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Letter to UNHCR From International Christian Voice (ICV)Pakistani Christians Lives are at Risk

September 7, 2015

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I would like to bring to your kind attention the situation of Christians in Pakistan and abroad.
Christians of Pakistan are loyal and patriotic citizens of Pakistan. Since its creation until now, they have participated more than other in the development and prosperity of Pakistan. Unfortunately every ruler, to prolong their ruling,introduced discriminatory laws and incorporated the laws into the constitution of Pakistan. These include the blasphemy laws and other discriminatory laws.
Due to these laws, forces of violence and militant organizations such as the Tehrik-E-Taliban and Al-Qaida easily persecute the Christians of Pakistan and the Government of
Pakistan has been unable to control them.

 

Pakistani Christians are falsely accused under these laws and the worst thing is it's not only
effecting one person or family but it's affecting all Christians. There are
hundreds of examples of the misuse of these laws such as the case of Shahzad
Masih and Shama Masih who were burnt alive in a brick kiln factory near Lahore
while Shama Masih was four months pregnant.
In Joseph Colony Lahore, Sawan Masih was falsely accused of blasphemy
and a mob of two thousand people burnt down two churches and 75 Christians
homes. Rimsha Masih, a 14 year old with a mental disability was falsely accused
of blasphemy in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. Another incident of alleged
blasphemy took place in the town of Gojra where 7 people were burnt alive from
one family and other Christians' properties in the city were demolished.

Recently, on Sunday March 15, 2015 churches in Yohanabad Lahore, the capital of Punjab Pakistan's second largest city were attacked. Two suicide bombers targeted the Christ Church of Pakistan and St. John Catholic Church killing at least 15 people and injuring nearly 80 others. The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Talban claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The most recent case that took place on September 3, 2015 is of a Christian youth, Pervaiz Masih, who has been accused of committing blasphemy by local villagers. He is a resident of Garhay Wala a village of District Kasur in Punjab province.

In 2011, Salman Taseer, a Muslim Governor of Punjab and Shahbaz Bhatti,
a Christian who was Pakistan's Minister of Minority affairs and a long time religious freedom
advocate were both killed for opposing Pakistan's draconian blasphemy law. Clearly impunity remains one of the world's most serious obstacles for religious freedom. Pakistan has enforced laws which violate religious freedom and encourage individuals to aggressively monitor members of minority religious groups to take violent actions against them. A key example is that of the assassinations of Bhatti and Taseer.

There are many cases which have proved that Pakistani Christian's lives are at risk.

According to a registration more than 4,000 Pakistani Christian are living in Thailand as asylum seekers. There are major challenges faced by the Pakistani Christians in Thailand.Pakistani Christians fleeing from oppression, physical threats of violence, unjust incarceration based on their religious identities and constant vulnerability of their physical safety,their freedom, and their rights to practice their religion meet all of the definitions of a group of refugees.

The situation of Christians in Thailand is intolerable. These people lack basic human rights and
necessities such as shelter, food, health and security and the situation is only getting worse day by day. Local integration is impossible. Refugees fleeing from persecution are treated with expulsion and are under threat of deportation possibly combined with prolonged arbitrary detention. All of these destitute Christians are facing many challenges from the immigration department of Thailand. The threat is targeted/aimed at the Pakistani Christian group. The intentional use of physical force against members of the group has been resulting in severe injuries,psychological harm, mal development, deprivation and even death.

Their lives are in danger as per the mandate of UNHCR which ensures that they will not be returned involuntarily to a country where they could face persecution.It is requested to
your kind honor, to recognize and grant these people refugee status as these people cannot return to Pakistan due to the severe religious persecution. These Pakistani Christians have been
forced into an exodus from Pakistan after being victimized due to the blasphemy laws,
forced conversions and accusations of preaching amongst non-believers in Pakistan.

A durable solution for refugees is resettlement that ends the cycle of displacement by resolving their plight so that they can lead normal lives. A durable solution is a central part of the UNHCR's mandate to solve the problem of refugees as an essential element of international
protection where there are threats to the fundamental rights in the country of the refuge. Where threats to the life and /or personal safety of refugees exist, resettlement may be the only solution.

These refugees are entitled to emergency resettlement as an instrument of international protection. Resettlement is a guarantee for the legal and physical protection of refugees.
Resettlement may offer the only means to preserve fundamental human rights and to guarantee protection when refugees are faced with threats which seriously jeopardize their
continued stay in a country of refuge and their home country.

Regards,

Peter Bhatti

Chairman

International Christian Voice Canada

Member of EAC (Canada's Office of Religious freedom)

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