Christians from three Pakistani cities converged in Sialkot to demand justice for Tania Mariyam
05 Apr 2017
Sialkot: April 5, 2017. (PCP) Around one hundred Pakistani Christians from the cities of Lahore, Multan and Sialkot converged on Press Club Road in Sialkot, to the Press Club Office, on Saturday 1st April 2017. The protest was organised by the British Pakistani Christian Association to demand justice for Tania Mariyam who was murdered on 23rd January 2017.Despite evidence to the contrary, police initially registered her death as a suicide. The protest was presided over by Mehwish Bhatti BPCA's lead officer in Pakistan.
As protesters held placards they shouted 'Justice for Tania' and rallied outside the press club office hoping media teams would be willing to take up their challenge and call for a review of the police investigation and court process in the murder inquiry for 12 year old Tania Masih found dead in the Upper Chenab Canal, with signs of a possible rape.
Pakistani protest is different to mainstream Muslim protests and in very usual fashion the protest began with a worship service. Protesters opened with a prayer from Yaqoob Masih from Faisalabad, which was then led to the singing of the first worship song from Psalm 20 [dukha de walae meri yehuwa sunae duwa]. After a one hour worship service the protest began in earnest.
Tania's Family was present at the event and they brought wider extended relatives with them.
A guest speaker from Multan Mr. Aamir Bashir Chairman of Voice of Minorities Pakistan (VOMP), spoke of the need for justice to prevent the same injustice happening to other young girls. He called for people of all faiths to rally behind the cause of Tania. He said:
"The monster that killed Tania could and probably will strike again.
"Predators like him target vulnerable young girls. Christian girls are the most vulnerable because statutory agencies ignore their plight.
"However if he this killer saw an isolated Muslim or Hindu girl she would be targeted too. We must unite together as Pakistani's to stop the rot that has beset our country."
Youth Coordinator of VOMP Mr Akhtar Bhatti from Sialkot joined the protest with a local team of activists. He said "To date Convent of Jesus and Mary School has not released the video footage of the last moments of Tania's life. The parents are extremely concerned about this as they believe it could lead to the capture of the murderer.
"By thwarting justice the headship of the school are undermining the reputation of the school. We demand that they release the video evidence even if they find a staff member was involved in the school. It is the right thing to do and will help with police investigation."
Tania's elder sister Haniya Gill gave an emotional speech. She said "My young sister had no chance in surviving this incident. She was only 12 years old, trusting and slight of figure. No-one know what happened in the last moments of her life, however, it could not have been pleasant.
"A cruel and wicked individual has taken her life away from her, though she had hardly begun to even understand the world.
"Tania was a happy girl, with many friends and she had a bright future ahead of her as she was doing well at school.
"There is no known reason at all that she would have taken her own life, yet our local police halted the initial investigation into her murder by initially stating she had committed suicide.
"This act undermines their role to protect citizens of Pakistan and may have led to Tania's murderer escaping justice.
"Our family thanks those who dared to join us at our protest and we demand that a judicial inquiry take place into the actions of the police, whose negligence has permitted a man with a very twisted spirit to continue to prowl for vulnerable girls."
Mehwish Bhatti, Lead Pakistan Officer for the British Pakistani Christian Association,said "This protest is the first of many that will be held in support of this family. Police and Court failures have ruined almost every chance of catching the culprit of this dreadful murder.
"Moreover, until Tania's school administration provides all the CCTV footage from within the school grounds not just the external grounds the family will not relinquish their campaign. It is incredulous that too date police have not yet obtained a warrant for retrieval for the video evidence and allowed the family to view the recording."
A letter requesting review of the police investigation, court process and release of video footage was delivered to Tania's school, Sialkot Magistrates Court and Sumbrial Police Station.