09/20/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In July, teenagers killed their classmate, Wajaish Kumar, with their teacher’s help. 12-year-old Kasheesh suffered a fractured elbow after her teacher beat her in school. Several months before that, Faisalabad teachers locked a young Christian girl in the school washroom because they accused her of using “Muslim” washrooms. What do these attacks have in common? Christian schoolchildren in Pakistan’s education system.
These stories are only a few of the many persecution stories told by Christians in the Pakistani school system and they fit within the broader pattern of nationwide Christian persecution. The recent Easter bombings in Lahore and armed attacks in Peshawar represent the horrible end product of Pakistan’s deep-seeded intolerance toward Christianity which is unfortunately nurtured in schools.
Maqbool Masih, a Christian student, describes how teachers encourage Christian persecution in class. “Weeks back, a teacher was lecturing on Islamic history,” Masih told Internaitonal Christian Concern (ICC). “However, he started provoking the students against the ‘non-believers.’ He passionately encouraged hatred against Christians. If he knew I was a Christian, he would have sent me to heaven.”
Unfortunately, this verbal, anti-Christian teaching can materialize into physical persecution and social discrimination. One Christian girl, for example, was beaten by her teacher at a private school in Lahore until two of her fingers were fractured in February 2016. Other teachers force their Christian students, some as young as eight-years-old, to clean the entire school building including offices and washrooms every day instead of attending class. Some students even report that some teachers force the Christian students to clean the teachers’ homes as well.
In addition to physical persecution, some schools practice social discrimination including segregation. For example, a 12-year-old student told ICC that, “We [Christian students] are not allowed to drink water from the school tap throughout the schooling hours and have to keep our mugs separate from the other students.” One teacher beat a Muslim student because she drank water from her Christian friend’s bottle because “she wanted to know the ‘difference of taste’ of Christian’s water [from the Muslims’ water].“
While Christian students are not allowed to practice their faith at school, teachers force all students to learn Islamic teachings. If not, they are punished. This month, in a village near Faisalabad, a teacher hit an eight-year-old Christian female student in the eye with a stick because she did not memorize the assigned Islamic verses.
Students are not the only victims of persecution in Pakistan’s school system. Nabela Nadeem, a female Christian teacher, notes that “Christian teachers are also targeted by school officials for conversion to Islam.” Nadeem continued, “A Christian teacher is never accepted as a higher ranked official at schools. A few months ago, a Christian headmaster was beaten and abused by the school’s junior teachers because they refused to accept a Christian as a school administrator.”
Another teacher acknowledged the social discrimination against Christian educators, “Teachers belonging to the majority religion [Islam], glorify their faith as the holiest and they paint other religions as inferior and show no respect to them.”
Human rights leaders denounce Pakistan’s education system. Peter Jacob, head of the Lahore-based Center for Social Justice, argues that “besides imparting knowledge and textbooks, the educational institutions and teaching at schools should focus on educating young minds about universal humanity, religious harmony, diversity, dignity of human beings, and equal citizenship.” Instead of religious harmony, Jacob contends that “there are several layers of religious discrimination in Pakistan’s education system, policy, and textbooks that authorities need to address.”
One Christian teacher, Atta Urehman Saman, aptly summarizes the heartbreaking situation for Christian students in Pakistan’s schools, “Students that identify with a minority religion experience various discriminations and persecutions in educational institutions throughout the country. Most of the discrimination is physical and mental torture, hate speech, and forced conversion of female students by their teachers or classmates.”
No child should have to sacrifice their faith or risk their life for an education, so ICC continually seeks to support the innocent children and their families through medical, educational, and other forms of assistance.
More instances of injustice both in Pakistan and Thailand from BPCA
I write to you in a situation of desperate need. We have over the last 3 months been working with a large American charity who asked us to initiate a safe house for blasphemy victims and Christian slaves. We submitted a costing for a 6 month project and they committed to covering the costs which would include; transport for victims, food and shelter, and wages for an officer who would counsel the family and place capable family members into safer employment, eventually moving them into their own rental homes, whereby they could restart their lives.
The charity was initially upset that we took a long time encouraging families to leave the brick kilns. There desire was for us to bribe police officers to arrest families for a false crime and then take them to safety. They felt that brick kiln owners would not seek back their ‘property’ if taken by the police. But when I spoke to Christian ministers, other charities and our trustees they all unanimously agreed such practice was deceitful and outside the bounds of a charity.
