ICC Documents 43 Cases of Persecution Against Pakistani Christians in Three Months
By ICC’s Pakistan Correspondent
10/25/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – On September 27, Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, made lofty claims about protecting religious minorities as he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. Back home, however, as these claims were being made, Pakistan’s Christian community was protesting against the Prime Minister’s government after it announced its intention to nationalize Edward’s College in Peshawar, a century-old Christian education institution.
In the midst of these protests, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Institute of Development Research and Corresponding Capabilities released a report highlighting the widespread discrimination facing non-Muslims in Pakistan’s education institutions. According to that report, 60% of non-Muslim students experienced discrimination and disrespect because of their faith. The report went on to say that 70% of non-Muslim teachers faced discrimination and 72% of parents reported that their children experienced discrimination based on their faith.
While this report and the protests paint a grim picture for religious minorities in Pakistan, the suffering endured by the country’s Christian community continued. Between July and September, International Christian Concern (ICC) documented 43 cases of persecution. These cases included kidnappings, rapes, forced conversions to Islam, discrimination, and several religiously motivated murders.
In early September, 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 of 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 Services Hospital only a couple of hours after he was taken there by his family.
“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 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 other officers involved are still at large.
In another case documented by ICC, Faiza Mukhtar, a Christian teenager and a student at the government girls’ primary school in Khanqah Dogran, located in Sheikhupura district, was kidnapped and fraudulently converted to Islam by her school’s principal.
On September 4, Faiza was forcefully taken from her school and brought to an Islamic seminary. The principal claimed, “The Christian girl has learned to read and write the Arabic language; therefore, she is no more a Christian and must live the rest of her life as a Muslim.”
In a video posted to Facebook, Faiza’s mother claimed, “On that day, my two daughters went to school, but only one returned home. When we went to the school in search of Faiza, the principal revealed that Faiza had converted to Islam and therefore, we had no right to meet her. It was heartbreaking for me.”
“Instead of returning our daughter, the principal asked all of us to convert to Islam,” Faiza’s mother continued. “She offered us a luxurious life and that she will bear the entire expenses of the family and we will have access to Faiza if we converted.”
Faiza’s mother claimed that the police did not cooperate with her family and refused to register a case against the principal for kidnapping and fraudulently converting their daughter.
Including these two cases, ICC documented 43 cases of persecution against Pakistani Christians between July and September. This included the abductions and forced conversions of seven Christians girls, another seven cases where Christian women were targeted for sexual assault, five cases where Christians were denied their religious freedom rights, seven cases of Christians being physically tortured, six religiously motivated murders, and 11 cases of discrimination.
For Pakistan’s Christians, discrimination and persecution are quickly becoming the norm. Instead of making lofty claims to international bodies, Pakistan must take real action at home to curb instances of persecution and secure the rights of the religious minority communities that call Pakistan home.