Life for All will be pursuing the Government to take fervent action against the perpetrators of this crime and for them to protect the victims.

Wilson Chowdhry said:

This act of aggression is another example of the ever decreasing moral structure of Pakistan. A man has been made homeless in an act of covetous violence. Again the police have denied the basic legal right afforded to any Pakistani Citizen - the ability to enact a First Incident Report (FIR). How long will the corruption of statutory authorities in Pakistan be ignored? How long will we continue to hear of the impunity afforded by a few rupees, that permits the continuance and growth of a malevolence that threatens to erode the last vestiges of hope that impoverished families, in particular minority faith groups, have clung to. This family is now destitute just because they refused to sell their home - the Pakistani Government must be challenged to investigate and compensate the loss of this family. The miscreant brothers must be brought to justice - if not acts of aggression of this type will continue, just as they have always done.

Shazia Bashir update:

Xavier William our lead officer in Pakistan reported on the Shazia Bashir story (originally sent 25th January 2010):

A sad incident took place on 21st January in Lahore, a 13 year old Shazia Bashir was tortured and murdered by an attorney Mohammad Naeem. Mohammad Naeem visited the house of the victim shortly after the news hit the family of the death of the child. With him he brought a relative -a Brigadier in the Pakistani Army. The two of them tried to coerce the family not to proceed with any action, threatening that nothing would come of it.

Unperturbed the family of Mohammed Naeem informed various aid groups of the situation and his family members have been arrested and sent on judicial remand.

Shazia was laid to rest today -thousands attended the funeral at the Cathedral. Today the BPCA Members along with the President "Life for All" Mr. Rizwan Paul, Mr. Aamier Anwer and Mr. Kashif Mazhar went to meet the family of the deceased.

Nawaz Sharif also visited the family.

The BPCA members led by Xavier William strongly condemned the incident and urged the Christian community to come out on 3rd April and protest for their rights. The BPCA is holding Countrywide protests on the date the day before Easter day an important date in our spiritual calendar that celebrates the resurrection of Christ. We hope to resurrect the fortunes of Pakistan and the rebirth of its people.

Mr. Rizwan strongly condemned the incident and assured the family of his support. Mr Aamir said that hundreds of rape cases of Christian women go unreported in Pakistan.

Reported cases fail to ensure justice for poor Christians.Mr. Kashif Mazhar also condemned the incident and requested the Christian Community to pray for the grieving family.

RegardsXavier

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Shazia Bashir child labour victim (RIP)


The family of the deceased Shazia Bashir has been joined by worldwide Christian-rights activists in their condemnation of the killing of the innocent 12-year old Pakistani Christian girl Shazia.

Shazia was brutally murdered by her employer Mohammad Naeem, who took her after a sordid ordeal of rape and torture. Remarkably the Government of Pakistan spoke out against the atrocity after the country’s leading news channels broke the news story during prime time.

Khalid Shahzad - General Secretary of the Forum of Minorities, who first attended to the victim's family's call for help informed us of progress:

"President Asif Ali Zardari ordered Punjab’s senior minister Raja Riaz to take matter in his hands and announced a compensation of Rs. 0.5 (5 Lakhs) for the suffering family.
Punjab’s chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry and urged Lahore police to register a case against the culprit Mohammad Naeem, who himself is a lawyer of Lahore High Court by profession."

The teenage Christian Shazia a resident of Islamia Park, Samanabad, Lahore was found dead after alleged rape by attorney Mohammad Naeem. Shazia was working as a resident domestic worker within his residence number AA-444 Defense, Lahore.

It has been reported that Shazia was not paid for her domestic work for over 8 months. Informants have stated that often the family provided her with little food (often none) reducing her to a very emaciated physical state. Moreover, in the recent aberrantly cold winter, Shazia was washing their cars with cold water.

