Four Cases of Police Abuse Documented in Two Weeks in Pakistan
By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent
10/01/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has documented four cases of police torture, harassment, and discrimination against Pakistani Christians over just two weeks in late August and early September. In the most disturbing case, police brutally tortured a Christian man for four days. This abuse ultimately resulted in the Christian’s death.
In that case, police tortured to death Amir Masih, a 28-year-old Christian gardener in Lahore. Sunny Masih, Amir’s brother, told ICC, “Amir was a father of two kids, one of them just born when Amir was tortured to death by police in custody.”
Amir was arrested by police on August 28 after he was falsely accused stealing over 3,500,000 PKR ($22,200 USD) from the house of Rana Hanif, a Muslim resident in PAF Colony of Lahore. According to Amir’s family, the police then tortured Amir for the next four days, seeking to extract a false confession.
On September 2, police contacted Amir’s family and told them that Amir was not well. The police then instructed the family to take Amir to the hospital. Covered in the marks of extreme torture, including bruises and burns from electric shocks, Amir died at the hospital only a few hours later.
“My son was ‘kidnapped’ by police and they tortured him to death. We approached the police officers to recover Amir; however, they did not extend any support to us and only handed over Amir when he was almost dead,” Iqbal Masih, Amir’s father explained to ICC.
“One of the policemen reportedly abused Amir stating, ‘These Chooras [an insulting term used against Christians in Pakistan] should not be trusted. I know how to deal with these infidels,’” Sunny told ICC.
“Amir told me that he had not done anything wrong and had not stolen money. He said that the police had tortured him awfully,” Sunny told ICC.
The authorities have registered First Information Report (FIR) # 1720/19 against the policemen involved in torturing Amir and have also arrested the Station House Officer who oversees the police station. However, three others officers involved are still at large.
In another case of police abuse, five police constables illegally raided the home of a Christian family in Sialkot, located in Pakistan’s Punjab province, on August 31. The constables then publicly abused five members of the family.
According to local reports, a female member of the Christian family had previously rejected the romantic advances of one of the police constables involved in the case. In revenge, the constable falsely accused the girl’s brother of theft and used the accusations as a pretext to raid the home.
In the course of the raid, the police constables beat and humiliated five female members of the Christian family. They then dragged the women into the streets and took them to the police station.
The situation quickly went viral on Facebook and reports of the incident were disseminated to the local press. In response, the local Christian community staged protests and blocked the roads near the police station. Soon after, the police constables gave into the mounting pressure and released the women.
According to local media reports, the five constables have been suspended following the investigations and a case has been registered against them under FIR # 328/19.
On September 2, Shan Masih, a hairdresser, received a call from a police officer requesting his whereabouts. Unaware of any issue, Shan informed the officer of his location as requested.
With this information, the officer tracked down Shan and accused him of selling drugs. The accusation against Shan was recorded in FIR # 1104/19. Shan was then arrested and reportedly tortured at the police station by officers. Despite this abuse, Shan maintains his innocence and denies any involvement in the crimes of which he is accused.
On August 25, police beat Rahat Bibi and her teenage daughter in Wazirabad, a neighborhood in Gujranwala district, located north of Lahore. The police falsely accused Shahid Masih, Rahat’s husband, of selling alcohol, as documented in FIR # 424/19, and raided the family’s home.
When the police discovered Shahid was not present, they attacked Rahat and her daughter. Police reportedly beat Rahat and her daughter before dragging them down the street to the local police station.
Prior to the raid, police officers reportedly blocked the main doors of the other Christian homes on the street to stop any interference by other residents. When local Christians protested against the brutality, police demanded 50,000 PKR ($318 USD) to let the Christian women go free.
According to local reports, Officer Imtiaz, a police official involved in the raid, held a grudge against Shahid Masih and, therefore, targeted his family.
Across Pakistan, Christians experience widespread discrimination and persecution. As the four cases documented show, Pakistan’s police force is not immune to the religious intolerance that fuels this discrimination and persecution. More must be done to protect the rights of Pakistani Christians and ensure their security. Positive steps must especially be taken by those charged with protecting the security of all Pakistani citizens, including Christians.