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Oct-23-2012 21:16printcomments

Man Behind Rimsha's Release Targeted by Threats and Smear Campaign

A man who has worked tirelessly to protect others comes under threat for helping a little girl named Rimsha.

Basharat Khokher in the white shirt
Basharat Khokher in the white shirt

(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan) - A few days back I went to Karachi on a trip funded by the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) to cover a couple of sad incidents that happened there.

A young boy was entwined in a blasphemy case and some extremists attacked a church.

During my trip in Karachi I received a call from Basharat Khokhar; he wanted to see me to discuss some important issues regarding his own life. I told him about my visit and promised him to see him in Islamabad.

When I reached in Islamabad, I remained busy in filing up the reports to BPCA to whom I work for on assigned duty. I am grateful to Wilson Chaudhary from BPCA, for choosing me in Pakistan.

I visited Basharat Khokher in PIMS hospital, where his wife has been for months, where he has to take care of her. On arriving I found him sad, sitting outside the hospital.

I have seen Basharat Khokher (a police constable) protecting Rimsha’s lawyer Mr. Tahir Naveed Chaudhary during court proceeding in Islamabad.

He went to receive Rimsha from the jail and took her to the safest place.

He had also been working as a security guard for Dr. Paul Bhatti (Minister in-charge for National Harmony) and earlier for his brother (Late) Shahbaz Bhatti (Ex. Federal Minister).

Shahbaz Bhatti received threats from militants and he remained a target too. Basharat went underground after the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti.

But when Rimsha’s incident happened, he came to the forefront and guarded his bosses. He is the person who went to Meharabadi people to take Rimsha’s family out of the town, risking his life risk. He took them into his custody and remained with them.

Unfortunately, Dr. Paul Bhatti pulled him out from the bunch without realizing the work he has done for Rimsha’s release. When court announced Rimsha's release order, he went there, taking her from the jail and placed Rimsha in a safe place along with her family.

Extremists watched him handling all the matters gallantly, and now they are threatening him.

He told me that he received life threats and thus he requested his high officials to provide him life security. He showed me his application to high officials.

This is how the life of a person becomes miserable, one who works for the people who face blasphemy cases.

I also found that he himself had faced a false blasphemy case but was set free by a court in 2009.

Below is the court decision:

    Earlier in 2009, under FIR No. 767, dated 28.11.2008 under sections 295-c/109 PPC, 25-D Telegraph act, Pakistani Additional Session Judge, Muhammad Sarfraz Akhter in Rawalpindi has acquitted the accused Hector Aleem, Basharat Khokhar and Robin Masih in the same kind of case.

The court stated in its order, "in nutshell on the basis of illegalities committed by investigating agency of the police and prosecution agency the prosecution has failed to prove the charge against all the said accused persons. They are therefore, hereby acquitted of the charge."

As referenced, his wife has been in the hospital for the last couple of months and he has to take care of her and their kids at home as well. All Christians are requested to pray for safety of his life.

I urge the authorities in Pakistan to:

1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats received by human rights defender Basharat Khokher, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Take measures to ensure that government officials or other public figures refrain from making statements or declarations stigmatizing the legitimate work of human rights defenders;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Pakistan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

Edited for Salem-News.com by Tim King

About Shamim Masih

"I am Christian rights activist and freelancer Pakistani journalist specializing in writing about Christians rights for the different papers in the world. My aim is to create a peaceful environment in the society and to help eliminate Christian persecution through my writing as I bring the plight of these brave people under the spotlight of the whole world."

Shamim Masih was born in Sheikhopura's village and raised in Gujranwala, a city in Pakistan's Punjab province. He earned his Bachelors Degree from the University of the Punjab, Lahore majoring in English, Economics and Statistics; he also received a Masters Degree in Business Administration.

As a freelance writer and author, Shamim has written for different papers in the world; his expertise is in writing articles highlighting different social issues. He has served as freelance chief reporter and column writer in “Minority Times” in Islamabad, and a number of Shamim's articles have been published in local papers as well.

You can write to Shamim at this address: shamimpakistan@gmail.com

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Located in London




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