Her daily duties included washing clothes, sweeping, dusting and cleaning the entire large house, ironing clothes, washing dishes 3 times daily. During the evenings she was required to massage her landlords. Shazia's workload would have to be completed despite her complaints of aches, pains and bouts of illness, her parents state. She was constantly harrassed and was denied her 1000 ruppes per month salary despite frequent requests.

This whole debacle illustrates the seedy and rather contemptuous child labour exploitation in Pakistan. Pakistan is a den of horror in which people with influence can extend their power and authority over the masses of illiterate and deprived innocent victims- their only crime a life of poverty. For a few rupees and by shaking a few hands, the aristocracy find themselves able to walk free from courts, avoid investigation and able to revoke the law with consummate ease

Khalid Shazad informed us that both he and the parents of Shazia received messages from the imprisoned Mohammad Naeem. In those messages Mr Naeem has threatened them with retributory attacks whilst insisting that courts and lawyer community will never go against someone from their own fraternity.

Domestic workers young and old are subjected to intolerable acts of aggression, rape, abuse and torture. 80% of Christians in Pakistan are domestic workers much due to limited employment and educational opportunities. Only 8% of Pakistani Christians are literate a damning indictment in this modern world we live in. The BPCA will be raising the issue of bonded labour and Child Labour at our next meeting with the Pakistani High Commissioner.

Further articles:

Monday 25 January 2010

Bind us together Lord!


This morning I received a call from Zaki Samson who forwarded the email below and asked me to upload it in its entirety. Any message received from any members of public will be published uncensored unless it has inflammatory, or fabricated information. The BPCA is open to criticisms and concerns and try to respond to all enquiries swiftly. We encourage dialogue of any sort, we live in a democracy and believe in the freedom of speech and erudite knowledge available through information sharing and debate.

Zaki's email (sic):

Dear Wilson.

It is very sad.

I appriciate your concern.

Many members of our community are working hard to raise the voice of our vulnarable minority individually but never thought to be united. Do you think that being a moniority is the ONLY CAUSE of these persecutions. I don't think so.Shazia being only of 13 years of age was forced to work. Why? Because she was the doughter of a poor christian family.It was her time to play and get education. But she could not. WHY?

Is not it a time for all of us to think that how can we take steps to eliminate poverty from among our community. Could you please think about yourself.

Are you playing your part and have you ever given a thought to do something in this regard.

Thank you Zaki Samson

I thank Zaki for his comments and will respond to his comments in order of print.

Firstly if we continue to work individually, we reduce the impact and the impetus of our efforts. The preceding efforts to resolve the numerous issues in Pakistan are evidence of this. I am not saying we all need to club together into one group - not at all. I am all in favour of separate movements, that reach a more diverse community and create a wide spectrum of benefits and solutions. However, we need to be supportive of one another and should promoting each others associated works, were possible, especially where linkage would be beneficial to the end user. For instance, I am in contact with Release International (campaign fro perescuted Christians) they receive our regular email bulletins. In response to our initial story regarding Shazia's demise they sent an investigation team to the victims house and are now working with the family. An officer from Release International attended our protest and was allowed to do so with a team of his cohorts, even though Release did not fully endorse the protest - contesting our flexibility compromise with the Blasphemy Law. Release want the immediate abrogation of the act we are choosing an attritional process to affect step by step attainment towards the eventual repealing of the unfavourable law. Release did not prevent the officer from attending (non representative) and have shared their regular updates with us. A happy compromise was reached and I have recently created a secure blog for sensitive information, such as Release regular updates. If anyone would like to be connected to this send your details to me, I will forward them to Release so that you can join.

Considering the plethora of organisations and individuals working for the benefit of our community, I personally feel it would be sensible to create a lead body, derived from leaders of the main players for Christian aid in Pakistan. It would provide useful cross pollination of ideas and services, create effective linkages and could provide a steering function towards the peace unity and justice we all wish to see in Pakistan. We should also hold interfaith meetings -allowing wider aid agencies working on similar goals to coordinate, share best practice and unify on big issues such as the blasphemy law. But I am an idealist!!

