05/29/2018, 12.23
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, volume on protection of minority rights in bookstores

by Kamran Chaudhry

The volume is edited by the Christian activist Samuel Payara and will be available from next month. The text aims to publicize a 2014 ruling by former Supreme Court President Tassaduq Hussain Jillani.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - A new book to promote awareness of a ruling by the Pakistani Supreme Court of 2014, which describes the rights of minorities and how to protect them was presented May 26 in the Lahore headquarters of the National Council of Churches in Pakistan. The volume - titled "Landmark Judgment June 19 2014" - is edited by the Christian activist Samuel Payara and will be on the shelves of all the bookstores in the country from next month.

More than 30 activists took part in the launch, including some survivors of the kamikaze attack against the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church in Quetta, in the province of Balochistan, which took place in December 2017. Sajeel Gulzar lost his father Gulzar Bhatti, 45 years old , killed while trying to close the church door to prevent the bomber from making more victims. " We received government compensation but families of 9 other victims are still awaiting. Similarly four families of injured are awaiting government help to treat their loved ones,” he said.“The financial aid can help in the treatment but those who died will not return. We demand necessary steps to stop terror attacks on Churches.”

The book wants to promote awareness among the general public of the 2014 sentence pronounced by Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, former president of the highest judicial body of the country. In it the judge ordered asked the federal government to constitute a National Council for the rights of minorities, discourage hate speech and develop, appropriate curricula at school and college levels to promote a culture of religious and social tolerance among other measures.

The Supreme Court took “Suo Moto” action following 2013 suicide attack on a Peshawar church. More than 100 Christians died and 144 people were injured

Unable to attend the presentation ceremony, yesterday Msgr Sebastian Francis Shaw, archbishop of Lahore presented a copy of the publication to retired Justice Jillani  at his residence. (see photo 3). Catholics have long called on the Pakistani government to apply the judgement and underline the climate of increasing insecurity and persecution of religious minorities. Msgr. Shaw declares: "At the end of this month (31 May) the government [led] by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (Pml-N) will be dissolved but the court verdict was not properly implemented in these five years. We are prayerful that the next government provides relief to religious minorities and all those who are awaiting justice".

The author Samuel Payara, who is also the founder and president of the Implementation Minority Rights Forum (Imrf), accompanied the archbishop. He reports: "The judge told us to keep fighting. His son has also compiled a writ petition [document that activates the legal proceedings in common law, ed] in the Supreme Court on minority rights. The secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association also assured us of full cooperation ". Then he adds: "The General public and even government officials are not aware of these orders. The Court itself was surprised when the Additional Advocate General of Sindh province, on Court query submitted that the desecration of places of worship of minorities was not blasphemous and not an offence. The book is a soft reminder of our rights.”

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