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Pakistani Christians Forced into Refugee Camps

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By Joseph Keenan, Christian Post Correspondent
August 15, 2009|5:14 pm

Far away from Gojra, where a Muslim mob recently killed eight Christians, in the heart of Islamabad, about 2,000 Pakistani Christians are “forced to live in a refugee camp.”

Their only crime is that they are Christians. Among the displaced Christians, two have already died due to poor hygiene.

The displaced Christians told CNN correspondents, who visited them recently, that the government had kicked them off their land without warning only because they are Christian. However, the government has told a different story, saying that they were given plenty of warning. Moreover, the government said they will take care of this problem, which they claim they are well aware of.

“We are constitutionally bound to protect the life and property of the minorities and to look after the interests of the minorities in this country," Shahbaz Bhatti, the minister of minority affairs and a Pakistani Christian, said, according to CNN. “Because they played a role in the founding, they are equal citizens of the country. Yes, there is a problem, but we are trying to solve those problems.”

However, Pakistan Christian Post (PCP) reported that Christians in the country, led by editor Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti, said Shahbaz Bhatti has done nothing for Christians in the country. They have demanded the resignation of Bhatti.

“We urge government to force Shahbaz Bhatti to resign from ministry as he failed to present an effective Resolution in National assembly on August 13, to ensure our rights,” says a public statement, which was released before Pakistan Independence Day on Aug. 14.

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“Twenty million Christians are living like slaves in Islamic Republic of Pakistan: Where is freedom for Christians? 62nd Pakistan Day on August 14, 2009, was day to remember our Martyrs burnt alive by fundamental Muslims.”

The minority Christians have often complained that they are being mistreated in the country.

The 2,000 displaced Christians have ended up living in tents for the past three months in the middle of nowhere and in the scorching heat (110 degrees).

People are dying of poverty in this camp regardless of any religious strife, CNN reported. Two have died since the group settled here, and children lay totally exposed to the sun, suffering slowly.

There is a growing fear that Typhoid will come to this camp. Dr. Rixwan Taj, who accompanied the correspondents, said “the conditions are ripe.”

"I think there's a danger here, especially with some of the younger children, that they could just die from dehydration or from all kinds of infections."

“I am very surprised, really because this is the center of Islamabad, just right in the center. And every facility is not but 10 minutes from here,” he added.

Christians, who make up only 5 percent of the Pakistan population, were recently attacked by Muslim extremists following an allegation that a Christian family had desecrated the Quran. Although there was no evidence of the Islamic holy book being destroyed by Christians, hundreds of Christian homes were burned in several villages in Punjab Province in July and August. Dozens of Christians were killed in the attack.

On Aug. 1, a mob of more than 2,000 Muslims burned the homes of Christians using a hard-to-extinguish chemical. Several of those killed in the attacks were burned alive.

 

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