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One Year on Lahore Twin Bomb Attack Victims Remembered

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On a sombre day in Pakistan faithful Christians from both Catholic and Anglican origins remembered the lives lost and injured in the terrible twin church bomb attack that occurred in Youhanabad, Lahore, Pakistan.  

Liturgical events were held at churches across Pakistan this morning.  Christchurch an Anglican church from the Church of Pakistan and "Roman Catholic Church" in Youhanabad both held a joint service from 10:00 this morning (March 15 of 2015).  The event was held in an open field between both churches and included guest speakers from across the Christian sphere and Islamic sphere in Pakistan, including Senator Kamran Michael.  The theme of the event was peace and reconciliation and many spoke of the hope that was created by the many voices from different faiths promoting unity. Later in the afternoon a peace walk took place between the two churches.  Thousands of Christians of all denominations attended both events in a show of solidarity and hope.

British Pakistani Christian Association attended both events, our officer Naveed met with all the victims we have been working with and distributed bouquets of flowers.  In a private event at the end of the evening the victims joined Naveed in a time of prayer and a short candlelight vigil.  The location of this was beside a monument to Akash Masih, who was the youngest security officer and first to respond at the Catholic Church on the day of the bomb attack.

The final death toll in Lahore was close to 30 people and a further 75 were injured, but losses could and should have been much more severe had it not been for the brave volunteer security teams at both churches.  Most of the fatalities were young men who gave up their lives to save the larger congregation at the church, rushing to apprehend the terrorist, despite knowing it would cost them their lives.

Police officers apprehended two Muslim men in the wake of the attack and walked up to the Christian community with them, they told the Christian community the men had been involved in the attack.  At this point some reports state the police gave up the men to the angered Christian community other reports state the Christian community forcibly took the believed terrorists from the Police.  What is known, is that the embittered and hysterical Christians then lynched the two alleged accomplices of the terrorists burned their bodies.  

The Government of Punjab then launched an operation against residents in Youhanabad in conjunction with the local army and police authorities. In the ensuing crackdown more than 900 homes were raided and allegedly looted and over 120 young Christian men arrested. The allegation laid against this vast number of Young Christian men was based on involvement in the lynching.

Today the atmosphere in Youhanabad remains tense and people are afraid to talk about the incident. More than 50 Christian families are still waiting to know the fate of their relatives, on trial for the murder of two men. 

Qaisor Pervaiz, a BPCA supported victim of the bomb attack, who was resuscitated back to life and survived 85% burns despite lack of any special burns unit at Lahore General Hospital (click here), spoke to us at the memorial, he said:

"I thank God for this day, where he has placed Muslims and Christians together talking about peace and unity.  This attack was the most traumatic even that I believe my family will ever have to go through.  God saved me through a miracle and my love for him has grown through the knowledge of his commitment.  I am praying that one day all the people of Pakistan can live together without violence."

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:

"The attack in Lahore is one of many facets of persecution Christians face in Pakistan.  From the cradle to grave they hold pariah status in Pakistan.  They are demonised and caricatured in national curriculum textbooks placing them in an immediate place of suspicion and hatred.  The blasphemy laws are being used as a tool for discrimination oppression and worse still a chance to settle personal grudges form neighbours in their community.  There is little hope in the pervading Pakistani culture for them to attain equal citizenship.  Events like these with speakers from the majority Muslim population, ostensibly help to build bridges but in reality are often simply lip service. The BPCA continues to support victims of this bomb attack and many other persecuted Christians.  We hope one day our services become redundant."


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