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Friday 30 May 2014

Apparent honour killing leads to murder of 25 year old pregnant mother!

Pakistan:In an apparent 'honour killing' a 25-year-old pregnant woman was stoned to death by her own family at the gate of Lahore High Court in Pakistan Tuesday for marrying the man of her choice.

According to Police,Farzana Parveen, resident of Faisalabad, had married Mohammad Iqbal of Jaranwala a few months ago against the wishes of her family.

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

Nearly 20 people attacked both the  husband and wife in broad daylight before a crowd of people and in the presence of security guards. The husband later described how  police watched the attack silently.Farzana, who was three-months pregnant, died while her husband managed to escape.

Today Thursday,29 May,2014,Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took notice of the murder of a 25-year-old pregnant woman during an honour killing in front of Lahore High Court.  He has ordered an inquiry into why the police apparently stood by during the whole incident.

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,a Human Rights Defender and Chief of LEAD along with his team of LEAD consisting of Farazana Sardar,Coordinator of Women Rights,Aric John Advocate,legal Advisor, Sayhoon Eric,Media coordinator and Qaiser Younas ,Court Clerk were present at the Lahore High Court when this incident happened.  The violence broke out during the Appeal hearing of Christian mother of five; Asia Bibi, which was again cancelled unexpectedly.  

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Asia Bibi faced with ignominy of her fifth deferred Appeal hearing!

Asia Bibi's Children just want to be with their mother!

Pakistan: Asia Bibi the Christian mother of five who is facing a death penalty and his been incarcerated for five years, was devastated on discovering her Appeal Hearing has been cancelled today. 

Please sign our petition for Asia Bibi  (Click here)

This is now the fifth deferment of Asia Bibi's appeal against the false blasphemy charges that have ruined her life and devastated her family.

Advocate Mushtaq Gill said;

"We have concerns about those who are languishing in jails due to their faith including Asia Bibi and innocent Sawan Masih, but the mob of extremists who burnt Christian homes including Churches in Bedami Bagh, Lahore are walking free without punishment." 

Recently,a man accused of blasphemy,Khalil Ahmed was shot dead by extremists.He was killed by teenage boy while in police detention, hours after he was arrested.It was the second murder involving the blasphemy issuelaws within this month.  Human rights activist Rashid Rehman was also shot dead while he was sitting in his chamber.His murderers have not yet been apprehended despite, reports that he named those who threatened him.

Mushtaq Gill added;

"This is a country where a judge had to flee abroad after convicting murderer of governor Salmaan Taseer.  In fact, the blasphemy law has become an instrument of persecution even against those who defend the accused."

Human Rights activists in Pakistan believe the current climate for minorities has reached a Nadir.  

Mustaq Gill said;

"We are in arguably one of the worst times ever to be a religious minority in Pakistan.We are seeing unprecedented levels of marginalisation and violence against religious minorities in Pakistan under the umbrella of the blasphemy law .How we can think about religious liberty ,freedom of thought and expression if there is law which discriminate and that is safeguard of only particularly religion and its faiths;and where no fair trial and unfair detainment just because of having difference of faith.These words are only in written form that we are all born free and equal but in reality practice is different."

He added;

"The state is stamped with a religion and is constitutionally called Islamic Republic of Pakistan.We Christians and other religious minorities seek advice on what to do about it? We demand a secular state in which we all can enjoy equal rights and be treated equally before the law.We wish to promote peace and religious harmony in Pakistan but how it can be possible under the influence of religious extremists.This is a major problem, which the state has to take seriously." 

Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA was disappointed at hearing news of this further delay.  He questioned the validity of the law courts and the intentions of a Government unwilling to offer presidential pardon for Asia, a long term victim of draconian laws. He said;

"It is evident to me that the law courts of Pakistan are unable to uphold truth and justice.  Whether it is fear of reprisals or simply extremism that is preventing judges form presiding over this appeal trial, matters not.  The simple truth is that international conventions are being breached, and Asia Bibi is not being given her basic human right to a fair trial."  

He added;

"It is time for the the Government of Pakistan to accept their responsibility to care for this persecuted citizen.  The president of the country should immediately pardon Asia and allow her the freedom and protection she deserves."

Sunday 25 May 2014

Excerpt from The Targeting of “ Minority Others” in Pakistan

Price of book including P&P for UK, Europe, Pakistan and US.

