Pakistan Local Gov't Destroyed 13 Christian Families' Homes After They Refused to Work for Free as Bonded Laborers

Members of the Pakistani Christian community attend a protest rally to condemn Sunday's suicide attack in Peshawar on a church, in Islamabad, September 23, 2013. A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the 130-year-old Anglican church in Pakistan after Sunday mass, killing at least 78 people in the deadliest attack on Christians in the predominantly Muslim country. | (Photo: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood)

Thirteen Christian families in a small village located in the Punjab province of Pakistan are now homeless after the local municipal government demolished their homes because the families refused to work for no pay and become bonded laborers.

Members of the Christian families, who all worked at a local brick kiln in the village of Samundri, refused to continue working unless they received fair compensation for their labor. Pakistan Christian Post reports that the village's municipal government carried out the destruction of their homes last week after being pressured to do so by the "influential" Muslims who owned the brick kiln operation.

"Houses of 13 Christian families have been demolished by the Town Municipal Administration Samundri under the pressure of the influential people of the village just because they refused to bonded labour without any penny," the news report stated.

The owners of the brick kiln behind the demolition of the homes successfully lobbied the town administration and claimed that the homes needed to be demolished in order to make room for a new village hospital, since the village's old hospital that was built about 20 years ago has been "non-functional since its beginning."

With about 72 Christian families living in the majority Muslim village, all the Christian families in the town are forced to live in a segregated corner of the town because "they may not be mixed with the people of the majority religion."

Professor Anjum James Paul, chairman of the Pakistan Minorities Teachers Association, chastised the municipality for destroying the Christian homes. He said these families are now living without shelter and now have to cope with the cold winter nights.

"Shame on such elements who destroy the peace of mind and properties of the marginalized Christian community," Paul told the Pakistan Christian Post.

Paul further criticized the government for not providing shelter for the displaced families adding that it is the responsibility of the state to give shelter to all citizens as underlined in the Pakistani constitution.

"Let us see when they are granted equal rights and shelter in their homeland," Paul added.

Mistreatment of Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan is not just isolated to the village of Samundri. In November, all the Christians in the Punjabi village of Sahiwal were forced to flee their homes after receiving threats from the town's Muslims after one of the town's Christian men married a Muslim woman.

With about 97 percent of Pakistan's population being Muslim, the accusations made by Muslim people against religious minorities go a long way in the court of public opinion and in the Pakistani court of law. Hundreds of religious minorities are killed, imprisoned or executed just because they have been accused, not proven guilty, of blasphemy.

In early November, a Pakistani Christian couple was beaten, tortured and incinerated by a mob of over 1,500 people in the village of Kot Rodha Kishan all because they were accused of burning the pages from the Koran.

The Pakistan Christian Congress recently issued a note to all clergy in Pakistan asking them not to invite any government officials to their congregation's services for Christmas or New Years in protest of the unconstitutional mistreatment of Christians in Pakistan.

"Rising violence on pretext to blasphemy, kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam of Christian and Hindu women, and total denial of equal basic rights to religious minorities in true face of Pakistan and justice is never ensured," said President of the Pakistan Christian Congress, Dr. Nazir Bhatti, according to Pakistan Christian Post.

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