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Christian Graveyard Demolished for Shopping Mall in Pakistan

You are free to disseminate the following news. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address Contact Samuel Wallace, Regional Manager for South Asia, Europe, and Latin America, 1-800-ICC (422)-5441,

(December 12, 2008) The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has just learned that Christians held a rally for a second day on December 10 to protest the desecration of 50 Christian graves in Khurrarianwala, a city in Pakistan’s province of Punjab. A large Christian crowd blocked a major road with burning tires, chanted slogans against the local Land Requisition Department and carried banners expressing their pain and anger over the demolition of the graves of their ancestors.

Chaudhary Saleem Masih, an elder in the local Christian community, told ICC that some powerful and influential local Muslim landlords had demolished and desecrated the graves of their ancestors on December 6. Muslim developers who want to build a shopping mall on a portion of the graveyard bypassed local regulations and began digging up graves, exposing bones and cutting down trees to prepare the site for construction.

In response, Masih joined with two pastors and a member of his town council to rally a group of 300 Christians in protest.

Mr. Shamaoun Bhatti, a member of the Jarranwala Town Council, said that this land was designated as a Christian graveyard by the British Government before the Indo-Pakistan partition in 1947. However, Bhatti claimed that Muslim landlords are being assisted by officers of the Land Requisition Department to take over more of the Christian graveyard. Bhatti also said that he had informed the local police about the illegal possession but received no response.

The two pastors, Rev. Mehboob Alam and Rev. Pervez Masih, said that Christian protestors blocked the Jarranwala-Khurrarianwala road for four hours with burning tires. The crowd carried banners demanding recovery of the land from the illegal occupants.

Both pastors said that the Christian mob shouted chants against the injustice of the local police and the corruption of the Land Requisition Department in favoring the Muslim landlords. During the protest Christians appealed to the Pakistani Premier Yousaf Raza Gillani to look into the matter immediately and ensure that justice is served to the Christians.

The Assistant Commissioner (AC) of Jarranwala addressed the demonstrators and pledged to provide justice to the Christians. He also summoned the officials of the Land Requisition Department to present the complete land record of the Christian graveyard to his office.

When asked by ICC, Muslim landlords denied the allegations and said that they had neither demolished nor occupied any part of the Christian graveyard.

Mr. Ferhan Mazhar, chairman of the human rights group Rays of Development, condemned the unlawful occupation and said that by denying the allegations the Muslim landlords were lying to the media and the local government. He said, “I have myself visited the graveyard and seen the unlawful occupation and shopping mall under construction there.”

Please contact the Pakistani embassy in your country and ask them to protect the rights of Christians and all religious minorities.

Pakistan Embassies:

USA: (202) 243-6500,

Canada: (613) 238-7881,

UK: 0870-005-6967,

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ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.