I have been contacted on several occasions by Pakistani Christian asylum seekers desperate for help with preparing their appeal. I have also been contacted by the chaplain at Yarl’s Wood detention centre out concern over the lack of support they are receiving. Twin sisters at Yarl’s Wood, who cannot be named, told me that one of them had been kidnapped after refusing to convert to Islam. In another case, one woman’s entire family in Pakistan is suffering because her nephew has refused to convert to Islam. Instead of her nephew, she has had to pay the price of his refusal, having been tortured and sexually assaulted by the Pakistani police during investigations. She is still wanted by the Pakistani police and it is not clear what the outcome of this situation will be.

Thank you for reading this and please know that your sharing, liking and commenting on this post goes a long way in helping to give voice to the persecuted.

All proceeds from the sale of the book support the work of the BPCA.  Much of the early sales will be used to support victims of the Peshawar bomb attacks - December 2013.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Excerpt from The Targeting of “ Minority Others” in Pakistan

Price of book including P&P for UK, Europe, Pakistan and US.

Concerning the shameful manner in which many Pakistani Christians and ‘Others’ are denied asylum in the UK, Nasir Saeed notes that:

 If any Westerner has any doubt as to the severity of the situation, they need only consider the accusation of blasphemy levelled against an 8th grade pupil at a school near Abbottabad because she misspelled a word in a class test. The school’s decision to expel her only proves the extent to which the blasphemy laws are being misused. Yet, the British Government appears almost determined not to let any asylum seeker in, no matter how desperate or endangered their lives back home are. From the moment they submit their application for

asylum, Pakistani Christians have a tough time convincing the Border Agency that returning to their homeland is life threatening.

Thank you for reading this and please know that your sharing, liking and commenting on this post goes a long way in helping to give voice to the persecuted.

All proceeds from the sale of the book support the work of the BPCA.  Much of the early sales will be used to support victims of the Peshawar bomb attacks - December 2013.

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Boko Haram wants to “hurt the heart of Nigeria”

Archbishop Kaigama

By John Newton
(Original interview by Maria Lozano) 

THE leader of Nigeria’s Catholics has spoken out – expressing his concerns for the girls kidnapped in the north of the country last month.

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, described his anguish over the plight of the 276 schoolgirls still being held by Boko Haram.
They were among more than 300 students seized by members of the terrorist group from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State on the night of 14th–15th April.

Speaking to Aid to the Church in Need during the charity’s international Religious Freedom Conference in Malta, the prelate said: “I am very worried. These girls have never been outside of their village, and now they are in the bush.”

He added: “I just pray that the religious values that Boko Haram promotes are sufficient to influence them to respect the dignity of these girls. 
“They are just innocent girls and every human being feels bad about this. Life is sacred.”
Asked why he thought the terrorist group had carried out the kidnappings, Archbishop Kaigama replied: “They wanted to hurt the heart of Nigeria.”
For the prelate this latest outrage seems to show that Boko Haram is continuing to target the Christian community.
He said: “Most of the girls are Christian. The majority of the girls who escaped were Christian so we can presume that this applies to those still being held.”
Some of the 53 girls who escaped from Boko Haram spoke about their ordeal on Sunday 11th May, describing their abduction and bid for freedom.
Archbishop Kaigama added: “But it is also true that there are some Muslims who were also kidnapped. So this incident is further evidence to show that Boko Haram is also targeting Muslims to some extent.”
The prelate went on to say that while Boko Haram had originally begun by targeting “Christians as well as police stations and other institutions representing western values” their campaign had expanded and they had now attacked Islamic organisations, killing Muslim clerics.
The archbishop went on to describe the ongoing attacks on Christian churches.
He said: “In my own diocese of Jos, we have suffered several attacks, for example St. Finbarr’s Catholic Church in which 14 people died.
“In February, the group killed more than 100 Christian men in the villages of Doron Baga and Izghe, but the international community did not respond.”
The prelate told Aid to the Church in Need that the latest outrage had caused the international community to turn its attention to Nigeria’s sufferings.
“This time was different, I think, because they are innocent young girls and also because it touches directly the suffering of women, the mothers of these children.
“And women can identify themselves more with the pain of others. The women started holding demonstrations – both Christian and Muslim women.”
The leader of Nigeria’s Catholics went on to stress that, having tried all other means, prayer is currently the best solution to the threat of Boko Haram.
He said: “We tried dialogue and it didn’t work; the government used force and it didn’t work.
“At this stage, what we need to do is to pray – only God can move the heart of these people.”
Archbishop Kaigama went on to request spiritual solidarity with Nigeria’s suffering Church: “We pray and we request your prayers”
He added that he had asked all the Catholics in Nigeria to spend an hour in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, asking God for a lasting solution to the crisis in Nigeria.

