Monday, December 17, 2012

A Pastor Threatened in Lahore for evangelizing

Women's group condemns the killing of a 71-year-old Swedish missionary

By Alex John
Special to ASSIST News Service

LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- Pastor Kamran Gill, 39, a resident of Lahore, has been threatened for evangelizing in the Punjab province.

Gill has been working with various human rights organizations and denominations for the development of the Youth and the marginalized communities.

He has been emphasizing on the importance of education in the central Punjab. The locals are not in the favor of educating the youth, so that they can keep them enslaved.

His wife passed away in Sept, 2011 leaving behind a 9 years old daughter. The recent threats forced Gill to keep his daughter at home as the extremists may target his daughter.

A formal complaint has been lodged and the police are investigating the matter.

Father John Samuel from the Lahore Diocese said, "It is ironic that a person stands to educate the masses, instead they start threatening him. They are afraid to educate the youth and they fear that if they will become educated, they will start asking questions and they will start thinking on their own.
"Unfortunately a few people in Pakistan want to keep the people covered with illiteracy, so that they can use them for their gain. On the International Human Rights day, we condemn such a violation of the basic human rights and we condemn the threats given to the evangelist for his work."

A group called Illuminate, a women's rights organization headed by Huma Kristina Yousaf, has issued a news release regarding International Human Rights Day in which it says, "Human rights belong to every one of us without exception. However; unless we know them, unless we demand that they be respected, and unless we defend our right and the right of others to exercise them, they will be just words in a decades old document.

"The importance of human rights has been underlined repeatedly over the years. Across the globe, people mobilize to demand; justice, dignity, equality, and participate in cherishing the rights contained in the Universal Declaration.

"Illuminate concentrates on the integral development of the disadvantaged sections of society, in response to unsatisfactory labors made for socio-economic development of the marginalized and weaker section of the society. It is committed to attaining the goal of inspiring and formulating; a just, vibrant, progressive and democratic society where women are fully empowered, and not victimized by the traditional societal disease of gender inequality. It also aims to create awareness of noble concepts, such as; human security and equal opportunities for all."

Illuminate released went on to say that it condemns the assassination of Birgitta Almeby, the 71-year-old Swedish Christian missionary who was shot in Lahore, Pakistan, on December 3, died in a Stockholm hospital on Wednesday night.

"She had served for over 40 years in Pakistan and has been on the go; living a life dedicated to helping masses of people who live in abject poverty, regardless of their; religions, cast or any such forms of racial or religious segregation."

Illuminate also expressed its "outrage and resentment" over the state of affairs, "where women and young girls are being murdered, kidnapped and subjected to various forms of violence, including; killings in the name of 'honor', suicides, acid throwing and stove-burning with shameless impunity, while the State functionaries are doing nothing except lip service for TV cameras, and that too only in a select few cases that are fortunate enough to be voiced over the media for general awareness. We at Illuminate, also acknowledge the brave stand that Malala Yousafzai took, concerning the right for education for the girls in remote areas of Pakistan.

"Although the country has advanced in many ways but only a select few women, belonging to the posh or upper middle educated class truly understand and stand up for their rights. On the side of the spectrum, unfortunately; the old adage that says 'hammers for boys and needles for girls' is still prevalent."

The released added, "Our purpose is to inspire women and create awareness among them, regarding the rights they are entitled to, because in order to be able to stand up for ones rights it is integral to be able to identify them. Unfortunately, there are masses of women in Pakistan that are still living in ignorance. We want to highlight the fact that girls are capable of defending their rights and we plan to use Illuminate as a platform that defends and raises the voice of the girls in Pakistan who face injustice and violence and abuse at the hands of the male perpetrators, family members and state agents.

"The aim of Illuminate is to be a part of the strive to make a difference in beliefs and thoughts Pakistan, which have been troubled since generations, with a lousy concept of taking the term 'women' synonymous with terms like; weak, absurdly sensitive and risky when it comes to leadership. Our mission is to make a point that women from all the social classes in Pakistan, are equally desirable, based on their mental capabilities and competences, to be the leaders as they have proven around the world to be the best whenever the reigns have been given in their wholesome hands. Women just need the right education, enlightenment, exposure, opportunities and empowerment like the other gender to make their mark and prove themselves."

Alex John is a journalist based in Pakistan.

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