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From Our Member National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan – Press Release: CCJP strongly condemns hate mongering behaviour of FIA authorities in Shahdara blasphemy case

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(28 February 2018) – The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) an organization of Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference strongly condemns the torture and inhuman treatment of Patras Masih and Sajid Masih by the FIA officials in Lahore. Such acts of viciousness and hate mongering behavior is a gross human rights violation while being against the international obligations for the protection of religious minorities and also against the Constitution of Pakistan.

This case of torture and hatred commenced last week with an accusation against Patras Masih, 17 years old, living in Shahdara for allegedly sharing “blasphemous content” on social media on January 16, 2018. As a result Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR) and other religious parties blocked the Shahdara intersection, incited violence against the family and demanded the arrest of Patras Masih. After the pressure from TLYR an FIR under section 295-C of PPC was registered against the accused on February 19, 2018. In order to investigate the case further, the FIA took the accused’s cousin, Sajid Masih 24 years into custody for questioning on February 23, 2018 by sub inspector Khalid Saeed. As per the sources and media reports around 6:00pm, Sajid jumped off the fourth floor of the FIA building as a last resort to escape after being subjected to torture and humiliation by asking him to perform oral sex with the accused Patras Masih. This incident was initially denied by the police officials. However, this news has been widely highlighted on social media. Sajid is currently in the hospital with broken legs and serious head injuries. It is reported that even in hospital he is being discriminated against and doctors are not operating on him, making excuses and using delaying tactics.

Chairperson CCJP His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Arshad, National Director Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) and Executive Director Mr. Cecil S. Chaudhry expressed their serious concern over the ill-treatment of marginalized groups by law enforcement agencies, specifically religious minorities. The hatred and systemic discrimination fabricated in our society needs to be ended through state intervention in order to protect the persecuted groups. They also demanded that serious reforms in light of human rights standards is required for law enforcement authorities and judiciary, which have failed in their duty to protect minorities. 

His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Arshad stated that the Supreme Court should take immediate Suo Motu action to withdraw FIR against Sajid Masih for attempted suicide because in the light of evidences he was attempting to escape from the physical and psychological torture while also being forced to sexually abuse his minor cousin. The state should conduct an independent inquiry, ensuring a fair trial and access to justice for the accused.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) stressed that security should be provided to the accused and their family in order to prevent the real and present threat of violence and take strict action against the perpetrators.

Mr. Cecil S. Chaudhry highlighted that during 2017 there have been 18 official recorded cases of blasphemy. Since 1985 there have been 1505 official registered cases of blasphemy resulting into mob attacks on the minority communities. He further highlighted that throughout the history, blasphemy law has been misused to target minority groups. Therefore, it is important that such discriminatory practices and behaviours should be immediately checked by the state in order to protect the religious minority communities in Pakistan.