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ICC Note:

Christians living outside of Faisalabad have been left homeless for about a year after government workers demolished their homes. According to Christian residents, local Muslim leaders were upset with the presence of Christians and convinced local authorities that the Christian neighborhood was illegally built. With little investigation, the government authorities demolished the neighborhood, leaving many Christians homeless. Now, one year later, these Christians remain homeless and desperate. 

2/19/2015 Pakistan (Asia News) – “We have lived here for 25 years, since the then (martyred) Bishop John Joseph gave us this land, from a government tender. Then, one day, the Samundari municipal government suddenly demolished our houses, without warning us,” said Fazal Masih, a local Christian elder who had his own home torn down. The town is located in Faisalabad District, Punjab province.

Speaking to Asia News, he said, “For months, we have been forced to live in some makeshift shelters on land “owned by local Muslims” and “their relatives”. During this period, “Part of our group has been forced to live in tents, and our relatives have received threats from Muslim neighbors.”

For dozens of Christian families in Samundari, this is a desperate situation. For years, they lived in the town, in 72 houses. In recent years, 13 additional houses were built near a local government hospital that was never used, except as a barn and an animal shelter.

Asghar Ali Jutt, a local Muslim landowner, has always held a deep hatred towards Christians because of their faith.

On several occasions, he has insulted and attacked the local community, threatening to destroy their homes.

Finally, he went to the city administration, claiming that the Christian houses were illegal and had to be torn down.

Following his appeal, the authorities destroyed the houses last year during the period of Lent, without warning the residents.

Speaking to Asia News, Nusrat Bibi, one of the residents of the demolished houses, said that some of things he owned had been stolen.

“We are forced to live with relatives,” he explained, “and to work in the fields owned by Muslims without pay. We are still victims of threats and harassment by Muslims.”

After the destruction of the houses, “we no longer even have toilets or latrines.” For this reason, “we want our homes rebuilt so that we can live with respect and dignity”.

On Monday, Christian leader Robin Daniel, and a representative of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK) visited the area to assess personally the situation and show solidarity to the victims. Both described the actions by the local government as “barbaric behavior” vis-à-vis “the poor Christians,” who have been homeless for the past year.

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