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No convictions two years after deadly as...

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No convictions two years after deadly assault on Pakistani Christians

Country/Region: Pakistan, South and East Asia

If those killed are non-Muslims, the killers are sure to walk free

Pakistani newspaper, Tribune
Burnt-Building-Gojra_4X3.jpg
Dozens of Christians homes
were blown up in Gojra

Nearly two years after a Muslim onslaught on a Christian settlement in Pakistan in which eight Christians were killed, none of the accused has been convicted and the case has ground to a halt.

Over 800 Muslims raided a Christian community in Gojra, Punjab, on 31 July, 2009; they looted property, blew up 60 houses using special explosives, and fired indiscriminately. Seven members of one family were among the eight killed.

The onslaught was an act of collective retribution for alleged “blasphemy” following rumours that a Quran had been burned during a Christian wedding ceremony.

There were initially 70 suspects and 185 witnesses but the case has been unravelling as witnesses kept slipping out. All but two of the suspects had been granted bail before arrest by the court.

And last week the two who had been detained, Atif alias Neeru and Ghulam Abbas, were bailed by a special Anti-Terrorism Court in Faisalabad, with criminal proceedings deferred for a year. The decision was taken after five witnesses left the country.

In an editorial about the case, a Pakistan newspaper, the Tribune, said: “Given the time lag, it is unlikely that anyone will ever be convicted for what happened in Gojra ... If those killed are non-Muslims, the killers are sure to walk free.”

The suspects belong to a sectarian organisation with links to Al-Qaeda. The Tribune recalled other cases in which the accused was connected to Al-Qaeda; it said witnesses have pulled out because of fear of being killed and judges have complained that they are not protected against threats.

The paper called for change to the country’s Anti-Terrorism Act to provide effective protection for judges and witnesses.

Barnabas Aid sent aid to the victims of the Gojra riots, which devastated the Christian community. Minhas Hameed’s 75-year-old father was the first to be killed when he was shot in the head. The rest of the family stayed in the house as Hameed rushed his father to hospital. Six other members were burned to death as the mob torched dozens of houses in the settlement.

Two days before Gojra was attacked, around 50 Christian homes were destroyed by Muslims in the nearby village of Korian, leaving more than a quarter of the Christian residents homeless. This incident was also linked to the Quran-burning blasphemy allegation.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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  • Cry out to the Lord for Christians in the Central African Republic (CAR) who have been driven from their homes by the violence that has engulfed their country. Attacks by Islamist Séléka militants and retaliation from “anti-balaka” militias has generated a huge humanitarian crisis in which around two million people, many of them Christians, are in need of emergency assistance. Give thanks for the work of Barnabas partners who have been providing food rations to hundreds of displaced believers in the capital, Bangui, and distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to thousands in various regions. Pray that the aid will reach those who need it most, and that the Lord will comfort the relatives and friends of the thousands who have been killed in the fighting. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Apr 2014 00:00

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  • Pray for a church leader in Sri Lanka, S.S. Johnpillai, who was threatened at gunpoint by attackers who claimed to be Special Forces officers. The minister was in a hut next to his church building in Guadalupe, Trincomolee when, he said, the men “appeared out of nowhere”. The intruders put a gun to Johnpillai’s head and accused him of holding a Communion service in honour of the founder of the Tamil Tigers, the government’s opponents in the country’s long and bloody civil war. The government had that day made it a criminal offence to commemorate the group. The gunmen ignored Johnpillai’s protests that he had not dedicated Communion to the group’s founder, and they threatened to shoot him. Ask the Lord to support and strengthen Johnpillai as he recovers from this terrifying ordeal. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Apr 2014 00:00

  • Lift up to the Lord persecuted Christians in Sri Lanka, where at least 65 anti-Christian incidents took place during 2013, including repeat attacks on several believers and their property in October 2013. However, a Sri Lankan government minister from a Buddhist nationalist party denied the accounts, saying that they might be “made up”. The minister claimed that Sri Lankans are “one family … trying to live together after a long civil war”. Pray that the Sri Lankan government will recognise the danger that our brothers and sisters face from militant Buddhists and that the authorities will provide effective protection for vulnerable Christians. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Mon, Apr 2014 00:00

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