Gojra Christians want justice, not aid
Christians in Gojra, Pakistan, are angry at accused perpetrators release
10/21/09 Pakistan (CLAAS)–Christians in Gojra have refused to accept US aid and have instead demanded that the perpetrators of recent attacks against them be brought to justice. Staff members from the US Consulate in Lahore were shocked when on October 5 the
Christians threw the relief packs down in anger and exasperation at the bail release of the main suspect in the August attacks, Qadir Awan.
Christians were reportedly coerced by police into making peace with the Muslims responsible for the attacks in a meeting on October 4. The suspects present included Awan, who was supposed to be behind bars in police custody at the time.
The Christians say they were also pressured into accepting Awan’s bail, leading to his release the following day. They allege that police took some Christians to the police station and tortured them in order to pressure the Christians into accepting such a compromise.
The Christians told the US Consulate staff that they did not need aid but justice, and that they would be grateful for their help in achieving this. They also spoke of their strong desire to see Awan arrested.
Police reportedly started beating the Christians for refusing to take the packages and demanding Awan’s arrest, and arrested some of them on the spot. Two women were reportedly seriously injured when the police beat them with the butts of their guns. Razia Bibi reportedly sustained a serious head injury, while Shamim Bibi’s ribcage was injured.
When they were taken to a local hospital, Christians say the police refused to allow the doctors to examine them, forcing them to take the women to another hospital in Toba Take Sing for treatment. Both women have since been discharged from the hospital and say they forgive the police for their violent actions.