Christian poisoned to death for seeking freedom from slavery contract

A Christian man who was sold into slavery was left to die from poisoning before his family home.   Police refuse to investigate the death and have
reported it as a suicide but family members report a history of mistreatment and have called for a murder inquiry.

In June 2015 Javed Masih (28 yrs) of Kamal Pur Panjchak in Faisalabad, needed a loan of 315,000 rupees (£2333) in order for him to buy a home for his
family.   To fund the purchase he agreed to a slavery contract with a man named Tajamal Jatt for two years that required him to plough fields, graze
cattle, undertake all household chores and minor building repairs. The signed contract agreed to pay the loan which would be settled in full after
two years servitude by Javed, who would also be paid a small payment of 7000 rupees (£51) per month.

Javed worked a minimum of 14 hours per day but was contracted to work 24 hours 7 days a week.  This meant he was often called upon to undertake
late night emergencies such as unblocking drains and receiving deliveries.  Javed had been a regular member of the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan
but was not allowed to attend church during his two years as a serf.

Javed suffered beatings and bullying from Tajamal and his siblings Muzamal and Bilal, however he only revealed this to his mother who was a solid foundation
for her often beleaguered son. She would pray with Javed and provide counsel constantly reminding him of the need to put his faith in God.  His
mother recounted an incident that had demoralised Javed when a few months back as he was nearing the end of his contracted slavery, Javed spoke with
Bilal the youngest of the Jutt brothers and told him of how he was looking forward to getting married after his contract was over.. In an alleged
chilling response that struck fear into Javed, Bilal responded by saying: “You will bite the dust working here like a spoiled egg. There is no way you will ever be free from us and leave this place.”  

Nevertheless, despite fears that he would not be permitted to quit his enslavement, Javed approached the Jutt brothers after his term of slavery was
up and asked for permission to leave.  His request seemed to stir up great animosity towards him with the brothers. Bilal was heard by other workers

“You filthy Chura (derogatory word meaning worthless thing), how dare you ask for your freedom.  Your life is ours. You will clean our excrement every day of your life from now on or you and your family will die.”

For this he was grabbed by the brothers, tied up, beaten and spat upon for a whole day.  He had never told his family about this because he was
both embarrassed and fearful of the repercussions on his family if they got involved.  Other employees were made to see the brutal torture of
Javed to instill a sense of fear amongst them.

With a heavy heart and totally demoralized Javed went back to work for the Jutt brothers. In his depressed and anxious state his productivity decreased
and the family plotted to get rid of him. 

On 17th July 2017, Javed was sent by bilal to buy some ‘wheat pills’ (Aluminium phosphide) used as a pesticide but also known to be a poison used for
the purposes of murder and suicide. 

When he returned Javed handed the pills over to Bilal but mysteriously despite being physically fit earlier in the day, Javed suddenly collapsed whilst
working.  His colleagues picked him up and took him to the Jutt brothers who told them to just let him rest for a while.  However, on their
insistence and refusal to work they took Javed to a local clinic.  The senior clinician totally alarmed by the unconscious state of Javed asked
the brothers to immediately take him to a local hospital.  However the devious brothers dumped his body before his family home where only his
widowed mother Shamim Bibi (58 yrs) and youngest brother Irfan (18 yrs) were present.

A dawn newspaper article described the symptoms caused by ingestion of the pills:

“The wheat pill exerts its harmful effects when swallowed, inhaled or when it comes in contact with skin or mucous membranes or body. In the presence
of moisture, highly toxic phosphine gas is liberated, which interferes with protein synthesis and enzyme functioning mitochondria of heart and lungs.
This results in cardiac arrest, circulatory collapse, and pulmonary edema and in fatal cases, hepatic necrosis.(click here)

Shamim asked Bilal to take her son to the hospital put was pushed away and spat at. She and her son nursed him as best they could but by the morning
he had deteriorated.  At 7am the following day Irfan called 1122 emergency services and an ambulance took Javed to Hospital. Javed’s health was
at its lowest ebb and he was declared dead by 9am suffering extreme pain.

Police initially refused to investigate the death and immediately recorded the death as a suicide.  However British Pakistani Christian Association’s
Mehwish Bhatti visited Nishtabad Police Station and upon her insistence police agreed to undertake an investigation if evidence proved foul play. We
have asked for the various wounds on the body of Javed to be taken into consideration for a potential murder inquiry.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:

“Despite ant-slavery laws in Pakistan bonded labour proliferates and is destroying the lives of many Christians.  The Bonded Labour (Abolition) Act 1992 is not worth the paper it is written on and the Governments clear apathy to enforce the law illustrates the low value placed on Christians and other minorities.

“There is a very small suicide rate in Pakistan of around 300 victims over two years -Pakistanis are hardy.  It is inconceivable that Javed committed suicide when he expressed no such desire to anyone he knew and remained stoic for two years despite the pain inflicted on him.”

“We condemn this death and demand an inquiry under murder charges or as a minimum corporate manslaughter.”

The family have been left in a very tenuous position as the contract of slavery and other necessary paperwork for their son, including his ID card have been retained by the Jutt brothers.  They fear the brothers have killed Javed to renege on the contract for satisfaction of his loan. The family met with our officer Ambar Saroya and have requested help with the lost wages of their brother at £51 per month and we have agreed to support them for six months at the cost of £306 as they recover from their loss.  We have also agreed to pay for the funeral costs of £100.  British Pakistani Christian Association is finding it extremely difficult to continue helping a growing number of victims who now approach us their first choice for help.  Please help us to continue you our work by donating (here).  We will of course continue to provide any further help or support this family requires and have already put them in touch with another NGO who are providing legal support.

Amjad Masih the elder brother of Javed Masih with his sister Sonia Masih – In red our officer Ambar Saroya.