Experts from the U.S., U.K. and Pakistan will discuss crisis
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2015 — International Christian Concern (ICC) will host a news conference at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 14 at the National Press Club on the rising incidents of violence and discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan.
Speakers will include Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, a member of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords and the most recent chair of the All Parliamentary Group for International Religious Freedom and Belief; Naeem Shakir, High Court Lawyer of Pakistan and the appellate level attorney for Asia Bibi; T. Kumar, Director of International Advocacy for Amnesty International; and Jeff King, president of ICC. Several members of Congress, including Senator Marco Rubio, have been invited to attend.
On March 15, two suicide bombers attacked Sunday morning church services in Lahore, killing 14 Christians and wounding nearly 80. The bombing was the latest in a long string of violent incidents against religious minorities in Pakistan, dating back nearly two decades.
The speakers at the news conference have campaigned on behalf of Pakistani religious minorities at every level, from the top tiers of government to the court rooms of Lahore.
“Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed violence against religious minorities in Pakistan on a level previously unimaginable,” ICC Advocacy Director Isaac Six said. “Churches are bombed, entire communities are burned to the ground, Christians are sentenced to death, and those bold enough to defend them are shot in the streets. The sad fact is that there is so much more we can do, both to aid those who face this violence and to challenge the government which allows it to take place.”
The news conference will also address the abuse of Pakistan’s so-called “blasphemy laws,” which human rights groups say are consistently misapplied to suppress religious minority groups.
Four Christians, including mother of five Asia Bibi, have been convicted of blasphemy despite little evidence and have been sentenced to death by hanging. Although Pakistan has yet to execute a member of a religious minority for blasphemy, on March 3 Pakistani officials announced the lifting of a seven-year moratorium on capital punishment cases, resulting in many outside observers to fear that the door for executing religious minorities on charges of blasphemy had been opened.
Speakers at the news conference also will make recommendations on how the United States, the United Kingdom and other Western governments can address these issues.
Note to Editors: To RSVP for the news conference or to request an interview, please contact Jennifer Salcido of International Christian Concern at 301.585.5915 or Advocacy.firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington D.C. based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.