By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
ADHA SUKHAIRA, PAKISTAN (ANS – November 29, 2015) – According to a shocking report from the UK-based British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), seven Christian brick kiln workers were detained on Saturday, November 21, 2015 and “brutally beaten” by local police after they were stopped and searched on their rickshaw journey home.
BPCA have told the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net), that Police officials allegedly snatched the impoverished workers’ salary for the week which amounted in total to 16700 rupees (£100 UK or $150.20 USD).
“The men were then illegally arrested without any charges and had to be bailed out on the guarantee of a local community leader,” said a spokesperson for the group.
They were: Allah Rakha (47 years), his sons Asif (25 years) and Khurram (17 years), along with four other co-villagers, Sittar Masih (38 years), his son Naeem (25 years) a serving Army personnel, Tariq Masih (30 years) and Nadeem Masih (28 years), who had all been working at Allah Towaqal Bricks Company located at Adha Sukhaira in the district of Sumandri.
Allaha Rakha told Shamim Masih, the BPCA representative in Pakistan, that they were traveling home by rickshaw late at night “after a hard day’s toil” when three police officials stopped them “for no apparent reason but for routine inspection.”
“The officers asked them for their personal details and where they had come from and where they were going to,” said the BPCA spokesperson. “The seven men provided all their details, but noticed a change in the police’s behavior after they sharing their Christian names.
“The officers suddenly turned more aggressive and conducted a search during which they found the pittance of weekly wages paid to the hard working brick kiln laborers which amounted to a measly £100 ($150.20 USD) between them.
“Despite remonstrations that the money was their combined weekly wages, the police officers starting beating the innocent men accusing them of being Christian drug dealers and robbers. They then proceeded to arrest them illegally and detained them at Thirkani Police Station in Sumandri.”
Allah Rakha said: “We pleaded with them for mercy explaining we were just poor bricklayers returning to our homes at Chack 226. We explained that our employer could explain how we obtained our money, but they still beat us extremely severely with their batons. Even when we cried and lay on the floor they continued to beat us, filled with hatred that we were Christians who happened to have some money.
“When we were put in a cell, despite our severe wounds. they provided no medical aid and we sat there in extreme pain, bleeding and catching infections.”
He went on to say, “I led everyone in prayer believing that God would release us just as He did with the Apostle Paul. Then, after a couple of hours, God answered our prayers and police staff allowed us to call our community leaders, Irfan Masih and Riaz Masih, who were able to act as guarantors for us enabling our release and return home.
“When we all eventually arrived home, our women wept as they saw our wounds. They tended to us and helped us recover, however we have all been badly traumatized and have not yet been back to work. We hope to start back on Monday, if our employers have not already given our work away.
“The police officers have not yet returned our money and we do not know if we will ever get our wages back. We are already poor but this attack has destroyed our already hard-to-manage finances. I have seven children, two daughters and five sons. Two of my sons work with me in the brick kilns to feed our family, and none of my children ever went to school as we could not afford it.”
Irfan and Riaz have appointed a lawyer, Akmal Bhatti, who has now submitted an application to the Central Police Officer (CPO) against the “inhumane behavior” of the police authorities. Initially there was no response from the local police station so many Christians decided to stage a mass protest rally outside the station calling for “an end to the discriminatory attitude of police authorities towards religious minorities.”
Irfan Masih, a local human rights activist, told the BPCA: “The Senior Superintendent Police (SSP), Malik Shahid has ordered that “an inquiry be held against the police officials involved in this inhuman attack. As a community, we will fight against the discrimination and brutality of police authorities towards Christians.”
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA (http://www.britishpakistanichristians.org), said: “Police brutality in Pakistan towards Christians is no secret. We have reported on four suspicious deaths of Christians within police custody during our tenure as a humanitarian NGO, and sadly expect that many others will occur.” Read more at http://www.britishpakistanichristians.org/CampaignProcess.aspx?A=Link&VID=8996625&KID=27857&LID=105728 .
Chowdhry continued, “Lack of interest towards complaints by the Christian minority has created a recognized level of impunity that has exacerbated the situation. The current refusal by police officers to even register an FIR in most cases raised by Christians illustrates that western nation assessments of ‘sufficiency of protection’ are flawed at best, yet without the influence of Pakistan’s big sponsors i.e. Britain, the European Union and the USA the current status quo will continue or reach a nadir. People across the globe simply have to challenge their politicians to intervene on behalf of Pakistani Christians or eventually this attrition will lead to the eradication of Christians in Pakistan.”
He added, “The BPCA would like to help this community by taking on the legal costs which are estimated at £400 ($600.78 USD). We would also like to cover the lost wages of the seven men and to help with other losses, an amount of £100 each would help them stabilize their finances. We would also like to take on the cost of schooling any young children of these victims, who have previously been denied the chance due to the extreme poverty they are living in.”
For further information on how you can help, please go to: http://www.britishpakistanichristians.org/CampaignProcess.aspx?A=View&Data=9Vh9eBhFXOoBdXhdzk9Fkg%3d%3d d
Photo captions: 1) Some of the badly beaten brick kiln workers (BPCA). 2) Shamim Masih, the BPCA representative in Pakistan addresses some of the injured brick kiln workers (BPCA). 3) One of the brick kiln workers shows his injuries. (BPCA), 4) Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, addresses a protest rally in London. 5) Dan Wooding with his BPCA award.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show all based in Southern California. He was given a special award by the British Pakistan Christian Association for his consistent reporting on the plight of persecuted Pakistani Christians.
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