On your second point. I do not believe that being a minority is the only reason for concern in Pakistan. Quite the contrary the BPCA have been challenging for much wider educational reforms. We believe the standard of education in Pakistan has to be increased across the board, if we are to see any progress. We challenged the High Commissioner on the proposal to enhance education by hiring retired teachers in the UK to train Pakistani teachers - our main objection is that those in retirement use out-dated practices. We believe teachers should be recruited from main stream academies as teaching styles and aids have improved drastically in the last 5 years. Moreover, we have always stated statutory reform and police reform should not only tackle the minority equalities, but also the caste and wealth divide. Why in this day and age, can wealthy people thwart justice with bribes? In my most recent post about the progress in the Shazia incident I have proposed educational and statutory reforms of a broad context. Please read it again and see for yourself...?


The same egalitarian approach is highlighted in our meetings with Green Party MEP Jean Lambert (South Asian delegate to the EU), and with the High Commissioner of Pakistan in the UK - please read further:



We are with you on this point and agree that the lot of Pakistanis and not just Pakistani Christians or it's minorities is a bad one! We have been clamouring this from the outset and your query is rather unfair. We are new on the scene, yet were able to arrange such a wide selection of participants at our protest, meeting with the Green MEP Jean lanbert and delegation to the Pakistani High Commissioner. This is because we work on an inclusive principle based on the premise, that collaborative effort, will see to fruition the desire for justice, peace and equality, that affect so many of us globally.

Your next statements reflect on Shazia's position. We agree with you and if you read the post highlight above on the Shazia story. In the content of that link, I believe we have already posted an answer to your query - it may have fuelled your own suggestion? I believe you have already read this post, so you may be confusing us with another group...? Please advise.

We are an unfunded group and our work is very involved and costly - arranging the protest cost over £2000 and that came from my brothers and I (this does not include our time and travel costs only capital and revenue costs associated with the event). Much media attention was raised including several radio interviews, stories in UK and Pakistani newspapers. This resulted in meetings with MEP's and the High Commissioner of Pakistan. Both who have confirmed they would like to work with the delegations, on a long term basis. Our focus in on peace, justice and equality. Within that remit is a strong educational and employment focus base on parity of opportunity. We are doing what we can and that is all we can offer.

If you had some ideas you would have liked to share than why have you not done so? You cannot deny there has been opportunity to meet with us, we have held 3 public meetings and a protest and have visited several churches. Send us any ideas by email, call us on the phone, text us if you will we promise that we will respond to any query. We can respond publicly or privately - however you wish.

Our invitation is open to you and any others - we want to work with anyone and everyone and are planning a public meeting in February - to form a forward plan.

Sunday 24 January 2010

Sadistic rape and killing of Shazia Bashir a 12 year old Christian girl in Pakistan

www.britishpakistanichristians.org

Disgraceful! Look at the wounds on Shazia's neck and face.

Her body lying peacefully in death - subjected to torture in her last moments.


Just a child - her body had not even developed full adult characteristics!


At 14 this child living a life of poverty, needed to work to support a family.


Wounds cover her face, head and neck!


Tortured and beaten before being raped - I pray for justice for the child and her family.


The accused Lawyer smirks in a photograph.


Last night we heard of the tragedy that has befallen the nation of Pakistan. It has been alleged that Shazia Masih a 14 year old Christian Girl in Lahore, Pakistan - as killed in an act of vile debauchery. A prominent wealthy lawyer Mohammed Naeem has been accused of the rape and torture of the innocent girl who was working as a cleaner in his home. The young girl had not even reached physical maturity and in her underdeveloped stage could be misconstrued as being much younger.

Retired General Samson Sharaf has informed me of some progress this morning:

"The Federal Minister for Minorities - Shabaz Bhatti is with the family. Our President, Prime Minister and Chief Minister have issued orders for the apprehensions of the culprits. Human Rights organizations have already coalesced. Things are moving. As regards the compensation to Pervez Masih Shaheed (regarding a Christian martyr that saved Muslims Girls at a School by sacrificing his life for theirs during an explosion), The federal Government is in pipeline and will be paid to a whole group of affectees together. As you would realize, government issues assistance in packets. Blame also goes to those numerous Cristian NGOs who make money on bonded, force and child labour issues and yet do not convince/educate people enough."

