» 08/19/2013 PAKISTAN Lahore, a 'day of mourning' to assert minorities’ rights by Shafique Khokhar Over 300 people from different walks of life attended the event. Among the requests to the Pakistani government, Constitutional reform and end to the blasphemy laws.
- Reform of Pakistan's Constitution, which still indicates minorities as
"second class citizens", and an end to the anti-blasphemy laws. These
are some of the demands presented to the Islamabad government by civil society and
human rights organizations. More
than 300 people - including young people, teachers, social workers and local
leaders - gathered in front of the Lahore Press Club on August 15, to participate
in a "day of mourning" for the rights of minorities.
event was organized by Human Rights Focus
Pakistan (Hrfp), a Christian organization for Human Rights, Global Human Rights Defense (Ghrd) Pakistan Christian National Party
(MANCP); Centre for Legal Aid Assistance
and Settlement (CLAAS). Significantly,
the organizers chose to hold the rally after the National Day of minorities
(August 11) and Independence Day (14 August).
- Naveed Walter, President of Hrfp, told the crowd - is a day of mourning for
all minorities in Pakistan, because the basic rights and fundamental freedoms
of minorities are easy targets to hit and harass." The
activist also pointed out the serious lack of security in which religious
minorities live, remembering the fire at the Joseph Colony, or the abuse of
anti-blasphemy laws to persecute Christians, as in the case of
minorities in this country - noted Joseph Francis, national director of the
Claas - feel embarrassed to celebrate the National Day for minorities, because
it explicitly shows that these communities are in a more vulnerable
so, he added, "we ask for a reform of the Constitution of Pakistan ,
which unequivocally states that religious minorities are second-class
the end of the event, the participants drew up a list of nine "suggestions"
to be sent to the government. These
include a review anti-blasphemy laws (Article 295 B and C of the Penal Code,
ed) and the cancelation of Articles 2 (Islam is the state religion) and 41-2B
(the presidential candidate must
be a Muslim and over 45 years old) of the Constitution.