07/21/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On March 15, 2015, suicide bombers from the Pakistani Taliban attacked Christ Church and St. John’s Catholic Church in the predominantly Christian neighborhood of Youhanabad, located in Lahore, Pakistan.
As a result, 15 people were killed, including 11 Christians and four Muslims. Following the bombings, Christians took the streets in protest. There, Babar Noman and Hafiz Naeem, two Muslim bystanders, were wrongfully accused of participating in the bombing and were killed by the mob.
In response, Pakistani authorities conducted mass arrests in Youhanabad. Christian men suspected of participating in the March 15 protests were arrested. Reports of abuse and torture circulated during the weeks that followed among Youhanabad’s Christian community.
In 2016, the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Lahore indicted 42 Christians for their alleged participation in the protests and the killing of Noman and Naeem. All were remanded to judicial custody in poor living conditions reported by the families. In custody, two Christians died as a result of poor living conditions.
The ATC in Lahore acquitted and ordered the release of 42 Christians accused of participating in the Youhanabad protests in January 2020. This verdict was reached after settlements were agreed upon with the families of two Muslim men who were wrongfully killed by the protesters.
Amjad Masih, one of the Youhanabad prisoners who was released, received aid from different churches and NGOs to purchase an auto-rickshaw that he could use to earn a living.
On July 7, three people standing at the Youhanabad bus stand hired Masih to drive them to another neighborhood in Lahore. However, these men were carrying guns and force Masih to take them to the nearest agricultural fields. There, they bound Masih with rope, abused him, and beat him.
During the attack, the armed men reportedly told Masih, “You are the first out of 40. We will not leave any of you!”
According to Masih, the armed men beat him, choked him with a rope, and urinated on his face as a gesture of hatred. As a result of the attack, Masih eyes are injured. Masih’s auto-rickshaw, mobile phone, cash, and national id were also stolen by the attackers.
After the attack, Masih managed to get help at a nearby fruit stall. He reported the attack to police, however, little action has been taken by authorities.
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