Pakistani Police Violate Trust of Christian Residents
Police Assault, Steal, Demand Bribes from Christian Neighborhood
By Jawad Mazhar
12/18/08 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) - Plainclothes police entered a Christian neighborhood in Pakistan and violated their office of trust by physically abusing residents, demanding bribes, rifling through their belongings and stealing items of value.
In response, the residents staged a protest the next day at the District Police Officer's building. ICC was able to attend this protest (photo).
According to interviews with residents, police arrived in the neighborhood of "Maryam Town" on December 11th in two official vehicles from the Sargodha Police Department. They forced their way into at least two Christian residences and began smashing domestic appliances and other valuables without provocation.
The police continued their vandalism spree by confiscating cell phones, a licensed gun and other household valuables. They physically assaulted the women in these households and stole their purses, which contained cash, jewelry and pricey cosmetics.
On an even more alarming note, one resident said, "Those ruthless policemen arrested and took with them an innocent Christian youth, Imran Masih, without any allegations." He was only released after neighbors paid the officers 1,000 Pakistani Rupees (US $12.82).
When young Christian men tried to stop the policemen, residents said that the officers savagely assaulted the Christian youths with their clubs.
A crowd of Christian residents of Maryam Town responded by gathering in front of District Police Officer (DPO) Dr. Usman Anwer's office to protest the violence. Before dispersing peacefully, Christians urged the DPO Dr. Anwer to take immediate and stern action against the policemen involved.
In an interview with ICC, Anwer condemned the police officers' actions and pledged to look into the matter and bring the attackers to justice. By the time of writing he had issued directives to the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Sargodha to probe into the matter in detail and report to him as soon as possible.
Samuel Wallace, ICC's Regional Manager for South Asia, said, "This group of police officers completely violated their charge to protect the innocent and uphold law and order. To their shame, they have behaved instead like the very criminals they should be putting in jail."
Please contact the Pakistani embassy in your country and ask them to protect the rights of Christians and all religious minorities.