We are exclusively publishing the cover letter given with the petition signed by over eight thousand Canadians to the government of Canada regarding the Blasphemy Law and persecution in Pakistan.
Included in this letter are the recommendations for the Canadians government (written by Vincent Samuel on behalf of the International Christian Voice). Read and spread around, the government can't do anything without our support! We hope to use these, as a basis for claiming religious freedom for Christians around the world, starting with our brothers and sisters in Pakistan.
Dear Prime Minister;
International Christian Voice on behalf of Canadians would like to draw your attention towards the systemic and state sponsored inhuman treatment of religious minorities of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Pakistan is a plural society with a number of religious, sectarian and ethno-linguistic groups. It is a nation of over 167 million people, where Muslims represent more than 90 percent of the population. Non-Muslim Pakistanis include Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, Kalasha, Parsees, Sikhs and Christians. These religious minorities are the poorest of the poor in Pakistani society. Denial of economic opportunities and religious freedom, human inequality, and prejudicial laws make life very difficult for them.
Pakistan’s Founding Fathers envisioned a progressive, democratic and tolerant society that retained its Muslim character whilst giving equal rights to its non-Muslim citizens. Instead, on a daily basis, these religious minorities face social, constitutional, economic, educational and religious discrimination.
The Pakistan Penal Code, in particular Section 295-A, Section 295-B, Section 295-C, Section 298-A and Section 298-B, imposes harsh punishment for alleged blasphemy. These blasphemy laws undermine other major provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan such as the fundamental right to “profess, practice and propagate” one’s religion (Article 20), the principle of equality before the law and the equal protection of the law to all citizens (Article 25), as well as the “legitimate rights and interests of minorities” (Article 36). Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws also contradicts the universal declaration of human rights resolution 47/135 of the United Nations.
The Blasphemy Law is being used as a tool to persecute and murder members of religious minorities on a daily basis using false accusations. This is causing needless imprisonment and death. Earlier in 2011, the Late Mr. Salman Taseer, Governor of Punjab Pakistan and Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti, Federal Minister for Minorities Pakistan; were ruthlessly assassinated for the same reason. Also countless religious minority worship places have been burned to the ground along with worshipers who were burned alive. Their women are being raped and properties destroyed. There appears to be no end in sight to these atrocities.
We the Canadians, by presenting this petition request you to do all within the power of the Government of Canada to promote human equality, justice and freedom of religion for the persecuted religious minorities in Pakistan. Specifically the following is requested;
1. Canadian Parliament should pass a resolution condemning “Blasphemy Law” in Pakistan.
2. Canadian Government should do all in its power to repeal this unjust law and similar discriminatory laws from the Pakistan penal code.
3. Canada should reform its immigration policy, regarding “low skilled economic class immigration” to facilitate qualified, but educationally and financially challenged, persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan, to immigrate to Canada
4. Through her generous refugee program, Canada should reform “the protected class immigration” to include persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan, who are refugees in their own home land, and cannot flee to a third country to qualify for convention refugee status. Also, this new protected class immigration should facilitate, safe and speedy extraction, of those members of religious minorities of Pakistan, who are charged with blasphemy law, and are therefore in imminent danger of death.
5. Canada should develop a new long term economic assistance and international development policy specific to persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan. This should include; (1) all future international economic development aid to Pakistan be conditional to fair treatment of her religious minorities; (2) the allocation of international economic development funds, specifically for the economic and educational development of persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan; and (3) Canadian scholarships for international students should be separately allocated for the persecuted religious minorities of Pakistan.
6. Canada should develop such policies and strategies in consultation with concerned Canadian organizations. International Christian Voice would love to be a partner in such policy and strategy development.
International Christian Voice supports the Conservative Government for its efforts to promote human rights all over the world. We appreciate the announcement of the creation of the office of religious freedom by the Right Honorable Prime Minister. As a Champion of Human Rights, we the Canadians expect Canada to do more in promotion of freedom of religion and human rights in Pakistan.