Police in Pakistan supposedly tortured a young Christian man to death after his mother was accused by her Muslim employer of stealing gold and money.
According to Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, or BPCA, Aysha Bibi was arrested by police on March 4 in a city outside of the Pakistani city of Lahore on suspicion of stealing gold ornaments and 35,000 Pakistani rupees (about $344) during a wedding around Feb. 24; she claimed that she stopped working for Abdul Jabbar as a domestic servant on Feb. 20.
"[Police] beat Bibi with sticks and their fists shouting abuse and accusations in an attempt to force a confession," Chowdhry wrote. "The violence of the beatings shattered the bones in her arms."
Chowdhry added that Bibi refused to accept a false confession that would have incriminated her. Police then turned their fury at her son, Zubair Rashid Masih. Although Bibi was eventually released from custody, the police beat, detained, and tried to force a confession out of Masih.
"My son was screaming for them to stop," Bibi said. "It was obvious he was in pain; there was blood everywhere. I asked the Police to beat me, not my son. He had never even been to my employer's home."
According to a report from AsiaNews, the Center for Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement, or CLAAS, reported that her son was "violently tortured throughout the night" by police. After he died in their custody, police took his lifeless body and "dumped [it] in front of his parents' house."
"The family feared for the fate of the young man, because often the police use violence during interrogations, especially against Christians," AsiaNews wrote. "Doctors confirmed that the death occurred as a result of torture."
AsiaNews reported that the family protested outside the police station for two days after Masih died. Investigators opened an inquiry against "an officer and three agents" on March 8 after "activists and civil society" pressured them to do so.
"Despite promises of justice, most likely the story will end with a paltry monetary compensation to the family while the policemen will remain unpunished," AsiaNews wrote.
Chowdhry reported that Christians faced intense persecution in Pakistan, most notably in the form of rape, forced Islamic marriage, or malicious acts of violence.
"The value of a Christian in Pakistan is deemed no more than a postage stamp," Chowdhry said. "Unless significant social reform takes place, this ongoing hatred will lead to even more sorrow in a country bereft of love."
BCPA researcher Alison Houghton added that no one should endure the inhumane police treatment encountered by Bibi.
"When police in Pakistan can treat a Christian in this shocking and inhumane manner, in broad daylight with no attempt to conceal their actions, it shows how worthless Christian lives are and how violence is endemic within the authorities," Houghton said. "It also sends a clear message to Pakistani society that violence, hatred and religious intolerance towards Christians [are] condoned."