Pakistani Christians stage demonstration outside the United Nations to mark atrocities by Pakistani Authorities


Two hundred Pakistani Christianshave gathered at the Broken Chair, Geneva to raise their voice in protest of Pakistan Government’s human rights abuses against Pakistani Christians. Flocking to Geneva on the same weekend as the Laver Cup, the demonstrators’ mere presence highlights a much deeper, infinitely more startling reality.

The buildings here drip with excess. Boasting shiny, glamorous facades, the city itself attracts wealth, power, and prestige like moths to a lamp in the dark—the UN buildings and diplomatic centres created to ensure and advance universal human rights are no exception. But the march this morning illustrates a dangerous juxtaposition: behind those shimmering glass windows and guarded doors, there is emptiness and disregard. Petitioning powerhouse international institutions who are mandated to assist vulnerable populations across the world is absolutely futile when those institutions have repeatedly ignored the cries of the very people they claim to protect.

Member of the European Parliament (MEP) HerveJuvin of France and Mario Silva, Former Canadian Member of Parliament (MP) and Executive Director for the International Forum for Rights and Security in Canada, each addressed the audience regarding the issue of Christian persecution in Pakistan at the stage event after the march past.

Though certainly not the only community suffering hostility, discrimination, and heavy-handed abuse at the hands of the Pakistani government and its state security forces, the Christian community in Pakistan is arguably one of the communities attacked most often. The persecution and abuse faced by Pakistani Christians is cross-cutting and intersectional. “There is no Christian boy or girl, man or woman, father or mother, grandmother or grandfather who can be considered safe from the Pakistani blasphemy laws,” Silva asserted. MEP Juvin similarly declared, “All Christians [in Pakistan] suffer frominstitutionalized discrimination, illustrated by the fact that occupations seen as low, dirty, and derogatory are officially reserved for Christians. Many Christians are very poor, and some are victims of bonded labour and forced to clean toilets”

Pakistan’s blasphemy law plays an integral role in the institutionalized persecution facing the Christian community, as well as other minorities in Pakistan. “The blasphemy law allows any non-Muslim to be accused of blasphemy or insulting Islam quite easily, without any solid evidence, and often based on simple story telling and vindictiveness,” said MEP Juvin. “Any judicial system that is not evidence-based,” he declared, “cannot be called a judicial system at all.”

The presence of MEP Juvin at both the march and subsequent speaking event is significant, as the European Union (EU) has a special working relationship with Pakistan called the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+). GSP+ gives Pakistan full removal of tariffs on almost one third of EU tariff lines. In order to even be considered for the preferential status, Pakistan is required to both ratify and effectively implement 27 different international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance. When allegations arise, that Pakistan has breached these terms, the EU is supposed to send a team to monitor the situation and develop appropriate solutions.

Unfettered support and encouragement from the EU even in the face of widespread human rights allegations promises that there will be no initiative from the Pakistani government to actually address its abusive terrorization of Christians and other minorities in Pakistan. Though the European Parliament issued a resolution against religious persecution in Pakistan in April of 2014 and again in June of 2017, not nearly enough diplomatic and political action has been taken to stem Pakistan’s human rights abuses against some of its most vulnerable people. MEP Juvin declared, “We politicians of Europe are gathered here today to remind the world that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws must be changed to ensure that Christians in Pakistan are no longer persecuted.” In the words of Mr Silva, “The world has failed if it remains deaf to the voices of almost 4 million Pakistani Christians who live their daily lives in fear.”

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Marching for their lives: Hundreds unite in Geneva to denounce Islamabad’s Human Rights abuses against Pakistani Christians

Amassing outside Geneva’s historic Palais Wilson on Saturday morning, approximately 200 demonstrators gathered to protest the brutal mistreatment of their Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan. The Palais—a former hotel—now serves as the headquarters of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), a specialised UN […]