Police Beat Christian Brick Kiln Workers During Discriminatory Stop and Search
30 Nov -0001
Faisalabad: November 29, 2015. (PCP) On 21st November, 2015 seven Christian brick kiln workers were detained and brutally beaten by local police after they were stopped and searched on their rickshaw journey home. Police officials allegedly snatched the impoverished workers' salary for the week which amounted in total to 16700 rupees (£100). The men were then illegally arrested without any charges and had to be bailed out on the guarantee of a local community leader.
Allah Rakha (47 years), his sons Asif (25 years) and Khurram (17 years) along with four other co-villagers Sittar Masih (38 years), his son Naeem (25 years) a serving Army personnel, Tariq Masih (30 years) and Nadeem Masih (28 years), had all been working at Allah Towaqal Bricks Company located at Adha Sukhaira in the district of Sumandri.
Allaha Rakha told BPCA representative Shamim Masih that they were travelling home by rickshaw late at night after a hard day's toil when three police officials: Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI) Barkat Ali, ASI Allah Dita, and constable Mohammad Razaq stopped them for no apparent reason but for routine inspection. The officers asked them their personal details and where they had come from and going to. The seven men provided all their details but noticed a change in the police behaviour on sharing their Christian names. The officers suddenly turned more aggressive and conducted a search during which they found the pittance of weekly wages paid to the hard working brick kiln labourers which amounted to a measly £100 between them. Despite remonstrations that the money was their weekly wages, the police officers starting beating the innocent men accusing them of being Christian drug dealers and robbers. They then proceeded to arrest them illegally and detained them at Thirkani Police Station in Sumandri.
Allah Rakha said "We pleaded with them for mercy explaining we were just poor bricklayers returning to our homes at Chack 226. We explained that our employer could explain where we obtained our money, but they still beat us with their batons extremely severely. Even when we cried and lay on the floor they continued to beat us, filled with hatred that we were Christians with some money. When we were put in a cell despite our severe wounds they provided no medical aid and we sat in pain, bleeding and catching infections. I led everyone in prayer believing God would release us just as He did with Paul. God answered our prayers after a couple of hours and police staff allowed us to call our community leaders Irfan Masih and Riaz Masih who were able to act as guarantors for us enabling our release and return home."
He added "When we all eventually arrived home our women wept as they saw our wounds. They tended to us and helped us recover, however we have all been badly traumatised and have not yet been back to work. We hope to start back on Monday if our employers have not already given our work away. The police officers have not yet returned our money and we do not know if we will ever get our wages back. We are already poor but this attack destroys our already hard to manage finances. I have seven children, two daughters and five sons. Two of my sons work with me in the brick kilns to feed our family, none of my children ever went to school as we could not afford it. Our lives have been worthless but we thank God for them even then."
Irfan and Riaz have appointed a lawyer Akmal Bhatti who has now submitted an application to the Central Police Officer (CPO) against the ' inhumane behaviour' of the police authorities. Initially there was no response from the local police station so many Christians staged a mass protest rally outside the station on Monday calling for an end to the discriminatory attitude of police authorities towards religious minorities.
Irfan Masih, a local human rights activist, told the BPCA "The Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Malik Shahid has ordered that an inquiry be held against the police officials involved in this inhuman attack. As a community we will fight against the discrimination and brutality of police authorities towards Christians."
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said "Police brutality towards Christians is no secret. We have reported on four suspicious deaths of Christians within police custody during our tenure as a humanitarian NGO, and sadly expect that many others will occur (click here). Lack of interest towards complaints by the Christian minority has created a recognised level of impunity that has exacerbated the situation. The current refusal by police officers to even register an FIR in most cases raised by Christians illustrates that western nation assessments of 'sufficiency of protection' are flawed at best, yet without the influence of Pakistan's big sponsors i.e. Britain, the European Union and the USA the current status quo will continue or reach a nadir. People across the globe simply have to challenge their politicians to intervene on behalf of Pakistani Christians or eventually this attrition will lead to the eradication of Christians in Pakistan."