Saturday, 21 February 2015

Three Dacoits loot Church Worth more than Two million on gunpoint

KASUR: Three armed dacoits entered into a Our Lady of Queen of Angels Church located at Multan Road, Bhai Pheru District Kasur and made the Church staff hostage including Rev. Fr. Ijaz Bashir assistant Priest on Thursday about 09:00 am.The Church officials said that the dacoits have looted about worth of two million Pakistani Rupees million and took away  Mobiles , cameras and seven Silver Crown with them.

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,Human Rights Defender was informed by the Church staff and immediately reached the scene and assisted the Church in lodging police complaint.The FIR No.48/2015 has been registered under section 392 PPC at City police station Bhai Pheru against the three unknown dacoits.The fingerprints also has been taken and the Concerned DSP Pattoki made assured to arrest the culprits within a few days. “We have started the investigation and soon we will be able to arrest the culprits,” he said. 

Rev. Fr. Leopold Evans OFM Cap who is missionary from Belgium and serving in this parish from last more than 26 years,was fell ill and admitted in doctor hospital two weeks ago where  now he is  fighting for life.He told that there were Eleven thousand Euros which also the dacoits took away with them.

Gill met with other staff and sisters of the Church,Sr.sister Marriam Hakam told that they had trust in God and they did not know who could be the instrument in the hands of culprits to do such incidents.She further added that there was not any satisfactory security arrangements but she looked satisfied from Government's initiative regarding counter terrorism.
“The dacoity looks similar to the way which was used in previous robbery in which Rev. Fr. Leopold forgave the dacoits after their arrest ,” Catechist Shahbaz Anjum said. He added that the dacoits came to pretend to get admission in School for children.he further added that if this robbery happened in Broad-day then act of terrorism could be happened anytime because of lack of security arrangements. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The family of gang-rape victim girls are under pressure by the suspects

JARANWALATwo minor Christian girls from Jaranwala, Punjab, Farzana aged 14 and Sehrish aged 16 were gang raped by three Muslim men.An FIR 552/14 was registered against the alleged rapists at the Lundian Wala Police Station and one of them Sajad was arrested while two of the rapists, Azeem and Shahbaz managed to run away.Ilyas Masih,father of girls, has received death threats from Azeem to withdraw the rape case.

Now, a local political figure is reportedly pressuring the Christian family to withdraw their criminal complaint against the suspects who gang-raped the two underage Christian girls.

According to the FIR ,on December 3, 2014, three men abducted the Christian girls from outside their home and held them all night subjecting them to repeated rape and torture while their father, Ilyas Masih, searched for them in vain until the distraught girls returned home in the morning.
According to local Pastor,on February 10th ,2015 two men on motorbike stopped outside girls home and shot fire at outside of their home  to frighten them.The men shouted out that they were the relatives of the boys who raped your girls and that the Girls destined to be raped as they were unwanted Christians in Muslim lands. The twelve years old younger brother of Sehrish and Farzana attempted his home to see what was happening. The gun men aimed and shot at him several times fortunately he escaped unhurt by taking refuge in their home. 

Later on,the victim family had sought refuge at the local Pastor’s home.Too scared to venture outside fearing for their life Sehrish the victim said “I am too afraid to go back home.This was once my own community but all I have now is bad memories." Shahbaz and his three accomplices had previously been accused of rape by another Christian family in the village the family subsequently compromised on a settlement after being pressured by influential people in the village to drop the case.

Unfortunately the incidents of rape and forced conversions are on the rise.A large number of Christian families have fled or sought asylum fearing for their lives in other countries.

We at LEAD demand from government to give protection to the gang-rape victim family and punish to the alleged rapists.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

IHC has reserved the final verdict in Qadri's appeal against death conviction

ISLAMABAD:The Islamabad High Court's division bench, comprising of Mr.Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and Mr.Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi, reserved a verdict on murder appeal of Mumtaz Qadri,the self-confessed killer of Salman Taseer former Governor of Punjab against his death conviction after hearing the arguments of councils from the both sides.