The lecherous and pernicious aggression that has been meted out on Shazia has left the Christian community of Pakistan in turmoil. People from minority faith groups predominantly live in impoverished areas and are subjected to perpetual abuse and threats from local Muslim communities. Moreover, a lack of education or employment opportunity has left the beleaguered communities languishing in debt and destitution.

The British Pakistani Christian Association has only recently organised multi-faith delegations to Green MEP Jean Lambert (South Asian delegate for the EU) and to the High Commissioner of Pakistan, campaigning for Justice, Peace, equal rights and parity of opportunity in Pakistan.

Both the High Commissioner and the BPCA delegation believe that a root cause of the situation in Pakistan is the lack of education and significantly biased legislation, coupled with corrupt statutory organisations. Yet no solid groundwork is being undertaken and no plan of action devised to tackle these significant problems.

The fact that this child was working at 12 years of age and is not attending a school, is a failure of Pakistani society and it's government. Free education should be provided to the poorest of families in Pakistan or the impoverished will bypass the educational system. Child protection laws with respect to education and work should be introduced. Child labour times should be restricted to those outside of school hours (for those aged 14 and above) and only with appropriate health, safety and security risk assessment. Moreover, families should be encouraged to send their children to school by laws imposing attendance and removal of Islamic Studies from the mandatory curriculum, in favour of a more general religious education that would foster better relationship between students of diverse faiths - by sharing customs and principles that are often similar in philosophy. Besides, this would also remove the common perception that Islamic studies will be used as a tool for proselytising, that deters parents of minority groups from sending children to school.

Police authorities were reticent to enact the FIR for the incident despite the fact that such process is a mandatory privilege to all citizens. Police corruption and statutory authority corruption allows first and second class citizenship to continue. Wealthy individuals find themselves immune to punishment as they can afford a "get out of Jail free card" Somehow we must tackle this awful malaise and the BPCA believes that a better tax scheme in which all of Pakistani Society is included and revenue is collected efficiently, will gift the government of Pakistan with the capital to pay better wages to their Police and statutory agency employees - reducing the need for them to survive through bribes.

Many people have commented that this despicable act is not an act of religious intolerance but the sordid and contemptuous acts of an evil man. This may be true but it was a Christian sister that was targeted. Only recently we heard of 15,000 toilet cleaners that have lost their employment ina a government employee cull. Over 12,000 were Christians and my point would be why is it always our community that has the worse jobs? It is this fact that subjects us to the cultural revilement and abuse from some of the Muslim population.
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Shazia is a Christian Martyr, she was faultless in her actions, served her deceiptful employers well and with due respect. Shazia has been subjected to the worst possible atrocity a girl of her age could suffer. Her family must be in the deepest of shock and outraged at what has happened. Our community and other communities have galvanised themselves against the immoral acts of this sexual predator.

I will be praying for justice as an outcome of any investigation and succour to the family and friends of Shazia.. I will pray for protection, well being and continued strength for the family of Shazia.

I also ask that others unite in prayer and that if you can visit and assist the family of shazia that you do so, let them see feel and hear that they have support.

Saturday 23 January 2010

Pakistani Christian girl raped and murdered


THE VIOLENCE AGAINST MINORITIES IS CONTINUED.


Name: Shazia D/O Bashir Masih aged 14 years
Islamia Park, Punch Road Aria Nagar, Samanabad, Lahore.


A young Christian Girl was working as a Domestic Worker in AA 444 Defense Lahore with Muhammad Naeem, Lawyer of Lahore High Court. It is alleged that not a single penny was paid the to the late Shazia over the last 8 months. On 21st of January 2010, Shazia’s mother, received the dead body of her younger girl of only 14 years of age. Khalid Shahzad G - Secretary Forum of Minorities is looking into the case.

