Conference Held in the United Nations on Persecution of Pakistani Christian Minorities

GENEVA, March 13, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
A conference on Persecution of Pakistani Minorities was held on Monday, 12th March 2018 in United Nations during the 37th Session of UN Human Rights Council. The conference was held with the objective of drawing the attention of the international community to the increasing violence and killings of Christians in Pakistan. Dr Mario Silva, Chairman of International Forum for Rights & Security moderated the event, while the speakers included Ms. Salma Bhatti & Ms. Shazia Khokhar, both Christians from Pakistan. Naveed Walter, the President of Human Rights Focus Pakistan joined the conference through Skype.

Opening the conference, Mario Silva stated that Pakistan's poor human rights record vis-a-vis Christians was evident from the fact that it ranked 5th on Open Doors 2017 World Watch list of 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. He referred to the case of Sharoon Masih, the 17-year-old Christian boy of MC Model Boys Government High School in the Vehari District of Pakistan's Punjab, who was beaten to death by his classmates last September for allegedly drinking water from the dispenser used by Muslim boys. Dr Silva stated that this incident was a reflection of how Pakistani society treats its Christian community.

Ms. Salma Bhatti, the Swiss representative of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, spoke on the issue of forced conversion of Christian women in Pakistan. She informed that cases of forced conversions, where young Christian girls were kidnapped, converted to Islam and married to Muslim men, are a frequent occurrence. According to her, most of these Christian girls were from the economically weaker section, and hence were unable to legally seek assistance against this.

Ms. Shazia Khokhar, also a human rights defender speaking on Pakistan's infamous blasphemy laws, said that these laws had become a tool used against religious minorities. She spoke on the well-known case of Asia Bibi, an illiterate Christian berry picker who had been accused of blasphemy and served a death sentence for drinking water from a cup used by Muslims. Ms Shazia stated that a person charged with blasphemy would either need to flee the country of face death, often at the hands of a mob.

Naveed Walter, who has been working with the Christian community in Pakistan since 1994 accused Pakistani authorities for being unable to protect Christians. Referring to Pakistan as a failed state, he stated that the country was increasingly been influenced by extremist Islamic groups who were inculcating hate and intolerance among the people against the religious minorities.

The conference was attended by more than 60 persons including UN officials, human rights activists, diplomats and journalists from across the world.

About the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities

EOPM is a human rights organisation which raises its voice against atrocities done on minorities in countries including Pakistan. EOPM has repeatedly expressed concern at attacks on non-Muslims over allegations of blasphemy and desecration of religious scriptures. For more information, please visit: http://eopm.org/

SOURCE European Organization for Pakistani Minorities

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