Archbishop Kaigama said he is praying for three things – that the girls are released soon and unharmed, that Boko Haram abandons violence, and “that countries come together and fight terrorism, hunger, poverty to create an authentic unity, not just to serve political – hypocritical – interests”.

Sunday 11 May 2014

Excerpt from The Targeting of “ Minority Others” in Pakistan

Price of book including P&P for UK, Europe, Pakistan and US.

There was a mass deportation charter flight to Pakistan from UK on 6th  February 2012, it’s unclear if this was the first. Another took place on 19th March 2012 [PVT120] at least one of the airport-transfer buses for this flight was branded “Just Go! Holidays by Coach” and the plane allegedly departed from London Stansted Airport. Then, another took place on 11thApril 2012, and another on 1st May 2012

In the main centres in which many ‘failed’ asylum seekers (inclusive of many people from Pakistan)xi are held before deportation, the following types of targeting measures have been undertaken (the descriptions below do not cover the brutalisation – some would say torture - of targeted ‘Others’ that occurs whilst restrained and in transit to the airport or detention centres, and also whilst detained in detention centres) :xii

25th from Pakistan] detained at Yarl’s Wood immigration [detention centre] in Bedfordshire … which began on 5th February and involved some 84 women at the start, was sparked by detainees protesting against their prolonged detention and inhumane treatment at the hands of the Serco security guards and the immigration authorities. The hunger strikers’ demands included an end to the “physical and mental torture at the centre” and “all false allegations and misrepresentations by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) regarding detainees”; an end to the detention of children and their mothers, rape survivors and other torture victims and to the separation of children from their mothers.

Two and a half weeks on, at least 20 women are still on hunger strike, while others have stopped but are refusing to eat the “repugnant” food provided by the prison management. On the 8th February, Serco security guards tried to break up the protest by force. Some 70 women were locked in a corridor for up to 8 hours without access to food, water, toilet or medical care. Many collapsed and about 20, who tried to climb out of the windows, were beaten up and taken into isolation cells. Four of the women, singled out as ‘ringleaders’, were taken to Bedford police station and subsequently transferred to HMP Holloway in London, without being charged with any offence or brought before a judge. Testimonies by Yarl’s Wood detainees, many of whom have fled torture, rape and destitution, have revealed that racial, psychological and physical abuse had been inflicted on the hunger strikers by Serco staff. xiii

Thank you for reading this and please know that your sharing, liking and commenting on this post goes a long way in helping to give voice to the persecuted.

All proceeds from the sale of the book support the work of the BPCA.  Much of the early sales will be used to support victims of the Peshawar bomb attacks - December 2013.

Saturday 10 May 2014

MULTAN:A human rights activist and renowned lawyer of Multan, Rashid Rehman, was killed in a targeted attack in his chamber on Wednesday evening at around 8:30 evening.

Rehman and his fellow lawyer were sitting with a client in their private chamber near Kutchery Square when unknown armed gunmen entered their chamber and opened fire on them, injuring Mr Rehman and two others.

The injured men were rushed to Nishtar Hospital, Multan,where doctors pronounced Rashid Rehman dead upon arrival.  The other two wounded are still receiving treatment and are said to be in critical condition.

Rehman was representing Junaid Hafeez who had been accused of a blasphemy, and a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University who is currently facing trial on blasphemy charges.

Rehman, who was also a coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in Multan, had last month been threatened inside a courtroom in the Multan Central Jail.He had been attacked five times before Wednesday.However, he had manage to survive till now.

ASP (Assistant Superintendent Police) Cantt Ali Mardan Khosan said that he knew of the threats to Rehman, and that they were investigating the incident.

 The lawyers, who represent blasphemy accused and advocating against the misuse of blasphemy law ,are often being threatened to be killed by extremists and many have left the country to save their lives.

"On Tuesday,a Senior Christian Lawyer,Rana Latif Anwar very serious instructed me that I have to be careful because of my advocacy in blasphemy cases and particularly in the case of Asia Bibi and he also suggested me to arrange some security measures in my chamber," said Gill.

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill ,a Human Rights Defender and Chief of LEAD and its staff,who himself under threats,strongly condemns the killing of HRCP's Advocate Rashid Rehman."We also do not know when and where we  will be killed due to our human rights work in Pakistan but such deadly and threatening incidents will not make us discourage in our Human Rights Work," added Gill.

