Call it by its name: ‘Persecution!’ – By Desmond Fernandes
The British Pakistani Christian Association has published a 490 page book authored by Desmond Fernandes – Call it by its name: ‘Persecution!’ – that comprehensively analyses and documents the manner in which Christians have been – and continue to be – persecuted throughout Pakistan.
For Saleh Memon, a member of the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities: “This book paints a truly horrific picture of the treatment of Christians in Pakistan, based on concrete evidence. It also shows how Pakistani politics have gone toxic when politicians and religious leaders are using extreme communalism to gain political leverage. It is clear that Christians are discriminated in all spheres of life – religious practice, habitation, employment, education, health and general social well-being. On top of this, blasphemy laws are invoked and used deliberately to victimise Christians, taking security of life from them as individuals. They are frequently subjected to mob justice. The rule of law with fair trial in front of a jury is often abandoned. The police and security forces often become judge, jury and executioners”.
David (Lord) Alton, former Vice-Chair of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on International Freedom of Religion or Belief and Co-Founder of the Jubilee Campaign, describes the book as an “excellent book, which covers all the important ground relating to Christians in Pakistan and the persecution that they face”. He argues that it “needs to be seriously considered by the Home Office policy analysts” and “consulted by UNHCR staff in Bangkok … It also urgently needs to be read” by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) policy makers because “it provides up to date information that, hopefully, will result in revised guidance… This book … should be essential reading for all policy makers/analysts, lawyers, refugee rights campaigners, members of the public, academics and parliamentarians who are concerned about persecuted individuals and groups (inclusive of Christians) in Pakistan”.
Findings from Fernandes’ book also point towards a specific UK government immigration policy that explicitly discriminates against nationals from Pakistan by placing them on a secret ‘list’. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO’s) assessments in Pakistani Christian ‘persecution-related’ matters and UK-EU ‘deep political’ policies are also subjected to detailed scrutiny. The UK government’s recent decision to refuse to offer Asia Bibi and her family asylum is also critically assessed.
Notes on the author: Desmond Fernandes is a genocide scholar and author of Education, Human Rights Violations in Pakistan and the Scandal involving UNHCR and Christian asylum seekers in Thailand (BPCA: London, 2016, 3rd edition) as well as joint-author of The Targeting of Minority ‘Others’ in Pakistan (BPCA: London, 2013) and The Education System in Pakistan: Discrimination and the Targeting of the ‘Other’ (BPCA: London, 2014). Formerly a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at De Montfort University (UK), his works on persecution, genocide and the criminalisation of communities have been translated into a number of languages, including French, Dutch, German, Greek, Turkish and Kurdish.