According to an investigation Shazia was raped and tortured by the Muhammad Naeem. It is alleged that he tried to prevent the case and threatened her father and the media - with potential legal action. It is belived he said;

"I am a lawyer and will see that you acnnot pursue this case because the court and the lawyer community is with me."

Khalid Shazad (Secretary Forum of Minorites) said (sic);

"According to this case we come to know that the elite class and those with influence don’t care about law and order. They can use the law as they want. Shazia is only the source of income for her family because her two elder sisters have been married - she wass only the hope of her young brother Sunny aged 8 years.

According to the mother and father of the victim, Lawyer Mohammad Naeem offered them Rs. 20000 to refrain from taking any acton and for their silence. It is alledgede that the Lawyer said:

"if you shout nobody will listen and they will never get any thing."

Khalid Shazad has informed us that the local Police were also initially reticent to register and FIR against Mohammad Naeem .

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Sukwinder Singh - Candlelight vigil

Memorial poster
A mourner lighting a candle

Memorial poster
See the wonderful array of candles!

Wilson lighting a candle in memory of the lost hero!
Queueing up to light candles!

A sombre moment.
Sikh prayers were said throughout the night!
A fitting tribute to a spiritual man.
Masses of mourners at least 200 in total

All night people flocked to pay their respect.
Here are the official pictures from Saturday's Sikh vigil to mourn the loss of Sukhwinder Singh. The Sikh community came out in droves and were joined by other Redbrige community people seeking solace, after the tragic loss of a community champion. His story of bravery has touched our community in the huge sacrifice Sukhwinder made in losing his life to protect others. The British Sikh Council have now released a press statement:

"Following the nation-wide tributes paid by people from all walks of life, including political parties, charities, community organisations and HRH Prince Charles, the British Sikh Council UK (BSC) resolved to bring together communities by arranging a candle-lit vigil in loving memory of Sukhwinder Singh in the place of his recent bereavement.

In keeping with the spirit of Sikh custom to show hospitality to all, free food and beverages were served to those in attendance who braved freezing, wet and windy conditions to pay their respects to the late Mr Singh in honour of his selfless sacrifice in trying to help a fellow human in distress. A prayer was recited for his family and in order to appeal for peace on a much wider scale. Verses from the Sikh Holy Scriptures ("Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji") were delivered to the mass as melodious meditation filled the air.

On behalf of the Mr Singh’s family and the entire Sikh community, the BSC would like to whole-heartedly thank every person who has expressed their sympathy and support.

The tragic passing of Sukhwinder Singh poignantly reminds us that justice must always prevail and crime of any kind must never be tolerated in our society."
As a Christian I feel for the Sikh community of Redbridge. They have lost someone special and dear to them, who has become an inspiration for the Town of Redbridge and the Sikh Community, a martyr for peace and justice. Men like him are few and far between and seeing the Sikh community come together in this way has inspired me too. I wish to see our brothers and sisters unite in similar fashion, to tackle the challenge of persecution of all minority faith groups in Pakistan.
The Sikh community have shown us that in solidarity great things can be achieved. Moreover, Sukhwinder Singh has reminded us that every one of us has a specific calling from God to "love our Neighbour" Christ Sacrificed his life that we might live, Sukhwinder sacrificed his life to help someone more vulnerable than him. Perhaps it is time we did the same in true Samaritan fashion....? dont forget our protest on the 31st July - you can sign up to attend by clicking on the link at the top of this blog. People of all faiths are invited to attend.

Sunday 17 January 2010

Sukhwinder Singh - a martyr for Justice and Peace!

Standing before the image of Sukhwinder Singh during last nights remembrance ceremony, left me in a state of awe of how well loved this man truly was.
As I addressed the amassed mourners, whose numbers must have exceeded 200, I felt inspired by the strong sense of community amongst Sikhs.

I lit my candle amazed at the array of different candles and the light they shone for a never to be forgotten hero.

