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Pakistani Officials Free Eight Christians Detained by Their Employer

Washington, D.C. (May 10, 2010)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on May 7, a Pakistani court ordered the release of eight Christian brick kiln laborers after they were illegally detained by their employer in Khushab, Pakistan.

Noman Bhatti, Salman Nabeel, Sharoon Bhatti, Haroon, Ishtiaq Masih, Razzaq Masih, Saleem Masih and Nadeem Masih were allegedly detained by Muhammad Ramzan. While detained, Ramzan allegedly forced the Christians to work as bonded laborers to repay their debts.

Medical check-up revealed that the Christians suffered minor injuries during their detention.

Mushtaq Gill, head of Democratic Minorities Alliance, told ICC that he filed a habeas corpus petition before the district and session judge to ask for the release of the Christians. The court then appointed a bailiff who raided the kiln and found the detained Christians.

The police have arrested Ramzan. The court ordered the police to register a case against Ramzan for forced labor and illegal detention. The court also directed the kiln owner to file a recovery suit to solve the money dispute.

Brick kiln workers in Pakistan live in slave-like conditions and are routinely mistreated by their employers. Many Christian brick kiln workers have in the past been illegally detained by their Muslim employers.

ICC’s Regional Manager for South Asia, Jonathan Racho, said “We welcome the actions of Pakistan authorities in freeing the detained Christians and arresting the alleged perpetrator of this heinous crime against the Christians. We urge Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the inhumane treatment of the Christian brick kiln workers and properly punish Ramzan for his crime.”