ASIA/PAKISTAN - Land-grabbing and assault on Pakistani Christians in Sindh

Tuesday, 3 January 2017 land grabbing   religious minorities   human rights   islam   poverty  


Hyderabad (Agenzia Fides) - For Christians in Pakistan the new year opens with a painful issue: mafia organizations in cahoots with the police in Sukkur, in the district of Hyderabad (Sindh province in southern Pakistan) planned an attack against Christian inhabitants in Sukkur, trying to drive them out from their properties: houses and land.
Christians are victims of a widespread phenomenon in Pakistan, land-grabbing (misappropriation of land), so some powerful landowners, with political support, arbitrarily confiscate the lands of poor and vulnerable farmers. The phenomenon is quite common in Sindh, where the seized lands are sold with high profits.
As Fides learns, the Christian, Munawar Gill, a resident in the area, and former official of the Anglican diocese of Hyderabad, explained that in recent weeks some men presented themselves in the Christian settlement in Sukkur, with false documentation and claiming the right of the property. "It is not hard to buy fake documents in Pakistan", says Gill. On December 21, some police officers asked Christian families ownership certificates, without which they would have had to leave their homes.
On December 31, about 20 men, some wearing police uniforms and some in civilian clothes, started knocking on the door of Christian homes and those who opened the doors were intimidated and beaten. "Women and children were abused and about 20 people were injured, some seriously", says Gill to Fides.
After the attack, on January 1, Christian residents went to the police to register a complaint, demanding adequate protection. About 4,500 people gathered in front of the Sukkur Press Club to denounce the arbitrariness suffered by Christians in Sukkur. A note sent to Fides by the NGO Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) condemned the "horrible and brutal action" and accident "while Christians were preparing to celebrate the New Year" urging the authorities to enforce the rule of law to stop "land mafia" that targets the most vulnerable communities, trampling on the basic rights of Pakistani citizens. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 03/01/2016)