06/27/2022, 16.38
PAKISTAN
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Attack against Christians in Faisalabad after they refused workplace discrimination

by Shafique Khokhar

Sattar Masih and his son Azhar worked at the mansion of a Muslim landowner. When they quit, they began to receive threats. Khalida Parveen, Sattar’s wife and Azhar’s mother, was beaten and injured. A first court hearing was held a few days ago thanks to Human Rights Focus Pakistan.

Faisalabad (AsiaNews) – A group of Muslims attacked a Christian family after they refused to work for them; as a result, the latter sought legal assistance from Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP), an advocacy group.

Sattar Masih and his son Azhar worked at Thikriwala, near Faisalabad, at the residence of Khuram Yasin, a Muslim landowner. Because of discrimination and acts of violence against them, both father and son quit.

Yasin wanted them to continue to work for him, but after yet another refusal in late March, he accused the Masih of stealing a prized chicken worth 210,000 rupees (US$ 1,000). At Yasin's request, police arrested Azhar but was forced to release him for lack of evidence.

A month later, under pressure from the landowner’s religious and political contacts, the police filed a first information report against the family of Masih Azhar, and re-arrested him.

His father, Sattar, and his mother, Khalida Parveen, went to Khurram Yasin's home to ask him to review the charges against them, insisting that they were innocent. At that point, they were attacked.

Muslim employees attacked the Christians with guns, knives and sticks; Khalida suffered a knife wound to her right arm while a woman violently pulled off her earrings.

Sattar Masih filed a complaint at the Thikriwala police station submitting his wife’s medical report from the Faisalabad hospital where she had been taken. The police did nothing.

As her condition worsened, Khalida had to return to the hospital. At that point, Sattar decided to turn to HRFP. Thanks to the group’s intervention, Azhar was released from prison on 7 May, but now the family started to receive death threats.

Once again, the Masih went to the police and once again their complaint fell on deaf ears.

In late May, Khalida and Sattar petitioned the district court, and at a hearing on Friday, it ordered the police to subpoena the accused ensuring that they appear at the next hearing.

“The behaviour of the police, authorities and law enforcement agencies has been dismissive and biased," said Naveed Walter, president of Human Rights Focus Pakistan, speaking to AsiaNews.

Slamming the attack against Sattar Masih and Khalida Parveen for their religious beliefs, he said that, “new legislation is required and so is a ban on workplace discrimination. In several cases, members of minorities have been abused at work,” he added.

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