Asian Human Rights Commission appeals to send letters to President Musharraf on Sangla Hill incident.

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Hong Kong. November 21, 2005. AHRC appeals to concerned Christians, Muslims, Hindus and other religious communities to write to President of Pakistan and other administration officials to express their concern on incident of Sangla Hill. We update AHRC appeal letter for copying and sending to relevant offices in Pakistan.
DETAILED INFORMATION:

Name of the victims: The Christian community in Sangla Hills, Pakistan
Alleged perpetrators: A mob consisting of one to two thousand persons
Date of the incident: 12 November 2005
Place of the incident: Sangla Hills in Pakistan

On 12 November 2005 at about 10.30 in the morning a mob attacked and destroyed three churches (Catholic, Salvation Army and United Presbyterian), a Sister`s Convent, St Anthony`s School building, a girl`s hostel and a Pastor`s house in Sangla Hills, Pakistan. The mob estimated to have been between one and two thousand persons strong, stayed in the area of Sagla Hills for over an hour and caused massive destruction to properties.

There is evidence that the attacks seemed planned and organised as the attackers were brought to the site in buses according to several eyewitnesses. 450 Christian families living in Sangla Hills were forced to leave their homes and evacuate the area the night before due to the severe intimidation and threats they received from the locals. They only dared to return after the mob had left. Two houses belonging to the relatives of the person accused of desecrating the Holy Quran were ransacked.

The incident took place after an alleged desecration of the Holy Quran on November 11, by one Yousaf Masih who allegedly threw a burning matchstick into the Quran Mahal situated in the Sangla Hill stadium, which subsequently caught fire. This resulted in some copies of the Holy Quran being burnt to ashes. Yousaf Masih is currently missing and according to press reports, his brother Salim Masih was detained a day before. To date, an investigation into the allegations has still not taken place. According to initial information and a newspaper report from DAWN, the allegations of desecration of the Holy Quran were motivated. The accusations were made as a result of settling a dispute regarding gambling debts between the accusers and the accused, and had nothing to do with the alleged desecration of the Holy Quaran.

The SHO Saddar was duly informed about the tension and a request for protection was made by Fr. Samson Dilawar, the local Catholic priest of Sangla Hills, at least 12 hours before the incident.
Apparently, police have arrested 80 people for taking part in the rioting. Hindu, Sikh and Muslim leaders have joined church leaders in condemning the outbreak of violence. Recently a protest was held by the Christian Lawyers Association Pakistan (CLAP) for solidarity with the Sangla Hill Christian community. The lawyers raised slogans against fundamentalist and biased attitudes of the law enforcement agencies towards Christians, against the Blasphemy law and other discriminatory laws in Pakistan. They demanded that the government must guarantee the protection of properties and lives of Christians in Pakistan. They said that if the Christians of Pakistan are not provided with security by the government according to the Pakistani Constitution then they would contact the International Court of Justice.

In the wake of the earthquake tragedy in Pakistan, when people are trying to participate in relief activities, including many Christian organisations that are working with dedication, such action by the mob antagonises the situation for the people of Pakistan. This situation calls for serious action on the part of everybody concerned with the well being of the country.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send an appeal letter to the President of Pakistan and other government officials below asking for immediate action to protect the vulnerable religious minorities in Pakistan.

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Sample letter:

Dear General Musharraf

PAKISTAN: Desecration and destruction of churches and Christian property after blasphemy allegations at Sangla Hills, Pakistan

Name of the victims: The Christian community in Sangla Hills, Pakistan
Alleged perpetrators: A mob consisting of one to two thousand persons
Date of the incident: 12 November 2005
Place of the incident: Sangla Hills in Pakistan

I am writing to voice my concern and dismay at the information I have received regarding the desecration and destruction of churches and Christian property in the area of Sangla Hills. According to the information, on 12 November 2005, a mob estimated about one to two thousand person strong attacked numerous Christian properties after hearing about the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran by a Christian. Such an attack caused the damage of three Churches, a Sister`s Convent, St. Anthony`s School, a girl`s hostel and a Pastor`s house.

There is evidence that the attacks seemed planned and organised as the attackers were brought to the site in buses according to several eyewitnesses. 450 Christian families living in Sangla Hills were forced to leave their homes and evacuate the area the night before due to the severe intimidation and threats they received from the locals. They have only dared to come back after the mob had left. Two houses belonging to the relatives of the person accused of desecrating the Holy Quran were ransacked.

The incident took place after an alleged desecration of the Holy Quran on November 11, by one Yousaf Masih who allegedly threw a burning matchstick into the Quran Mahal situated in the Sangla Hill stadium, which subsequently caught fire. This resulted in some copies of the Holy Quran being burnt to ashes. Yousaf Masih is currently missing and according to press reports, his brother Salim Masih was detained a day before. At the moment, an investigation into the allegations still has not taken place.

According to initial information the allegations of desecration of the Holy Quran were motivated. The accusations were made as a result of settling a dispute regarding gambling debts between the accusers and the accused, and had nothing to do with the alleged desecration of the Holy Quaran.

Whilst welcoming the arrest of some 80 of the alleged perpetrators, what concerns me more is the safety of the religious minorities such as the Christians in Pakistan. This case demonstrates that the laws in Pakistan are not sufficient enough to afford proper protection to them. There needs to be more stringent rules for law enforcement officials to follow since one questions the impartiality of the police who seem to have been negligent in this case. They have failed to prevent or quell the mob from destroying the Christian property. The first step the government can take to attain religious equality among the peoples of Pakistan would be to repeal the blasphemy laws since they are the main source and tool for creating social, sectarian and inter-religious disharmony in the country. The government should also take affirmative steps to educate the masses about tolerance and peace, for example by removing religious biases in the syllabus and media policy and repealing the discriminatory laws. Finally, I ask that a full and speedy investigation is initiated into the allegations of desecration of the Holy Quran and into the mob who destroyed the Christian property.

I look forward to your intervention in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

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SEND A LETTER TO:

General Pervez Musharraf
President
Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
Email: CE@pak.gov.pk

SEND COPIES TO:

1. Mrs Saira Karim
Joint Secretary for Law, Justice and Human Rights
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: + 92 51 9202819
Fax: + 92 51 9203119

2. Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao
Minister of the Interior
#404, 4/F., R Block,
Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624

3. Dr. Muhammad Shoaib Suddle
Deputy General (BPR&D)
National Police Bureau
Old Navel Headquarter,
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9202963

4. Ms. Asma Jahangir
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief
c/o Office Of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations at Geneva
8-14 ave de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: (+41 22) 917 9006
E-mail: freedomofreligion@ohchr.org
or to: urgent-action@ohchr.org (please include in the subject box: Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief)

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)


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"Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" By Nazir S Bhatti

On demand of our readers, I have decided to release E-Book version of "Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" on website of PCP which can also be viewed on website of Pakistan Christian Congress www.pakistanchristiancongress.org . You can read chapter wise by clicking tab on left handside of PDF format of E-Book.

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