Friday 9 May 2014

MEP Jean Lambert Speaks out against Blasphemy laws and Asia Bibi's incarceration.

MEP Jan Lambert and Wilson Chowdhry Chair of the BPCA

MEP Jean Lambert, Chairperson for the European Parliament Delegations to South East Asia, Japan and India and BPCA Chairman Wilson Chowdhry met to discuss the blasphemy Law of Pakistan.  During the meeting they also discussed the failed attempts by the court system of Pakistan to hold an appeal hearing for innocent Christian victim Asia Bibi.

The BPCA organised the meeting for Saturday 3rd May after Asia's received a fourth appeal court date, which is fixed for 22nd May 2014.  Jean Lambert expressed her great sorrow for the ongoing prejudice faced by minorities in Pakistan. She explained that the European Parliament was constantly challenging Pakistan on it's blasphemy laws. Mrs Lambert said;

"At its last session in April, the European Parliament again expressed its concern at Pakistan's blasphemy laws - all too often used to settle scores or intimidate minorities, doing little to uphold the values they aim to protect ."

When asked about how the European Parliament was challenging  Pakistan to deliver on it's promises for a fair trial, in particular with regard to Asia Bibi, she said;

"The case of Asia Bibi's appeal hearing is raised in the resolution - along with a number of other cases. The Government of Pakistan must ensure that judges feel able to sit and to deliver a judgement based on law and credible evidence, not fear. Human rights are universal and indivisble: all citizens of Pakistan, whatever their belief, are entitled to justice and equality before the law. It is the responsibility of government to ensure those rights and act with compassion to those who are vulnerable - as Asia Bibi is."

Wilson Chowdhry Chairmen for the BPCA said;

"MEP Jean Lambert's visit to the BPCA and her sharing of the European Parliament's efforts towards creating a fairer society in Pakistan, is encouraging.  It demonstrates that the work of numerous humanitarian agencies, has finally highlighted the dire situations faced by previously forgotten minorities of Pakistan.  

He added;

"The European Parliament recently agreed a "Generalized System of Preference" scheme with Pakistan.  This means that trade between Europe and Pakistan for certain predetermined items, is now duty free. This will no doubt, increase trade and reciprocally prosperity in Pakistan. Eventually this agreement will place the European Parliament in a unique position of strength, by which they can lever humanitarian change in Pakistan, if they should so wish."

The Resolution can be found on the website of the European Parliament under Plenary, texts adopted 17th April 2014 (Click Here).

Learn more about the GSP Plus Scheme (Click Here)

Thursday 8 May 2014

BPCA publication on Pakistan's persecuted Minorities selling rapidly.

Stan Gain of Woodlands Christian Trust purchased our first ever copy!

Our publication "The targeting of Minorities 'Others' in Pakistan" has already received 28 orders which is a great testament to the desire for humanitarians to learn more about the diverse communities in Pakistan and the terrible suffering they face.

More importantly it justifies the committment made by the contributing writers from diverse faiths and the wonderful Professor Desmond Fernandes, who ensured this valuable comprehensive report is both fluid and cutting edge.

It is not too late to buy your own copy.  All proceeds will help the work of the BPCA, and initial sales in particular, will contribute towards our ongoing aid to the victims of the Peshawar bomb attack.

Price of book including P&P for UK, Europe, Pakistan and US.

Monday 5 May 2014

United Ecumenical Catholic Church in the UK dedicate regular Monday Mass for Pakistani Christians

Father Chris praying at our Redbridge Easter Parade.

a truly God inspired meeting with Father Chris of the Ecumenical Catholic Church in the UK at our Redbridge Easter Parade, we have maintained prayers and communication for one another.  

Father Julian, one of four clergy serving in the Portsmouth area, has been so moved by the suffering of Pakistani Christians, he has today initiated the first of many regular Masses to be offered for the persecuted church in Pakistan.  

Our regular monthly updates on the torrid situation faced by Christians will help Father Chris and Julian to focus down on the needs of our brothers and sisters in Pakistan.  

Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA said;

"Prayer is the most powerful weapon in the Christian Church and can break any stronghold.  It is thus the BPCA cherishes this regular commitment from impassioned hearts, seeking a positive change for an oppressed community."  

Father Julian informed us about the first mass today, he said;

"No time like the present - I just celebrated Mass for the intentions of the BPCA and will do so each and every Monday."

