Rescue Christians Report: What our Donors’ money is doing in Pakistan
Our partners in Pakistan with resources provided by Rescue Christians through the generosity of their donor base are helping and supporting the victims of Persecution in Pakistan. Our partners on the ground in Pakistan are working against the social, Constitutional and religious discrimination of Christians and other Religious Minorities in Pakistan. Blasphemy laws, forced conversion, rape and abduction are at a very high level in Pakistani society. We provide legal assistance and safe houses for the victims of religious persecution in Pakistan.
The primary obligation of our partners on the ground is to be there for people affected by natural and man-made disasters, whether it is the flood of 2010 or the Internally Displacement Persons (IDPs) in 2009, with the help of their volunteers and resources mobilized locally, through health care services to the victims through Mobile Health Units in N.W.F.P (present Khayber Pakhtoon Khawa). They have provided health care services to Internally Displaced People (IDPs) for six consecutive weeks, through mobile healthcare units at different places, across Swabi. Our Partners did much work in the flood of 2010, which was the largest water disaster ever in the history of Pakistan. The volunteers and staff members reached the flooded areas where vehicles could not go. They worked many days and nights for the victims of the flood in the Sindh – and Punjab Pakistan, amongst the Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities. They also helped local churches in Sindh to repair and re-construct churches and schools, which were destroyed by the flood.
Religious Persecution in Pakistan:
Christians and other religious minorities are being falsely accused daily by those who use the Islamic blasphemy law as a weapon of intimidation. Rape and abduction with forcible conversion to Islam is at the highest levels in Pakistan. The evidence of Islam’s hostility towards Christians is overwhelming, with very limited attention given to it in the International community. There are many persecution web sites exposing this modern Holocaust within the Islamic world but very little exposure in the mainstream media. Christians have become the most oppressed class in Pakistan.
Religious Persecution became prevalent when Military Ruler Zia-Ul-Haq made the 8th Amendment in the Pakistani constitution; this Amendment has opened the doors of religious terrorism in Pakistan. As this foundation was being established, the Christian community only became alert when the Christians were first arrested under blasphemy laws in Pakistan in 1990.
In 2002, Christian persecution in Pakistan became rampant when dozens were arrested and a few were sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws. That year marked a dark year in history of Pakistan, when churches were attacked by the hands of Muslim militant groups, killing over 50 innocent Christians. Similarly, many incidents took place in different parts of Pakistan which ignited great fear in the Christian community. 2009 was undoubtedly another very bad year for the persecuted Christians of Pakistan. More often than not, the attacks, arrests, detentions and murder of 130 Christians can be traced back to the blasphemy laws. Although other religious minorities have suffered their fair share of false blasphemy claims, the wave of “blasphemy hysteria” in the last year has been leveled at Christians more than any other minority community. Muslim radicals have attacked Bhamaniwala, Korian and Gojra in which they looted and vandalized hundreds of Christian houses. Similarly, 2012 also became one of the worst years of Christian Persecution against the Religious Minorities in Pakistan, when hundreds of Christians and Hindu girls were abducted, raped, and forcibly converted to Islam. This high level of persecution forced Hindus to flee from Pakistan.
Large numbers of Hindu Families escaped from Pakistan to protect their wives and daughters. Before these Hindus were allowed to cross the Indo-Pak border, they shared their woes with the Pakistani media. They said that “their shops were looted, their houses were raided by unknown men and their women were forcibly converted to Islam in the province of Sindh.” The same Hindus held a protest after which the Pakistani government allowed them to cross over into India the next day. This embarrassing news made the Sindh Chief Minister and President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari take notice.
A presidential inquiry committee was set up to end the dilemma of Hindus. In 2009, the Pakistani government also set up a judicial commission to inquire about the Gojra attacks in which dozens of Christian homes were set alight and eight Christians were murdered. The judicial report identified responsible elements and also suggested amendments in the blasphemy laws.
Unfortunately, to this day, no attention has been paid to the judicial commission’s recommendations and the blasphemy laws remain. In August 2012, one mentally handicapped Christian girl named Rimsha Masih was falsely accused under the controversial Blasphemy law. When she was arrested, Christian families had to flee to save their lives from the Muslims of the neighborhood. Many of them were beaten by the mob on the day this incident happened. An angry mob had planned to set their house on fire, so they quickly ran for their lives and abandoned their homes. Many of the families took shelter in different Churches and community centers and some of them found security in the forest in Sector G-9/4. Several weeks after the Rimsha Masih’s bail, another Christian Boy Ryan Stanton was falsely accused under the Blasphemy law, which called for his death.
