06/28/2016, 11.13
PAKISTAN
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Lahore, Christian pastor accused of blasphemy; his family tortured

by Kamran Chaudhry

Pastor Adnan Prince was accused of writing anti-Islam comments on a religious book in 2013. He is still imprisoned. His elder brother was abused, slapped, beaten with batons and leather slippers in police custody. The Government of Pakistan signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture but there is still no law to criminalize custodial torture.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The brother of a Protestant pastor, now in prison, recounted the “inhuman” brutality he himself suffered for 32 days in a police station in the Punjab capital. Pastor Adnan Prince was accused of writing anti-Islam comments on a religious book in 2013. His brother, mother and two relatives were arrested after he fled the city following the allegation. He appeared before the Superintendent of Police a month later and was later sent to Camp Jail, Lahore.

Irfan Prince now visits the pastor, his younger brother, every Wednesday in jail or during court hearings. He has been living with his aunt after his mother died of a heart attack in her sleep last August. “She used to cry and pray for her son in jail. The depression took her away”, Irfan, 32, told Asia News.

Two years ago Irfan, who worked at a glass shop, was reached by his pastor brother. “On October 9, 2013 while I was away, one of my Muslim colleagues gave him a book titled Mein ney Bible sey poocha Qur’an kyun jaley (I asked the Bible why the Qur’an should burn). The next day he showed me the book claiming my brother wrote notes on several pages against Islam and underlined several paras. He later submitted it to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a banned Islamist organization which published the book”, said Prince.

Three days later, a team from Township police station arrested the elder brother (Irfan Prince). He was abused, slapped, beaten with batons and leather slippers in police custody to produce his younger brother (the balsfemy accused pastor Adnan Prince).

“I was hand cuffed and shackled all the time. They used to kick me whenever I tried to sleep. In order to use toilet, I was instructed to inform two hours before and they would only remove the shackles at that time. The marks on my wrists stayed for two years”, said Irfan. Policemen accused the Christian accountant: “Only Christian can do such heinous act”.

“They released me when my brother was arrested but kept my money. For several weeks, I kept circling the police station and only got the money after writing an application to Capital City Police Officer,” Irfan adds.

Prince spoke to AsiaNews at June 27 protest organized by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at Lahore Press Club. He was among 30 protestors who demanded the government to fulfill its commitments under convention against torture.

The Government of Pakistan signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UN CAT) on April 17, 2008 and ratified it in 2010. Still there is no law to criminalize custodial torture in the country.  The Senate of Pakistan passed the Torture and Custodial Death (Punishment) Bill, 2014 last year but It is still pending in the National Assembly.

“We demand a complete ban on torture, it is a clear crime. It is government responsibility to compensate the victims of torture. Similarly the practice of beating protesters must be stopped, this is not crowd management”, said Nadeem Anthony, a Christian human rights lawyer. 

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