A Christian School girl of Pakistani origins gave up her Easter holidays to champion the rights of thousands of Pakistani Christian girls who are at risk of rape, kidnap and forced Islamic marriage every year in Pakistan.
Hannah Chowdhry, who volunteers for the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) organised a meeting with UKIP MEP Nathan Gill to discuss concerns about persecution of minorities in Pakistan, after the Welsh MEP and Welsh Assembly Member responded to a regular email correspondence sent out by BPCA.
Mr Nathan Gill was moved by the plight of Pakistani Christians and created a small video which he shared on social media drawing some necessary attention to the plight of millions of Christians who have suffered oppression and discrimination since the creation of Pakistan, despite the original founder of the nation holding much more egalitarian views. The video can be watched (here).
During a meeting with Nathan Gill on 10th April 2018, Hannah explained that she had begun to volunteer with the BPCA after learning about girls around her age that had suffered brutality at the hands of men much older then them, often after the girls had been entrapped by friends at school who had been actively involved in planning the kidnaps and knew that it would lead to brutal sham marriages enacted by corrupt local imams.
Hannah Chowdhry, said:
“A Muslim NGO named Movementt of Solidarity and Peace reported in 2014 that 700 Christian girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage every year, thats almost 2 a day.
“The average age of victims is 13 but many can be younger than this. I am now 14 and when I think about what these vulnerable girls have been through it makes me shudder.
“I have written to the High Commissioner of Pakistan several times asking for him to help these girls, but have never received any response.
“When I saw the video that MEP Nathan Gill produced in response to one of our regular newsletters, I realised he was interested in helping these girls and many other victims of oppression in Pakistan so I requested a chance to discuss concerns about Pakistan and was pleasently surprised when he agreed to meet.
“My father Wilson Chowdhry, came with me and we shared details of many persecution stories relating to Pakistan, Nathan was receptive and I also met with his colleague Jim Carver MEP.
“While we were at Brussels we also attended various seminars and even held a protest outside the EU parliament itself, which my father helped organise with the global Pakistani Christian community, on the back of our visit.
MEP Nathan Gill has agreed to help BPCA raise a series of questions to European Parliament ensuring that the EU is knowledgeable on the real human rights crises that is manifest in Pakistan. Hundreds of Christians and Ahmadis are incarcerated in Pakistani jails under false blasphemy charges through a draconian law that targets non-Muslims and is used to settle personal scores and usurp properties and employment roles. 1.5 million Christian slaves work in the brick kilns and carpet weaving factories of Pakistan where they eke out an existence working 14 hours a day for six days for a pittance, forced to pay of the debts of a patriarch who borrowed a small loan of say £50, leading to overwhelming debt and unquenchable interest. Current figures suggest that only 4% of Christians attain an adequate level of literacy, due to; fear of bullying in school, debt-driven child-labour, and desire to protect vulnerable girls from kidnap.
Hannah with MEP Jean Lambert South Asian Delegate for the EU
Hannah with Maired McGuiness First Vice President for the EU.
During the visit Hannah met with South Asian Delegate for the EU MEP Jean Lambert (Green Party) and the First Vice President for the EU Mairead McGuiness (Fine Gael) during a seminar on persecution of non-believers on 11th April. She was also provided with a tour of the EU building itself and was able to peer inside the main debate hall for the EU Parliament building and saw a view of the whole inside of the building from the top floor.
Hannah and her father Wilson Chowdhry also attended a regular prayer meeting that is attended by officials of the EU, lobbyists and MEP’s. During the meeting leaders of the prayer group prayed over the life of Hannah which was encouraging for Hannah.
Hannah attended an EU prayer meeting
After one of the seminars attended by Hannah she met Ruth Isaac a Christian lobbyist who is employed by the European Coalition for Israel a group that tackles global anti-semitism. Hannah herself is a student at Kantor King Solomon High School, and shared her experiences at the school to encourage Ruth. Hannah said:
“As a student attending a Jewish Comprehensive school I am glad that children in my school are able to get along better then some of the adults of this world.
“During discussions on Israel and Palestine I often come across the conflicting views held by young people influenced by their culture and social interactions. However in most cases I have seen that people of Abrahamic faiths who have different views on the geo-political status of the region can engage in debate without resorting to hatred and violence.
“Schools like mine bridge the gap and help to destroy the myths that divide us.”
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
“Visiting the EU Parliament was a special moment for Hannah and I and allowed us to meet with MEP’s from a range of political parties and views in our attempt to bring some ease to the suffering of millions of Christians in Pakistan.
“Though neither BPCA nor Hannah and I endorse any of the particular parties or European Parliamentary groups we have met we are pleased to know that there are MEP’s that are concerned about human rights for minorities in Pakistan. Galvanizing support through so many different parties and individuals helps fuel better debate on how the EU navigates global relations with Pakistan and we hope they will use their influence to bring about necessary changes to improve the lives of millions of victims.”
Hannah at the Entrance to the EU Parliament
Hannah peers into the Brussels Hemicycle – one of the main debate Chambers for decisions made by MEP’s for the EU (click here)
Jan Figel Special Envoy for human Rights outside the EU organised a seminar on Discrimination and Persecution of Non-believers around the world.
Nigel Farage still chairs the Europe of Nations and Freedom Group in the EU at a General meeting he spoke of the work of the BPCA. Mr Farage has a lot of unexpected support from Pakistani Christians as noted by the Independent newspaper (click here)
Hannah took part in a protest involving Pakistani Christians across Europe on Friday 13th April.
Hannah with MEP Jim Carver