Father Chris Who spoke at our Easter Parade wrote to us in an email, which said;

Dear All,

We are proud to announce our full prayer support for British Pakistani Christian Association. As clergy members of United Ecumenical Catholic Church in UK, we have decided to remember of all matters that are important to you in our prayers. Every Monday, in our chapel in Portsmouth, Fr. Julian will celebrate a mass in your intentions. Fr. Chris will remember about all things close to your hearts during everyday morning prayer.

Let me, on this occasion, invite you to visit our website to check latest news (Click Here) and to contact us via emails (they are listed on the website).

With prayer,
Fr. Chris and Fr. Julian

Saturday 3 May 2014

Asia Bibi Appeal trial date set for fourth time.

This morning we received a text from Advocate Mushtaq Gill based in Lahore.  He has informed us that the appeal hearing for Asia Bibi has been set for a fourth time and will now be heard on 27th May 2014.  

Many of our regular readers will no doubt be sceptical of this date and concerned that once again the presiding judge will fail to attend the hearing.  That is why we ask concerned humanitarians of all faith to sign our petition below.  The petition calls for the Government to ensure that judges are made to feel safe enough to allow justice to prevail in this ongoing saga for innocent Asia.  We seek a Presidential Pardon for Asia if the judiciary is not bold enough to make a just decision. Asia has suffered the ignominy of imprisonment for five years despite worldwide affirmation of her innocence.  

If you have not yet signed our petition please click the link below to show your support;

If you have signed the petition, please do not sign it again, but encourage others to do so.

We implore those of you who care for Asia to pray for her safety throughout this turbulent time.  Already the target for extremists, she is forced to cook her own food after a number of attempts to poison her. She has remained resolute in her faith despite her situation and continues to pray every day.  if you would like to help her further by supporting our campaign (some of the funds will used for paying the travel and security costs for visits by her five children to her prison), please contribute using the following details;

If you would like to donate to our relief work our bank details are as follows:
Sort Code: 20-67-90
Account number: 63468976
Bank: Barclays
Ref:  Help for Asia Bibi

Alternatively if you would like to send a one of donation please use the pay-pal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog, or simply send a cheque made payable to the  BPCA  to our address 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG.

Here is the text message shared by Advocate Mustaq Gill (sic);

Asia Bibi’s criminal appeal number 2509/2010 ‘Mst Asia Bibi vs The State etc' and murder reference 614/2010 ‘State Vs Mst Asia Bibi wife of Ashiq’ was fixed for hearing before the Lahore High Court Division Bench,Lahore.The next date of hearing is 27 May,2014 in the DB of Mr.Justice Anwar-Ul-Haq.

Friday 2 May 2014

Excerpt from The Targeting Of 'Minority Others' in Pakistan 'Introduction'

Price of book including P&P for UK, Europe, Pakistan and US.

Chapter 1.1 Introduction by Wilson Chowdhry (Chairman BPCA)

This book- length report is one of the few collaborative efforts to highlight concerns on the treatment of minorities in Pakistan. Its wide –ranging coverage of issues pertaining to a number of different ‘Othered’ communities and groups living in Pakistan, with inputs by campaigners from varying minority groups, make it relatively unique. I felt challenged to coordinate the writing of this report as a means to highlight the ongoing persecution of minorities in Pakistan. Although the experience of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) in the field is quite small in chronological terms, we have, in recent times, become one of the most effective and recognised voices in highlighting the plight felt by so many “Others”

For many readers, this may be the first time that the full scope of the atrocities that Pakistan’s minorities face every day will have become known to you. Some of you will be horrified by the accounts represented in our research – and others will be offended. If you feel offense, let me clarify that none of the accounts are fictional and all have been verified through supporting documents and reports, both online and paper, personal evidence and official reports. We have not tried to spin a story but have grown this report organically via the information gathered by contributors from their wide experience and sources. As a group, we are not ‘Anti – Pakistani’ but have a strong passion for improving the quality of life for all citizens of Pakistan. I have been banned from Pakistan for the human rights work and protests undertaken by the BPCA, and thus, have paid for my desire to help with separation from my family living in Pakistan.

Thank you for reading this and please know that your sharing, liking and commenting on this post goes a long way in helping to give voice to the persecuted.

All proceeds from the sale of the book support the work of the BPCA.  Much of the early sales will be used to support victims of the Peshawar bomb attacks - December 2013.