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Wake-Up Calls to Pakistani Government Go Unheeded With Deadly Results

ICC Note

Pakistani officials repeatedly failed to heed the call to end persecution against Christians. The failure of the Pakistani government is causing more violence.

09/17/2009 Pakistan(Christian Newswire)-In the shocking light of the horrific police torture and falsely alleged “suicide” in police custody of a falsely accused Pakistani Christian, Fanish Robert, this past week in the Punjab Province of Pakistan, Advocates International and the Jubilee Campaign USA again join many other in the international community urging Pakistan to end the impunity, police brutality and religious persecution caused by its blasphemy laws by immediately suspending all blasphemy arrests and prosecutions and abolishing its unjust blasphemy laws.

On September 15, 2009, The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan declared the “judicial murder” of Fanish Robert by police whom the organization said engaged in a “torture killing” of the young man. Arrested by police on September 12, accusers claimed Fanish Robert had committed blasphemy and announced their intention to teach the local Christian community “a lesson.” A mob damaged the church, set it on fire and then pillaged two homes near the church.

Advocates International’s General Counsel, Sam Casey, said: “Police justify arresting persons accused of blasphemy claiming to protect him or her. However, clearly visible in photographs of Fanish Robert taken at the morgue show clear signs of torture, and not strangulation as the police are claiming was self-inflicted. Jubilee Campaign and Advocates International condemn the police torture and the murder of Fanish Robert. Jubilee Campaign’s General Counsel, Ann Buwalda, said: “While it is our hope and commitment to work with the Pakistani government and the civil society and legal organizations on the ground in the hard work of preserving the rule of law while protecting the religious liberties of all Pakistanis, this work cannot successfully proceed until justice is done in this tragic, but all too common case.”

In his report describing the blasphemy allegation motivated attack which began on September 11, 2009, on a Christian church in the village Jatheki Tehsi Samberial of Sialkot District of Punjab Province, the well-respected Pakistani human rights defender, Joseph Francis, who works with AI and Jubilee Campaign in Pakstan stated: “Very obviously and clearly it is in the notice of police and police officials that the extremist religious organizations are linked to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and were behind the carnage and killing in Korian and Gojra. But they have failed to motivate the Punjab government to take a strong action against these organizations and their sympathizers. One can only hope that these wake-up calls, one after the other, will convince the government in Pakistan to repeal the blasphemy laws and to build a culture of tolerance and maintain safety and security of the religious minority in Pakistan .” Without the intervention of Joseph Francis and other Christian leaders in this village, additional lives would have been lost.

Advocates International’s President, Sam Ericsson, said: “History teaches us that blasphemy laws never achieve their intended purpose and only lead to the injury and corruption of their proponents, social unrest, and the unjust oppression of religious minorities against whom they are directed. Under the current horrific circumstances, we ask that the government of Pakistan suspend or dismiss all pending blasphemy law prosecutions, and abolish the blasphemy law, a root cause of the false allegations which stir up the sentiments of the community. We also ask the government of Pakistan to fully investigate prosecute all those who have harmed, tortured or murdered innocent villagers and those responsible for inciting the violence and destruction of homes, including the police responsible for Fanish Robert’s death. All such investigations and judicial inquiry reports must be transparent and made publicly available to have any credibility at all. We ask that all the injured receive proper medical care and lost property compensation. For the sake of everyone in Pakistan, we call upon the government of Pakistan to at last go beyond merely celebrating ‘Minorities Day’ to actually prevent future violence targeted at Christian and other minority groups, including those subject to charges of blasphemy.”

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