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Press Release

Second Martyrdom’ Anniversary of Shahbaz Bhatti was celebrated with religious and patriotism. The proceeding of the ceremony went smoothly and neither the participants nor speakers felt any discomfort.

 

 

The speakers, participants, family members, friends and participants all showed reverence to martyr Shahbaz Bhatti and paid homage for laying his life for the cause. The presence of honorable parliamentarians, large number of Church leaders and representatives from all walks of life made it clear that Pakistan cannot continue with extremism, religious bigotry, hatred and all kinds of social evil.

The MC’s of the program were Mrs. Rakhshanda Khan and Ms. Christina Yousif. Both with full confidence lead the program well until end. In the beginning, Rakhshanda beautifully quoted Shahbaz Bhatti, which clearly showed that Shahbaz did not care for his life. He had a mission right from the beginning that he wanted to live a true Christian’s life; and if needed, he will give his life for his people. This was later also reflected in the speeches of Parliamentarians.

The proceedings of the meeting began with a prayer by Rev. John Kelly and Rev. Yousif Nishan read the Scripture, whereas Archbishop Lawrence Saldhana led in prayer. Archbishop also shared a little bit about his interaction with Shahbaz Bhatti during his struggle for restoration of educational institutes and repeal of draconian laws especially blasphemy law and for its victims. He specifically mentioned that how Shahbaz worked dedicatedly for Asia Bibi and convinced Governor Punjab, Salman Taseer, to meet her in the prison and help her to sought justice. Though governor was also assassinated for this act, but Shahbaz did this in all his sincerity towards Asia Bibi and other persecuted Christians.
The next speaker was Bishop. Munawar Rumalshah, who has a long experience of interfaith dialogue in Pakistan and overseas. Bishop highlighted the miseries of Pakistani Christians and the conditions in which they have to live.
Alpha, niece of Eliza Charles, always brings beautiful songs to ICV functions. At this ceremony she also sung an inspiring song which touched every ones heart.
Due to overseas engagements of minister for citizenship and immigration, Hon. Jason Kenney was not able to attend this program, however, Minister Bal Gosal read his message in which Minister Kenny emphasized that the personality of Shahbaz inspired him a lot and he was to go further in developing working relations with him. However, Shahbaz died at an early age; otherwise they would have worked on more issues. He further stated that Shahbaz’ personality encouraged him and Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of Canada to establish the office of Religious Freedom, which was recently inaugurated. He further hoped that this office will help to enhance situation of religious freedom in various countries.
Mr. Peter Bhatti, Chairman ICV, while sharing his views, thanked the government officials, community members and all who have shared their concern at this occasion. He further thanked honorable PM Stephan Harper and Minister Immigration Jason Kenny, for extending their support towards the cause for which Shahbaz Bhatti laid his life. He thanked PM for establishing the Office for Religious Freedom, which was a dream of Shahbaz Bhatti. Mr. Bhatti, reiterated to continue the legacy of Shahbaz Bhatti through ICV and also extending support to the Christians in Pakistan.
Hon. Tim Hudak MPP Niagara West, Leader of Progressive Conservatives, paid tribute to Shahbaz Bhatti and said that leaders like Shahbaz Bhatti help to understand the reality of life. Shahbaz motivated others to move forward to attain the goal of liberty and fight against oppression. 

Mrs. Molly Banejei also sang an inspiring song on the occasion of remembering the life of Shahbaz Bhatti and encouraged victims of persecution saying that they are not alone through her lyrics, even after such a leader has passed away.

Psalm 23 was read by Hon. Kyle Seeback, who assigned it with life of Shahbaz. He regretted for not meeting Shahbaz Bhatti, but glad to know more about his struggle and efforts through ICV and ensures to support the efforts for restoration of uplift of humanity. He concluded his speech by reading, Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever; and said that Shahbaz is now dwelling in the house of the Lord, today.

The next speaker, Hon. Parm Gill, MP, Brampton Springdale, reiterated that Canada would continue supporting the religious minorities and help them to gain self-respect and honor.
Senator Don Meredith, invited audience to stand to show their support to Shahbaz Bhatti and ICV – Canada. He further quoted Martin Luther King Jr. and shared that his meeting with Shahbaz Bhatti, was one of the best moments of his life. He further stated that government will advocate for religious liberation, and rights for the marginalized.
Consulate General of Pakistan, Toronto said that he was a good friend of Shahbaz Bhatti and enjoyed several of his meetings. He also extended his support to ICV and assured of his cooperation in future as well.
President, One Free World, Rev. Majeed El Shafi shared the experience for being a minority in Islamic majority country. He was of the view that Christians have to carry their witness no matter what so ever circumstances occur. He further stated that the struggle of Shahbaz should not stop here; the legacy should be continued and more should join this struggle to make this world a better place to live.
Mrs. Jacqueline Yousif, while expressing her memories of her youngest brother, Shahbaz Bhatti, stated that he was very much concerned with everyone’s security. It was not alone that he cared for the community. The day he was assassinated, he visited his mother and while leaving again and again told her to take care of herself, who laughed and said, Shahbaz you are still a young child for me; so you take care of yourself, and moments later we could see him pooled in his own blood. She, with wet eyes, courageously said that she is proud to be sister of a martyr who will live forever, not only in heaven but also in the hearts of people.
Jay Banerjei then spoke on behalf of Open Doors human rights organization Canada and stressed the fact that the entire community must work together in Canada to create a change in the lives of the suffering people.
Towards the end Imam Abdul Hae Patel and Imam Inayat Ali Shakir shared their views. Imam Patel said that the contribution of Shahbaz Bhatti will be cherished and remembered by the world for a long time. Imam Inayat Ali Shakir said that Shabaz Bhatti was not leader and hero of Christians alone; he fought for all religious minorities of Pakistan. Therefore, his assassination is mourned by people of Pakistan and all those who are struggling for rights. He further said that killing of Shahbaz Bhatti is the killing of inter-faith harmony and of peace.

M.P, Mississauga East – Cooksville, Wladyslaw Lizon shared his experience of persecution and inequality. He affirmed Canada’s commitment to help victims of persecution and encouraged people living in Canada to remember that not everyone has the same freedom Canadian citizens do and therefore remember those who cannot practice their basic human rights.
The night ended with Mr. Peter Bhatti, Chairman, and Mr. Tanveer Joseph, vice chairman, thanked all ICV executive and volunteers whose tireless work enabled this program to move successfully. They further thanked the audience who were able to be present at the ceremony and also those who could not come, but shared their concern through emails and telephones.
Pastor Bruno Lerullo from Catch The Fire Church then said the grace for dinner.
Thus this evening ended with meeting and greeting at dinner.

Exclusive footage of Shahbaz Bhatti\'s interview

Pakistani Christian Asylum Seeker Dies in IDC, Bangkok, Thailand

International Christian Voice (ICV) is very saddened to learn that 36-year-old Pakistani Christian asylum seeker Mr. Ijaz Paras Masih has died in Bangkok, Thailand while in an Immigration Detention Centre. He had been facing serious health concerns for many months and succumbed to his illness on May 26, 2017 due to a lack of medical treatment.

In the IDC, his health deteriorated substantially. His first heart attack occurred last year and he had become paralyzed since. He repeatedly requested Thai officials in the IDC to provide him with the appropriate medical treatment but it was not provided to him, ultimately leading  to  his death. Ijaz Masih is sadly not the first Pakistani Christian who has died inside a detention centre due to the negligence of Thai Authorities and local UNHCR officials. Many other individuals and families continue to suffer from the maltreatment and inhumane conditions inside Thai IDCs.

   Ijaz Paras Masih

 

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