During the arguments, Qadri's counsel pleaded that Pakistan is a Muslim country and it is not a western or a secular nation.He gave references from Islamic history in which the blasphemers were killed for making derogatory remarks against Prophet of Islam and their act was endorsed and appreciated by Prophet of Islam.He said his client  killed Taseer because he opposed blasphemy law and pointed it as black law.He further pleaded that the matter between individual and the state would be referred to the Quran and he contended that the matter involves religion and it should be referred to Federal Shariah Court.
Advocate General Mian Abdul Rauf, who was representing the federal government, argued that extrajudicial killing is against the constitution and law and Qadri’s crime was known to all and hence the court should dismiss his appeal.

Justice Shaukat remarked whether to say  blasphemy law as a black law and its opposing would come under the domain of blasphemy.He further added that nothing at all  could justify the murder of the victim hence after hearing the arguments the Court reserved the verdict against Qadri's appeal.

In November 2010,Asia Bibi,a Christian mother,was convicted under section 295 C PPC and sentenced to death.Since from the accusation to death conviction,she is languishing in jail. Two high-profile politicians ,Taseer and minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti were killed in 2011 after advocating for reforms to the blasphemy law. 
Reportedly,Punjab Prosecution Department  has short-listed 50 cases of blasphemy and debarred Christians from the list.The government says these are the cases by which the alleged blasphemers have been victimized by the complainants. Several Christians are languishing in jails in false blasphemy accusations and in this selection is an apparent discrimination with Christians.

Blasphemy law is an extremely sensitive issue in Pakistan where 96 per cent of the population is Muslim and uncertain claims regularly lead to mob violence and the rights campaigners threatened and killed by the hands of extremists.Last year,Rashid Rehman was killed who was representing to a alleged blasphemy accused after getting life threats from extremists and the supporters of the blasphemy law burned alive a Christian couple after making a false allegation of blasphemy of Quran.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Qadri's appeal hearing in Taseer's murder case,the court re-issue notices to Taseer's legal heirs

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court has today Tuesday, 3 February, 2015 heard Qadri's appeal petition, the killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer, against his death sentence which was given in 2011 by the Anti Terrorism Court of Islamabad. A two-member bench of comprising Justice Noor-Ul-Haq Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui re-issued a notice to Taseer's legal heirs.

More than 50 lawyers, including former chief justice of Lahore High Court Khawaja Sharif the main leading counsel of Qadri's appeal case, were present in the court for his defense. 

Reportedly, the important records related to the Salman Taseer murder case mysteriously disappeared from the office of the attorney general in the Islamabad High Court after the appeal of Mumtaz Qadri was fixed for hearing last week.

The IHC during last hearing of the case granted one-week time to the prosecutors for arguments against Qadri‘s appeal and adjourned the hearing of the case till today,3 February.

Lahore High Court confirmed the death sentence of Asia Bibi on 16 October, 2014, who is languishing in jail since 2009 after given death sentence. She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim co-workers women objected, saying that as a Christian she was impure to touch the water bowl. Now her final appeal is pending in Supreme Court of Pakistan.

It was the factor in the 2011 assassination of Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab Province because he vehemently campaigned for Bibi’s release and for reexamine of the blasphemy law. Religious extremists were outraged by Taseer’s voice for Christian woman, and he was shot dead by his own police security guard in Islamabad.  

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill said, “It is an obscene law and it is being used as a tool of persecution and to settle other scores that are nothing to do with religion."
"It makes religious minorities particularly vulnerable because it's often used against them”, he added.

Gill said if Qadri's appeal would be accepted and he would be released then the risk of attacks on victims of blasphemy law and their campaigners particularly would be increased.

Pakistani Christians feel subjugation in the presence of blasphemy law because no one's life is secure in the country until these laws are on books.Last year in November a Christian Couple was burned alive after leveling a false allegation of burning some Quranic papers.

We at LEAD request you all human rights organizations and Defenders to raise your voice against the misuse of blasphemy law and those elements who extend life threats towards the rights campaigners and who advocate the victims of these laws. 

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Muslim illegally seize and bulldoze homes of Christian families

KASUR: The influential Muslim men seized and bulldozed homes of seven Christian families in a village of Kasur.

Today, a local native Boota Masih reached to Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill , Human Rights Defender and head of LEAD and asked for legal help and assistance for the affected families whose homes were bulldozed and destroyed by local Muslim men namely Shahid Khan , Jaffar Ali , Zafar Iqbal and Munir Bhatti after getting fake documents with the help of Local Patwari.

