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EU Ministers hold unofficial visit to uncover truth about persecution of Christians in Pakistan

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 Shamim Masih and Peter Van Dalen MEP

One way which Churches and Christian groups can contribute to the work of the BPCA (Click here)  

ISLAMABAD:

By Shamim Masih 

"Christians living in Europe care about Pakistani Christians and know about their suffering. We have come here to talk to the Pakistani Government to urge them to take better care of your rights." said MEP Peter Van Dalen, lead delegate of the European Conservatives and Reformists unofficial trip to Pakistan. 

The European Parliament delegation was led by MEP Peter van Dalen (Netherlands), MEP Arne Gericke (Germany) and MEP Marek Jurek (Poland) visited Pakistan between 2 -5 November, 2015. The delegation were on a fact finding mission on the blasphemy laws in Pakistan and their application. They met high interlocutors from the government and representatives of civil society including our own Shamim Masih reporter for the BPCA.

During their meeting with advisors to the Prime Minister Sartaj Aziz, the EU delegation undertook a thorough review of the blasphemy law and its current application, in particular section 295-B & C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Peter Van Dalen, a lead delegate said:

"The EU believes that there is now momentum for Pakistan to start closing the dark chapter of its blasphemy legislation. By doing so, Pakistan would apply its founding principles, as well as its international obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the conditions attached to GSP+ trade benefits granted by the EU."

The EU parliament delegation handed over a letter to senior Pakistani officials including Sartaj Aziz and other high officials and demanded the safety of minority rights. It said “the legislation which is supposed to protect and safeguard instead has drenched large parts of Pakistan’s society in fear. During the recent decade the security situation has worsened in Pakistan. Minorities of the country feel insecure in Pakistan and sadly Pakistan is amongst the top ten source countries of people seeking asylum in the EU.”

Speaking to the gathering at H-9 Christian colony later during the deeleagtion Peter Van Dalen said:

"I can see suffering from your face and it is much more than we imagined before we left for Pakistan. But our saviour Christ has set us free from bondage and misery. We want to let you know that we care for you and came here to help you. We are here to plead with the government of Pakistan for the safety and swift release of Asia Bibi and the hundreds of victims accused of blasphemy from all sects."

He added: "We have suggested a number of reforms to the blasphemy law which will be submitted to the government of Pakistan"

Blasphemy legislation in Pakistan was sanctioned to protect and safeguard victims, instead over time it has only served to bring fear into large parts of Pakistan's society.  During this decade the security situation blasphemy allegations have reached a peak and been the cause of mob violence on individuals and often Christian communities. Pakistan is currently positioned in the top ten source countries of people seeking asylum in the EU. 

 
Shamim Masih and Mehwish Bhatti represented the British Pakistan Christian Association and  shared concerns about slum settlers in Islamabad and other areas of Pakistan. Shamim briefly described the migration of displaced people from the village of Rimsha Masih, who was accused of a blasphemy in 2011 despite being mentally retarded and aged 11 years old.  Despite initial reticence the global Muslim community joined voices with international outcry against the false charges, when a deputy Imam testified that the Imam who had charges registered against the child victim, had torn shreds of the Quran to implicate Rimsha. 

Due to a mass hate campaign and a mob attack in her home town, local villagers  gave up their homes and all their possessions and moved to a forest where they took temporary shelter under trees, have settled more permanently in tents at the slums of H9. When they first moved to the slums the families were provided food and warm clothes via the BPCA, but there situation has not improved and thus far despite the tragedy that caused their current fate, no government help has been forthcoming.  As the winter season approaches and the temperature declines to minus two degrees these poor people will have to suffer the climate without electricity, gas and no clean water.  

 
The delegation assured the slum settlers that the European Union will support the slums of the capital as well the people persecuting in Pakistan. Peter Van Dalen also prayed for the safety of community and better future. He was also thankful to BPCA representative Shamim Masih for arranging their visit. 

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA said:

"It is enccouraging that such a powerful body in the west has taken an interest in the plight of Pakistani Christians.  The fact that these ministers have visited the deprived Christians of H-9 Islambad and promised change will bring these long suffering vicctims great hope.  I pray that the action promised makes the lives of victims more bearable and that Pakistan authorities do not react to the invite to this community as anti-Paksitani."

 



Shamim Masih with the EU Parliamentarians as they addressed slum dwellers of Islamabad Colony H-9


Crowds gathered full of hope.


Prayers for hep finally come to fruition


Eager to help EU Ministers promise change


EU Minsters applaund the bravery of Pak-Christians


Women and children believe change is coming







A rough place to live.
 




BPCA sign at entrane of community of H-9.  Christiand here have been supporteed by the BPCA since the villagers off Rimsha Masih's community fled her to escapee blasohemy attacks.


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