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Monday, 21 October 2013

Pakistani Christians touched by the love and sincerity of Northern Irish people.

BPCA Chairman Wilson Chowdhry is joined at candlelight vigil for victims of the Peshawar twin bomb attack on a church, by  local Irish volunteers concerned about the ongoing persecution of Christians in Pakistan

Belfast city centre was the venue for a candlelight vigil for Pakistani Christians slain on 22nd September 2013, in the courtyard of All Saint's Church, Peshawar.

The vigil  outside Belfast's famous City Hall, was led by the British Pakistani Christian Association whose aims were to highlight the plight of suffering Christians in Pakistani.  Candles were set out in the shape of a cross and leaflets were distributed to local visitors, describing the recent bomb atrocity that killed 126 innocent parishioners and maimed a further 100.  Leaflets signposted an electronic petition that would later be submitted to the Irish Parliament, calling for British Parliamentarians to seek  better protection of minorities living in Pakistan through dialogue with Pakistan's Government and to use the existing British aid budget to Pakistan as a lever for progressive humanitarian improvement.  Our electronic petition can be signed here:

The BPCA also described the ongoing incarceration of Asia Bibi, held under Pakistan's draconian and discriminatory blasphemy laws, under false charges.  Mrs Bibi a mother of 5 children, was beaten raped and taken into protective police custody after she was accused of blaspheming against the prophet muhammed - this safe custody later become detention under a charge of blasphemy. Mrs Bibi Currently awaits death by hanging after being found guilty of at Sheikupura Court in 2009.

Mrs Bibi's crime was offering of water to Muslim co-workers on a hot day, whilst collecting berries.  The co-workers enraged that a Christian untouchable had dared to approach them in this manner, started to abuse her about her faith her simple reply was; 

"My Christ die for me? What has Muhammed done for you?"

A large number of visitors showed support for the vigil and lit candles.   Many of them had discovered the existence of Pakistani Christians for the first time and expressed great condemnation for the killings. Although their was no attempt to raise funds at this vigil, local people offered donations for support for the victims of the Peshawar that amounted to in excess of £100.  Organisers of the event felt humbled and felt great solace from the exhibited generosity and passion of Irish people.

Wilson Chowdhry initiates Candlelight vigil.

Northern Ireland is a land that has suffered much sectarian violence and the timing of the BPCA protests, clashed with a series of local flag protests, over the removal of the Union Flag from Belfast City Hall.  The peace process in Ireland has moved forward significantly in recent years, and many still remember the more terrible years when terrorism and the use of bombs was frequent.  This created an affinity amongst local people with the Pakistani Christians who had suffered this recent terrible atrocity.

Hilda Orr a Christian from Belfast said;

"It is with great shame I remember times gone by, when many innocent people lost their lives simply because of where they lived and the way they practised their faith - things here are much better now

.  I will be praying that a similar humanitarian effort for Pakistan, creates a safer environment for Pakistani Christians."

Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA said:

"The people of Northern Ireland have overcome huge obstacles to reach their current more stable and peaceful environment.  There are lessons that need to be learned from the remarkable desire for conciliation and tolerance,  illustrated in modern Ireland.  It is for this purpose that we held our candlelight vigil in Belfast and now we submit our petition to Irish Parliamentarians, who are best placed to devise mechanisms for peace in Pakistan.  We pray that they will use their expertise to challenge for change in Pakistan too."

Ruby Akhtar an Irish citizen of Pakistani of Judaic Christian origins and an active campaigner said;

"When I was in Pakistan as a Jew, it was unsafe for me to declare my true faith so I hid under the banner of Christianity as it was at the time (1970's), a culturally acceptable - though discriminated group.  It has now become unbearable for any minorities living in Pakistan."

She added;

"As a dual national of Ireland and Britain, I call for Irish Ministers to take action and protect these innocent victims.  We have overcome terrorism in our Irish communities and should now use our expertise to help others."  

Many British Pakistani Christians still have close family ties in Pakistan and are constantly worried about the safety of their loved ones. We at the BPCA feel Christians in Pakistan should no longer have to live in fear and should be free to practice their religion. And that's why we need your help to force the government of Pakistan into action and no longer stand by while innocent people are attacked and killed. 
We would also like to urge the British government to urgently reconsider its asylum regulations and make sure those fleeing this violence are offered a safe haven here in the UK.

Please sign our electronic petition here:

The BPCA are currently providing relief aid to victims of this bomb attack, which includes sponsoring orphans, paying for new limbs, counselling and settling medical debts, which the Government has failed to do despite promises. If you would like to contribute to this work or  for our work in continuing to raise awareness of atrocities meted out towards minorities in Pakistan.  Further details of our work can be found by clicking this link:

 If you would like to contribute to our relief work, please use the following details;

Cheques can be sent to -
BPCA, 57 Green Lane, Ilford, EssexIG1 1XG
Bank details for transfer – Sort Code 20 67 90  Account number 6346 8976

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