According to our partners’ Mission and vision, they make every effort to equip and strengthen the oppressed, to develop them morally, physically, socially and spiritually. They help the innocent victims of the discrimination and provide education, medical facilities, as well as give them basic human rights. We fight for the voiceless people, by protecting them from discrimination of the majority Muslims and to defend all religious minorities in Pakistan.
Support and Legal Aid to the victims of Blasphemy laws:
Since 2011, we have supported 21 individuals and their families as they sought to relocate in new areas after being accused of Blasphemy. We have provided Safe-Homes to 13 Victims of Blasphemy laws. The courts found many of these victims innocent; they still had to relocate, fearing for their lives. It is common for fanatical Muslims to attack these innocent victims and even murder them. We have also provided the Legal help to many of the victims of the Blasphemy law such as:
Amanat Masih: Amanat Masih was arrested in the year 2007 under 295-B. However, after 3 years and 8 months, he was acquitted from jail but remains in hiding despite being granted his supposed freedom by the court. Our partner, along with resources provided by Rescue Christians, is helping him on monthly basis.
Yousaf Masih: Yousaf Masih was arrested in 2005 from Sangala Hills under section 295 B. It was one of the most high-profile cases of blasphemy law. Radical Muslims had burnt four churches and two schools along with several houses in Sangala Hills. Even after acquittal from the jail, he was facing threats from the radical extremists. For a while he and his family were allowed to stay at the Catholic Bishop House in Lahore. However, later on, his family was dragged out after the death of Yousaf Masih. Since 2011, our partners – along with resources provided by our international partner Rescue Christians – is helping him on monthly basis.
Fanish Robert: Fanish Robert was arrested on 9th September 2009 by the police in Sumberial Sailkot and was found dead in the police lockup on 12th Sept, 2009. It was a clear case of judicial murder. The family fled from Sumberial to save their lives from religious lunatics. Our partners, along with resources provided by Rescue Christians are helping him on monthly basis.
Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Emmanuel: Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Emmanuel were arrested under the blasphemy law and on 19th July 2010 they were killed in the court-yard of Session court of Faisalabad. Thereafter, the family fled from Faisalabad and took shelter amongst their relatives in Gojra city. Our partners, along with resources provided by Rescue Christians, supported them.
Qamar David: David was a supplier of cosmetic shops in Karachi. He was arrested in 2006 for allegedly insulting the Prophet of Islam in a text message to a business rival. He was convicted in February 2010 by a court in Karachi and sentenced to life in prison. He was found dead in Central Jail at Karachi. Our partners supported the family in Karachi to bring the body of Qamar to Lahore for funeral and, along with resources provided by our international partner, supported the family.
Jehangir Khan (James): Jehangir Khan, along with his family, accepted Christ as Lord and savior in 2010. He was a converted Christian and his Muslim relatives had filed a Case of Blasphemy against him in Peshawar in December, 2010. After Accepting Christ, his name was changed just to avoid any unnecessary problems for his family. Since 2011, our partners, along with resources provided by Rescue Christians are helping him as his family on a monthly basis.
Kamran Masih s/o Shoukat Masih: In October,2011 a Christian Family was tortured and forced to run from their home in Sargohda. They were living in a village number 179- North in Sargohda. Kamran Masih’s younger brother was studying in Govt. Islamia Secondary School about 20 KM from their home. His teacher, Muhmmad Javed daily forced Shalom Masih (Brother of Kamran) to accept Islam as he was a good student. On 13th October 2011 Shalom got angry and used anti-Islamic words against Islam and the Prophet of Islam. On 14th October 2011 hundreds of Muslims attacked their home but with the help of some Muslim villagers they were able to escape. Our partners along with resources from Rescue Christians are helping the family on a monthly basis.
Patras Masih: Patras Masih, aged 38, is a Christian living in the Village near by Deska Salikot. Attempts were made to force his conversion to Islam. Both he and his wife refused as they are faithful Christians. The local landlords gave him a Quran and asked him to accept Islam. He refused. The Muslim landlord and his companions started beating him and broke his left arm from the shoulder joint and they burnt his feet as well. Later on they filed a complaint against him that he had committed Blasphemy against the Quran. With the help of our legal team, we discharged the report against him. Due to the threats from Islamists, our partner along with resources from Rescue Christians is helping him on monthly basis.
Hafeez Masih: Hafeez Masih aged 59, was living in the tehsil pasrur district sialkot. He, along with his sons and daughters were working as bounded laborers in kiln nearby Pasrur. 20 years ago Hafiz Masih had taken 50 thousand rupees as a loan from the owner of the Kiln for cancer treatment for his wife. For this reason, they were put into bounded labor. In 2011, they killed his son Sabir Masih for Insulting Islam. The Landlord Ch. Muhmmad Zafar used the females of the family for his sexual desires. We rescued them from Kiln and since then our partner and resources, provided by Rescue Christians is helping the family on monthly basis.