Our young female officer Mehwish Bhatti put her life at risk freeing a family at night rather then pay a penny to the corrupt police or compensating the Brick Kiln owner – which was another option , who had already yielded illegal revenue through the use of slaves.
We have already had success in freeing one Christian slave family and have others waiting for similar emancipation (click here). Earlier we also saved an Ice-cream vendor who was beaten up and accused of blasphemy for selling ice creams to Muslim children despite his apparent ritual impurity.
After two months the charity pulled the plug on our funding, because of our elay in getting the consent of terrified victims, for displaying on our website the videos they asked us to produce despite this being a joint venture, and in their most recent email, they even had the audacity to say ‘Our organization is under big surveillance from ISI, you are better off not mentioning us or you any more till things cool down.’
They were made aware that we are constantly under ISI observation when I sent them this news story (click here) at the beginning of our relationship The article outlines how I have been banned from Pakistan for speaking out for Pakistani Christians. So the charity’s last comment simply makes no sense.
We are now as a group short by at least £3000 for the project. These funds would allow us to pay necessary transportation, rent and food for victims at our safe house, a full-time carer and counsellor who will resettle families permanently in their own homes after finding employment for capable members.
If we can raise a further £6000 we would be able to continue the work for a further six months, a period during which have calculated that we would be able to help a further 10 Christian families emancipate themselves from modern day slavery. M any are already on a waiting list.
Without your help we will struggle to continue transforming the lives of these poor forgotten slaves. Together let’s help these victims live their calling!
“Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you–although if you can gain your freedom, do so.For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.”
1 Corinthians 7 v 21-22
I am hoping to visit Sydney, Canberra and Perth in Australia to meet with politicians and church communities. My flight will be sponsored but I am hoping some churches, individuals or groups might be able to help with accommodation. If you are a member or leader of a church in these cities and would like me to come and share my presentation on the plight of Pakistani Christians, then please get in contact. I am hoping to submit a copy of our latest report on Pakistan and the asylum seekers in Thailand to the Australian Parliament too. The expected dates for my visit to Australia will between the 7th and 17th October 2016.
Please pray for freedom for all Christian slaves in Pakistan
Please pray for the success of our visit to Australia and for the nation of Australia to open their doors to Christian asylum seekers.
Please read our regular updates below.
Faisalabad: Christian teenager murdered after being sodomized!
A 14-year-old Christian boy was murdered and his dead body was left hanging in a tree in a place called Gosh Nagar, Faisalabad.
Zeeshan Masih had been visiting his uncle’s cattle farm at Shreejan Wala Dhera and gone out to buy a soft drink on the 23rd of August 2016, but never returned home. He was later found hanging dead from the branch of tree only a short distance from where his uncle’s buffaloes would go out to graze.
Despite medical evidence that Zeeshan had been sexually molested and some witnesses implicating two unknown Muslim men, local Police initially registered Zeeshan’s death as natural and not suspicious.
The Deputy Superintendent of Sadar Police constabulary, Saleem Warraich has stated that Zeeshan died of a heart attack, which he claims was induced by drinking a soft drink after eating fruit. The crass statement was made during a press conference with national media groups including Duniya News and Express News.
Read full story (click here)
Pakistani Christian asylum seekers are being targeted by the UNHCR through ‘disturbing’ policy change
A process change by the UNHCR based in Bangkok that seems to deliberately target Pakistani Christians who make up the largest body of asylum seekers in Thailand, has caused alarm and consternation amongst the advocacy and humanitarian groups providing aid to them.
The policy has been described as ‘disturbing’ by an on the ground campaigner , who has also stated that the change in policy’disproportionately affects Pakistani Christians, since they are the largest refugee population here in Bangkok, and are more likely than most refugees to have their application for refugee status rejected.’
The new policy has drastically reduced the time that asylum seekers have to file a notice of appeal. The deadline for filing appeal documents has been reduced from 90 to 30 days.
To make matters worse the UNHCR has also determined that they will no longer communicate any reasons for refusal in their own language. Previously, the asylum seekers’ refusal was read to them in their own language. From now on, asylum seekers will only receive their refusal letter in English.
Read full story (click here). The link includes the diabolical failure by the Pakistani Embassy to help their citizens.
Pakistani Christian: ‘Life is Unbearable as an Asylum Seeker in Thailand’
This interview was facilitated by the British Pakistani Christian Association, and was written by Donna Edmunds for the publication Breitbart. It has been reproduced with full with permission. The victim and her family are part supported by the BPCA however Kathriya is also earning a very small living as a model.