It was a sombre moment, but rewarding for me to be there for a community that has supported Pakistani Christians in their plight.

There was barely any room left for my candle and visitors arrived after me with even more candles. The luminescence and heat generated, was a fitting tribute.

Although very blurry this image illustrates the mass of people that came to show their respect.
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Last night the Sikh community of Redbridge mourned the loss of one of their most benevolent and spirited and spiritual brothers. Sukhwinder Singh has been hailed as a Redbridge hero for his gallant efforts to thwart a crime of theft by mugging, enacted on a local vulnerable Ilford women, of a different racial origin and faith. In the process of assisting he lost his life in a knife attack meted out by the pernicious perpetrators of the original crime. Read more (here).
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Sukhwinder was a baptised Sikh with strong ties to his community and local Gurdwara. The Sikh community has been struck with horror at the loss of a committed family man who died whilst being the "Good Samaritan" that many of us aspire too, but inevitably fall short.
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I was invited to speak at the event in my capacity as Vice Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association. Asian Christians and Sikhs have always had a very strong connection in this country and in Pakistan and India. This stems from the fact that our people, are always the minority wherever we habit.
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I felt encouraged and blessed with the attendance of Dr Jasdev Rai Leader of the Sikh Human Rights Group, who attended our recent protest against persecution of minority faith groups in Pakistan. He was part of the delegation to 10 Downing street and was interviewed for our official video of the event (Click here)
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I personally was involved in coercing the UK Passport offices to undertake a risk assessment of the "Same day" Passport application and collection system in all their UK offices. This now allows Baptised Sikhs two options when using the service. The first is to remove their Kirpaan and place it in a blessed box. The second one for which I had to embark on a vigorous campaign resulted in remittance for the Kirpaan to be worn at all times, should the applicant be willing to apply and collect their passport from the Collections Department, which has a safe enough environment for this to be deemed of little risk. (Read more here).
News articles were deficient of information on the "Collections Department" scheme which caused some initial furore.
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Moreover, our two faith groups have united previously to tackle persecution in India too (Read here).
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Last night Wilson gave a short address that consisted of the following:
Greetings to one and all.

Although I come with sorrow mourning the loss of a true Redbridge hero, I also come with a sense of pride that so many Redbridge people have come out today, to honour the life of a man who sacrificed his life in his Samaritan desire to do good. I hope this action by those of us here today bring succour and strength to the family of this spiritual man.

Our local media is so often full of tragedy and news of the moral breakdown of society. This story is no different in many ways, but for the love Sukhwinder Singh showed for a vulnerable victim of crime.

Many of us would have shirked such responsibility. His courage is so rare and valued a commodity, that it has led to this public outrage and attracted such media attention.

We all know what we want from society and our environment. We want:

· Peace
· Unity
· Good quality of life
· Justice
· Equality

So many of us stand aside and watch while communities disintegrate, individuals and groups cause havoc and we all hope and pray that someone else will come to the rescue.

Sukhwinder has led by example. He has become a martyr for Justice and Peace.

I challenge local people today to provide any intelligence of the two incidents relating to the demise of Sukhwinder – to our local Police. I ask that in solidarity we provide comfort to one another and help in times of need. I also request that people donate to the collection being sought, to fund the transport of his Physical body, back to his original homeland of India.

In my role as chairman of the East Ilford Business Partnership I have been raising funds for a peace monument to be installed at the Winston Way Roundabout. This is the location that an innocent victim lost his life to Youth knife crime. I will ask the family of the bereaved, if we can add an epitaph to Sukwinder Singh to this monument (it will have spaces to include the names of all Redbridge victims of violent crime). We have already raised 50% of the funds and if others would like more details please contact me after the event.

Sukhwinder has made the Sikh community proud. He has made the Redbridge Community proud. Most of all, he has made his grieving family proud. I will be praying for his family and friends, as I know having lost a father, what it is to grieve the companionship of a close companion.

