08/25/2009, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Punjab: Christian victims of the massacres in Gojra reported by police

by Sarah John
Police claim they were involved in the violence, in which eight Christians were burned alive. Survivors accuse the police of inaction. Activist for human rights: the counter-charge motivated by police "revenge", they want to cover the real culprits. An Anglican bishop among the suspects.
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – From persecuted victims to under suspects. That is the fate of a group of Christians from Gojra, Punjab, attacked on August 3 by a mob of thousands of angry Muslims. Fundamentalists burned houses and burnt alive eight people and now police officers accused of failing to assist, have denounced the victims of the violence.
In the aftermath of the massacre, the Christians accused the police of not intervening to stop the assailants. In the days that preceded the attack, the police had received reports of possible violence by Islamic extremists, but did not take any action to avert the tragedy.  
In response, officers in Gojra have in turn reported 29 Christians and 100 unidentified persons, for alleged "involvement" in the violence.
Among the Christian personalities targeted by police are also the Anglican Bishop John Samuel of the Church of Pakistan of Faisalabad and Finyas Paul Randhawa, a representative of the city council.
Outraged, human rights activists have called the decision by the police a “revenge” attack against the victims of violence. "We condemn outright this move by police" dennounces Atif Jamil, director of a local NGO. "It is a revenge move by agents and district administration against the Christian victims of the accidents in Gojra”.  
The activist adds that these accusations are "baseless", made with the sole purpose of "covering the responsibilities of the police and undermining the case against the culprits." He stresses that "the involvement in the case of Bishop John Samuel, a Christian religious leader, is wrong because none of our religious leaders were involved in the violence."
Atif Jamil further denounces the “ambiguous” behaviour of the government, which on one hand "started the process of reconstruction in Gojra" but in the other "threatens" the local Christian community, who still bears the "scars" of the violence they suffered.
 
 
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