Kathriya Louis is gazing out of the window of the second floor condo she shares with her family in Thailand when a military vehicle pulls up. Pausing only to take a quick picture on her cell phone, she quickly withdraws inside, and the family sit in silence, hoping not to be the latest detainees shipped to Thailand’s immigration centers.
Image of Military vehicle outside the flats where Kathriya lives.
Please sign our petition (click here)
Kathriya, 20, is just one of thousands of Pakistani Christians who fled to the country following persecution in her home state. But like her compatriots, Kathriya lives her life in fear of being arrested and detained as an illegal immigrant.
“I am really worried,” she told Breitbart News. “We are all scared that the soldiers and police will come in larger numbers to take us all away. We all know how badly detainees are treated in the immigration detention centre, and none of us want to go there.”
Kathriya is lucky, for now – the officials move on. But she admits: “My family and I are planning what to do in an emergency, we are also thinking of spending time outdoors in tourist areas to prevent being caught at home again.”
And she begs: “Please ask people to pray for us.”
Read full story (click here)
Where in the world is it safe for Christian Asylum Seekers?
The current pathways for Pakistani Christian Asylum Seekers do not work. They are paths where people are often exploited by criminals and lead mostly to further suffering. The current pathways flood countries who are not equipped to manage large numbers of asylum seekers. These countries are often tolerant of small numbers of asylum seekers at first, as numbers increase they become more hostile until eventually they are actively arresting Asylum Seekers. This has prompted the BPCA to ask “Where in the world is it safe for Christian Asylum Seekers?”
Recently the BPCA has been joined by a team of volunteer researchers from Australia who are exploring the question “Where in the world is it safe for Christian Asylum Seekers to go?”.Angus Skeoch leads a volunteer team consisting of Christina Skeoch, James Carlos, Karissa De Leon. He said: “The research proposal being developed aims to develop a long term strategy for Christian asylum seekers, a strategy that provides sanctuary from persecution whilst asylum seekers undertake the refugee application process.”
During August for 14 days BPCA Chairman Mr Chowdhry has had the privilege of visiting a total of 8 churches, meeting with a total of 16 Pastors and over 400 hundred asylum seekers in Thailand and Malaysia. During these visits many asylum seekers responded to the long term strategic Sanctuary question, with careful consideration and prayerful reflection. We asked where such a place would be outside their homeland and they all unanimously stated in the Christian west, which they felt were the only countries where their religious belief and practices would be tolerated, and where the existing culture would enable them to assimilate without causing conflict.
Read full story (click here)
Funeral of bomb victim Samuel Sardar Masih illustrates Christians are anathema in Pakistan and the country’s most vulnerable targets
On Friday we reported on the bomb attack by Pakistani Taliban splinter group Jamaat –ul-Ahrar, who attacked a Christian community near Warsak Dam.
The attack began early in the morning in a small village named ‘Christian Colony’ on the outskirts of Peshawar. Christian worker Samuel Sardar Masih, (50 years) was the first casualty he had called for a security officer to open the gates to the community village at 5:30 am. As he walked to work he saw the terrorists and instead of seeking safety, he called the security officers protecting the colony and warned them of the impending attack. He then ran back to alert the community and protect his family from danger. He made it back to the gates where he shouted for help making himself a target. There he was shot dead with several bullets by all four of the Muslim assassins and his body was hacked to pieces leaving it unrecognizable.
One of the security officers Mr Khud Ali had received a call from Samuel, who warned him of the impending attack. He was able to prime himself and took shelter in a safe security cabin. Taking advice from Samuel he had contacted the military liaison to seek help and assistance. From the Cabin he engaged in gun fire with the four terrorists who had entered the colony – his colleague Najeeb also joined the gun exchange. Together they managed to pin them at the entrance of the colony protecting the Christian civilians till support arrived from the military.
Read full story (click here)
Police charge Muslim murderer of Christian father who attempted to retrieve daughter from forced marriage!
The frightened family of a 14 year old Christian girl who was kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage by a Muslim employer, have secured justice after the murderers were successfully charged for killing of their patriarch who was fighting for Mehwsh’s freedom.
On the 12th of March 2016 14 year old Mehwish Masih traveled to the house of Zahid Iqbal (30 years) to undertake domestic services required for a birthday party. However Mehwish never returned home and the employer when approached alleged that he knew nothing of her whereabouts. A few days later the family received a letter confirming that Mehwish had willingly converted to Islam and was now married to the employer. The family of Mehwish were denied access to their daughter, who was conveniently away from the employers home whenever the parents visited.
Read full story (click here)