Sajjid Masih: Sajjid Masih (Real Name Shahzed Masih) was arrested in Farooqabad Sheikhpura on 18th May,2012. Under the strict Blasphemy law of Pakistan, however, with the help of our competent lawyers and field Team, we were able to get him acquitted him within 28 days. Ourpartner along with resources provided by Rescue Christians is helping him on monthly basis.
Mr. Mushtaq Masih Gill and his son Farrukh Mushtaq Gill: Christians of faith who were falsely accused of desecrating the pages of the Holy Quran in Gujranwala. The religious miscreants and band outfits following the alleged accusations of blasphemy planned to attack at the houses of the Christians at Aziz Colony and Gulzar Colony-Khokharki Road, Gujranwala. They also tried to attack a century years-old Christian Technical Training Center (CTTC) in Gujranwala. However, with the great work of our Ground Director Mr. Napoleon Qayyum, our partners were able to get help from the DIG Punjab to control the unrest situation. And thanks to Almighty God, within a few days, both the victims were free from the jail.
Mr. Dildar Masih, a Christian of faith was falsely blamed for insulting the Islamic foremost proclamation of Muhammad as prophet. Our Ground Director and legal team visited the Dildar Masih for his support.
Asiya Bibi: Our team visited the family of Asiya Bibi and met with the husband of the famous victim of Blasphemy law. We gave our love gifts to the family and have tried to support Asiya Bibi in her legal fight.
Imran Masih: Our partner team visited the family of Imran Masih, the victim of Blasphemy law and supported the family with our love gifts. We are also looking forward to supporting the family in the legal proceedings. However, currently one of the NGO in Pakistan is supporting the victim but Imran Masih’s father has requested our partners provide support to his son in legal matter.
Mst. Agnes Bashir: A Christian of faith who was allegedly implicated in a false blasphemy case after some political rivalry disputes in 2011. She was arrested and charged under section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The blasphemy allegations were false and forged just after political rivalry and jealousy. Idress Gujar prejudicially implicated Agnes Bashir in a false case of blasphemy. Our partners met her in Jail and we are looking forward to support her in trial.
Khurram Masih: In December of 2011, FIR was registered against Khurram Masih in Hahdara Police station. Our partner supported the family through a Pastor Rafique Masih who was in contact with the father of Khurram Masih. However, last week Khurram Masih was also granted bail from the Lahore High court.
Gulshan Masih and Saif Masih: In Feb,2012, a Christian family was under attack by the Radical Muslims in Sailkot, Punjab. They had quarrelled with a young Muslim over a pigeon. Muslims of the Area announced from the mosques that Christians had committed Blasphemy against our Prophet and Islam. Police had arrested Bashir Masih (father of Gulshan and Saif Masih) and pervez Masih (Uncle). However, with the great efforts of our Ground Director Mr. Napoleon Qayyum,we were able to Discharge the complaint against Gulshan Masih and Saif Masih.
Rimsha Masih: Our partners were the first ground Organization which reached the Slums of Islamabad to help and save the Christian, mentally handicapped girl, Rimsha Masih. Our partners filed a bail petition for Rimsha Masih on 23rd August 2012 through our lawyer and advocate, Raiz Anjum. It was set for a hearing on 28th August. However, after knowing the high profile nature of the case, APMA (All Pakistan Minority Alliance) jumped into the matter. We backed off from the case in order to prevent an unfavorable environment for Rimsha Masih. Our partners filed and provided the bail money, which successfully secured release of Rimsha. Our partner also supported the 200 families who fled for their lives from Maharabadi Islamabad. Our partners along with resources from Rescue Christians provided food and all the necessary things to the families for two weeks. We also provided resources to support supported 88 families to take the rented homes in the different parts of Islamabad.
Ryan Staton: A 16-years Old Christian Boy was falsely accused under Blasphemy law in Karachi on 10th October,2012. He was charged under section 295-C, section 7 of ATA (Anti terrorism Act) and 29 Section of Telegraphic Act. On the night of 8th October,2012 when dozens of Muslims reached their home to take Ryan into the custody, he was not there. However, when the Muslim mob left for the Police station, his mother and sister left the house and reached the place where Ryan and his father was (the hospital). They immediately made contact with our partner organization’s Executive Director for Support. Within 30 minutes, Our partners rescued them from Karachi and hid them in Lahore, Pakistan. Rescue Christians provided the resources for the safe house to hide. And now we are looking forward to move them from Pakistan to some western country.