The land grabbers have destroyed and occupied the homes of Rafique Masih, Shangara Masih , Farzana Bibi , Iruma Bibi (Widow) , Bagh Masih , William Masih , Samar Masih and Gama Bibi (widow) by threatening to kill them and make them involved in criminal cases. They forcibly threw out families' belongings on road . This sad incident happened in a Village Rao Khan Wala,Kasur. They gave the affected Christian families one option to take back their homes and land if they convert to Islam.These affected families are in danger and now residing in the open sky in this sever cold.The other neighbors are also afraid about their homes after the threats extended towards them also of same kind of happening. 

Muslims have made several attempts to seize the land from the Christians, usually in victory because Christians are a marginalized minority while Muslims carry out illegal activities with impunity and official blessing.There are countless cases of land grabbing but this is a new  incident of land grabbing from Christians, there are many cases and incidents of such happening and this kind of persecution is making  Pakistani Christians poorer day by day.

Mostly when influential majority see that the land of Christians become costly in value being located at brink of any road or among market then they start to find a way of grabbing the land of poor Christians and if they find any legal loop in the ownership,then there is no way which can stop them to grab it.
Land grabbing is of particular relevance to LEAD, as it has made significant progress in representing poor who have been deprived of their ancestral lands by the government or by the influential Muslims.Poverty is the main weakness of Pakistani Christians and due to this weakness the influential Muslim get edge to grab their costly land.Our LEAD team take life risk to support poor in such kind of land grabbing cases.   

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters attack Bannu Christian School

BANU: While a series of protests is going on in the whole country, in Banu city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hundreds of students too protesting against a French magazine for publishing caricatures of the Prophet of Islam stormed a Christian boys’ school demanding its closure and reportedly four students hurt as protesters damage property, smash windows.

According to School Principal,a group of more than 300  protesting students entered Pannell High School after climbing on  its outer walls and forcibly opened the main gates.

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,Human Rights Defender said that hurting peaceful Pakistani Christians would be hurting Pakistan, as they are as much patriotic as anyone else, despite all such attacks on them.They are tolerant inspite of being labor class,poor and marginalized but non violent.They respect every faith and every Holy personality of any religion that's why the person who belongs to any faith and religion feel comfortable to live among them.We should not consider this incident to be an anti-Christian attack but such elements who try to create anti-Christian atmosphere should also be condemned and be punished.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Murder case of Salman Taseer

ISLAMABAD: Today Islamabad High Court has held its first hearing in the appeal against the death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri who confessed the killing of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and he justified the governor’s murder by stating that he had killed him for supporting Asia Bibi, a Christian woman whom Taseer believed had been wrongly convicted of committing blasphemy. The appeal was heard by two-members of division bench of IHC’s comprising of Justice Noor ul Haq Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui and adjourned for 3 February.

Mumtaz Qadri, a constable in the Punjab Police and member of its elite force, had filed an appeal before the court on 6 October, 2011, challenging the death sentence awarded by Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Rawalpindi Judge Syed Pervez Ali Shah on 1 October, 2011. The judge was later forced to flee the country after receiving death threats.

In whole country, protesters from Sunni Tehrik chant slogans in favor of Mumtaz Qadri's release and warn to Government for dire consequences by wall chalking, play cards and banners in streets. He is considered "hero" of Islam by Sunni Tehrik. Reportedly, hundreds of Sunni Tehrik and Shabab-e-Milli Tehrik were present outside the court and chanted slogans in favors of Mumtaz Qadri.  Chairman Sunni Tehrik Dr. Zafar Iqbal Jalali was leading the rally. 

Reportedly strict security arrangements were made and the road to High court was blocked with barricades and a large number of police and special force personnel were deployed at buildings in the surrounding areas.

Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill, Human Rights Defender and head of LEAD said that the human Rights Defenders had had great concern on this appeal case of Qadri because if Qadri would be acquitted from Salman murder case then the fear of insecurity of life would be increased among them. The fueling to religious intolerance and violence will be stopped by condemning such elements of society who take law in their hands to harass peace workers.

The blasphemy law is being misused against religious minorities for personal vendetta and to harass them. The Pakistani Church is under constant fear of attack from religious extremists and resultantly it has deliberately stopped to enjoy religious freedom and liberty. We have to take steps to promote religious freedom and liberty; and to discourage violence in the name of religion.Our request to remeber Asia Bibi in your prayers who is languishing in jail since 2009 in a false allegation of blasphemy.