God bless us all.
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The reception I received from the Sikh community was very hospitable. During grieving many faiths can become insular (especially due to the need to practice religious customs -unknown to visitors) - questioning outside interference and interest. It is a real indictment on the openness of this community that they were able to receive all peoples, in such a friendly and warm manner.
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People took time out to share the meaning of their customs and spoken practices. Moreover, I would like to clarify for the wider community that may have heard about the "Kirpaan" (ceremonial knife) for the first time that the knife is a simple reminder to the bearer of their responsibility to protect others - the victim Sukwinder never drew his knife despite the ferocity of the attack on him.
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Some visitors to last night meeting requested more details on the "Redbridge Peace Monument" project. You can learn more by clicking (here)

Thursday 14 January 2010

In brief the Blasphemy Laws of Pakistan


During my discussions with Pakistani Christians and other faith representatives, I have come to the knowledge, that few of us truly understand, the individual implications of the Pakistani Blasphemy Laws. To bring a better understanding to the readership of the BPCA blog, I have undertaken a study and write in brief - what I believe are the main points. Several components of the Pakistani Criminal Code comprise its blasphemy laws:

Section 295 forbids damaging or defiling a place of worship or a sacred object;



  • Section 295-A forbids any outrages to religious feelings.

  • Section 295-B forbids desecration of the Quran.

  • Section 295-C forbids defamation of the Prophet Mohammed.

  • Barring 295-C, the provisions of section 295 stipulate that offences are a consequence of intent rather than tangible acts.

  • Desecration of the Quran warrants imprisonment for life.

  • Defaming Prophet Mohammed merits death with or without a fine.

  • If a charge is brought to the authorities under Section 295-C, the trial must take place in a Court of Session with a Muslim judge presiding.

Section 298:



  • Section 298-A prohibits the use of any derogatory remark or representation in respect of Muslim holy personages.

  • Section 298-B and 298-C prohibit the Ahmaddiya from behaving as Muslims behave, calling themselves Muslims, proselytizing, or "in any manner whatsoever" outraging the religious feelings of Muslims.

  • Violation of any part of Section 298 could render the accused liable to imprisonment for up to three years possibly a fine too.


Article 45 of "The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan" (1973) states:


"the President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority."


Having read through the text of these acts, I outline the alterations the BPCA would espouse to the existing Blasphemy Laws - These alterations would provide better freedoms and equality to minority groups, however, I reiterate that such a proposal is not a primary objective for the BPCA. Moreover this is a first step in our granular approach of tackling the injustices of the Blasphemy Law. Our primary objective is for it's permanent abrogation;


Section 295:



  • Introduce extensions to 295-A to enforce against abuses or outrages to religious feelings of any faith.

  • Extend 295-B to prevent desecration or defilement of any holy texts.

  • Extend 295-C to prevent the defamation of any holy prophet of any faith.

  • Redesign legal practice and definition to restrict arrestable offences to tangible, evidence led breaches.

  • Reduce sentences to a maximum of 6 months with rehabilitation and a range of "Restorative Justice" programs i.e. repainting religious buildings to compensate for the hurt and provocation/incitement.

  • Remove any form of death sentence.

Section 298:



  • Extend existing legislation to afford protection to "Religious Personages"of all faiths.

  • Reduce sentencing to just 6 months and a possible fine - with "Restorative Justice" programs.

  • Remove the highly contentious discriminatory sections 298-B and 298-C entirely.

A provision should also be added that stipulates before cases of Blasphemy Law are implemented, the decisions should be reviewed by a scrutiny panel, to ensure fairness within the decision making process. The panel should consist of representatives of minority faith groups with no restriction on communication with outside media or the Public. Moreover, the President should personally undertake a sampling exercise on the reviews from the Scrutiny panel and actual cases themselves.


The provisions above are suggestions from the BPCA and may or may not make the final submission to the High Commissioner on the issue of the Blasphemy Law. We would invite the comments of those reading this post....?


A copy of the Blasphemy Law can be read (here)


A copy of Section 45 of the 1973 Constitution can be read (here)