Barkat Masih: A Christian Man named Barkat Masih Aged 56, resident of Khairpur Temawali District Bahawalpur, was falsely accused under the controversial Blapshemy Law. Barkat Masih converted to Christianity from Hinduism. He was working as a sweeper / cleaner in Faazal High School as well in Madrisa Khair Ul-Aloom. On 1st October, 2011 FIR was registered against him. However, when our partner team came to know about this case, they immediately contacted the Bahawalpur session court and with the efforts of our ground Director, SSP submitted his statement in the trial court that “Barkat Masih is Innocent”. Our lawyers are doing the best they can to discharge the case against Barkat Masih. On 8th Nov, 2012 his case is fixed for final hearing. We would request you to please keep Barkat Masih and his family in your Prayers. Our partner along with resources provided by Rescue Christians is helping him on monthly basis.
Rape Abduction and Forcibly conversion:
Our partner organization’s legal team works with the victims of religious intolerance, rape and sexual abuse, illegal detention, torture and other forms of oppression. Many Christian girls are raped at the hands of the Majority of people in Pakistan. Rape and abduction has been used as a strong weapon against the Christian and other Religiously oppressed community girls in Pakistan, a country where Christians and other Religious communities are treated as the most unaccepted elements of the society. The targeting of Christian girls and women has become a twisted form of sexual bloodsport for Fanatic Muslims.
Christian girls are particularly vulnerable to these types of crimes. Christian girls and women normally don’t file any police reports against such crimes; they usually keep silent because of the fear of the fanatics. Christians are also economically very poor and cannot hire any lawyers to defend them. That’s why only two percent of rape cases were reported and a majority of cases were never reported by media or press. Since last year, hundreds of cases of rape were reported by the ground director of our partner organization. The employers or landlords committed most of the abductions and rapes. According to our ground search work,
“The rape, abduction and forcible conversion of Christian women to Islam is rising every year. Muslim men rape Christian girls and then they easily force them to convert to Islam and marry them.”
Our partner is supporting eleven victims of rape, abduction and forcible conversion. They are providing them legal support in courts as well as shelter in our base in Multan. Now they are looking forward to opening a shelter home for these women and girls so they can freely restart their lives again. Our partner continues to help victims by helping them report their abuse to the appropriate authorities. We also provide women victims of abuse with basic items to meet their practical needs and run counseling workshops to help them move beyond their traumatic experiences. The workshops include legal advice on making a case against the perpetrator and how to cope with the physical impact of the abuse.
Freedom from slavery:
The Pakistani Bonded Labor System Abolition Act which was officially approved by the parliament in 1992, outlaws bonded labor, cancels all existing bonded debts/loans, forbids lawsuits for the recovery of debts or loans, and punishes bonded labor by children with up to five years in prison and 50 thousand Pakistani rupees which is equivalent to a $550 fine. Any bonded laborer can petition for a writ of habeas corpus and free them legally but despite these well-intentioned laws, conservative estimates put the number of bonded laborers in Pakistan at several millions. We have also observed that during last decade about 10,000 Christian bounded laborers were forced to convert to Islam, many were sold to other kilns owners in different parts of Pakistan. There are nearly about 500 families living kilns as bounded labor.
Recently, our partner has started a project to support and free the Christian bounded labor from different kilns in Pakistan. So far, they have rescued 6 Families from Kilns. However, we are looking forward to starting this project at a high level in 2013.
Rehabilitation and re-settlement:
Aside from other services, our partner in Pakistan has always felt its prime obligation is to be with people affected by natural and man-made disaster, whether it is the flood of 2010 or the Internally Displacement Persons (IDPs). They did their best work in the flood of 2010. Their volunteers and staff members reached areas where vehicles could not go. They used teams to work day and night for the victims of flood in the Sindh – and Punjab Pakistan, amongst the Hindus, Christians and other religious minorities. They also helps local churches in Sindh repair and construct Churches and schools which were destroyed by water. They supply food for two regular months. Our partbers reached the Christian families of Maharabadi – Islamabad, which had fled from there on 16th and 17th August, 2012 after Rimsha Masih, a Pakistani girl of 14, was arrested in a poor suburb in Islamabad after a neighbor accused her of burning papers containing verses from the Quran, in breach of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws. When she was arrested, Christian families had to flee to save their lives from the Muslims of the neighborhood. Many of them were being beaten by the mob on the day this incident happened. An Angry mob had planned to set their house on fire so they ran for their lives that midnight, leaving their homes open. Many of the families took shelter in different Churches and community centers; some of them found security in the forest in Sector G-9/4. Since then our partners in Pakistan have been helping the people by providing them food and after the release of Rimsha on bail; they started helping the families get rented homes in other areas of Islamabad. Our Partner and Rescue Christians have helped 88 families get rented homes in different parts of Islamabad. And still our partner is working on the ground for these oppressed People. We will continue to extend support to the provision of safe lodgings and humanitarian aid for victims of persecution in Pakistan.