Tuesday, November 8, 2011
A Pregnant Christian maid is allegedly tortured in the town where Osama bin Laden was killed
By Dan Wooding and Rodrick Samson
Special to ASSIST News Service
ABBOTTABAD, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Salma Emmanuel, 30, a pregnant Christian housemaid was allegedly recently tortured in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad and was later admitted to a local hospital in a “critical condition.”
According to Emmanuel Masih, her husband, Salma Emmanuel comes from Rawalpindi's Mohalla Raja Sultan neighborhood and they married over a year ago and moved to Kunj Jadeed Mohalla (New Kunj new locality) in Abbottabad, where she was working as a maid at the home of a man called Ghazal Riaz at the post office building in Abbottabad.
According to a story published in The Express Tribune (Pakistan) on November 7th, 2011, “…she brought eight tolas (100 grams) of gold ornaments from her home and requested Riaz to keep them for safety reasons. However, the very next day Riaz informed Salma by phone that some burglars had entered her house and taken away Rs900,000 cash ($10,645 US Dollars), 24 tolas (300 grams) of gold ornaments including Salma’s, and a laptop.”
She told a group of local reporters, “Ms. Riaz called me and my husband to her house; when I entered the house, some police personnel were also there with sniffer dogs,” Salma said. Her husband, Emmanuel, entered the house for the first time in a year, but the sniffer dogs repeatedly went towards him, after which the police arrested him and took him to an unidentified place.
“According to the victim, she was subjected to severe torture by the women police personnel as she refused to confess the crime under duress as she was innocent. She told the media that when her condition deteriorated, the police officer called one of her male relatives and sent her home with him, where her condition worsened. Her family members then took her to Benazir Shaheed (formerly District Headquarters) Hospital.
“The medical officer on duty, Dr. Tahir Habib, confirmed that the woman’s body bore marks of torture and her fetus was also in danger due to the her critical condition.
“When approached for comment, Deputy Superintendent of Police Aziz Afridi confirmed that the woman was picked up with her husband on suspicion of their involvement in the robbery, but he rejected the allegation that she had been tortured by the police personnel.
“City Police Station House Officer Ashiq Hussain also confirmed the report of Salma’s detention but brushed aside the allegation that she had been beaten up there, adding that she was handed over to women police personnel for interrogation.
“Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of Haraza Division Dr Naeem Khan has ordered a probe into the incident.
“Meanwhile, Adeel Ahmed, a program coordinator for Hazara-based NGO Human Development Organization working against torture, has condemned the torture of the woman and demanded registration of a criminal case against the errant police personnel. According to Ahmed, detention-related abuses against citizens were rampant in Hazara and despite the fact the government has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, the perpetrators are not taken to task. He also demanded treatment and compensation for the torture victim.”
In a separate statement, the Christian maid said with tears in her eyes, "I was in severe pain, I kept saying that I and my husband are innocent, but they kept kicking me. They kept threatening me that they will kill me and my child if I will not confess. The female officers kept saying that Riaz and her brother are very influential, they will have us killed and no one will even come to know about it. They severely tortured me, when I was almost unconscious they called a male officer and sent me home." .
Meanwhile, the Masihi Foundation, a Pakistan-based human rights organization and Life for All Pakistan, a humanitarian organization issued a joint statement, "This is not a first incident where a maid has been illegally detained and tortured. On January 23, 2010, an innocent 12-year old child, Shazia, was reported to have been tortured to death. She had been employed as a maid in Advocate Naeem’s house in Lahore.
“On 15th April 2010 Sumera Pervaiz, 14 years old Christian maid working at Wing Commander Faheem Cheema house in Pakistan Air Force Islamabad base colony was illegally detained and tortured. Unfortunately the authorities didn’t take any action because the people involved were influential and were able to pressurize the legal system. These people have made the society hostage and feel that they can do anything they want."
Note: Abbottabad, pronounced AHB-tah-bahd, is some 60 miles by winding mountainous roads north of Pakistan's capital. Surrounded by green hills, it is renowned for its trees and parks. It's a popular retirement place for officers in the Pakistani army, partly because of its military academy, but also because of its agreeable climate. During British rule, the Imperial Gazeteer of India described it as "picturesquely situated," 4,120 feet above sea level.
Abbottabad sits on the Karakoram Highway, an engineering marvel that links Pakistan with China through the Himalayas. Before much of Pakistan became off-limits to most foreign tourists, it was also a popular spot for those on their way to and from the Swat valley and the foothills of the Himalayas.
Rodrick Samson is a freelance journalist based in Pakistan.
** You may republish this story with proper attribution.
Send this story to a friend. Share