CSW - everyone free to believe


Christian labourer killed for allegedly polluting water

3 Mar 2020

Saleem Masih, a 22 year-old Christian labourer from the city of Kasur, south of Lahore, Pakistan, has died of injuries sustained when he was beaten by four men who accused him of “contaminating” a well of water by bathing in it. 

Masih took a bath on 25 February after a day’s work unloading husk from the field in which he worked and was accused by the landowners of contaminating the well on their property. The attack against him took place in the same city where brick kiln labourers and married couple Shehzad and Shama Masih were lynched and burned to death in November 2014 for allegedly committing blasphemy by burning the pages of the Quran. 

Local sources have told CSW that Saleem Masih was restrained with chains, dragged and beaten with rods by the landowner, who has been identified as Sher Dogar, and four other men. He died from severe injuries to his organs on 28 February at a general hospital. 

Christian communities from lower income groups who work in rural areas holding jobs in sanitation, brick kilns or as daily wage farm labourers, for example, live with the stigma of being “chuhra” (dirty) and are subject to daily discrimination, due in part to the legacy of the caste system.

Local monitoring groups continue to raise concerns about the social ostracism that these communities endure and the deeply ingrained prejudices that land and business owners have against them. CSW has found that religious minorities also experience discrimination in schools, where children as young as 12 being instructed to “eat, sit and play separately from other students.”

Michelle Chaudhry, President of Cecil and Iris Chaudhry Foundation (CICF), said: This horrific act of violence is once again a grim reminder that intolerance in the name of religion in Pakistan has escalated beyond the rule of law. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, when it comes to the religious minorities anyone is free to act as a prosecutor, judge and executor. We cannot allow this to go on; impunity around violence against religious minorities in Pakistan has to end.”

“We demand of the governments both federal and provincial to ensure the safety and protection of all non-Muslim Pakistanis as enshrined in the constitution of the country. Incidents such as these send a wave of insecurity which leaves communities feeling extremely vulnerable. It is the State’s responsibility to protect its citizens regardless of faith, caste or gender. Furthermore, accountability is pivotal in order to prevent such violence in the future. We demand that an impartial inquiry is carried out and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Saleem Masih. It is unacceptable that Christians in Pakistan still face discrimination and hatred on account of their religious identity. The government of Pakistan must take decisive action against the perpetrators of hate and those who carry out such crimes. We also urge the authorities to fully commit to the long-term work of overcoming the prejudiced mindset towards religious minorities in society.”



Sign up for updates on the work of CSW

* mandatory fields

By signing up you will receive news about CSW's work and how you can support it. You can unsubscribe at any time.

#2 CSW manifesto

We believe no one should suffer discrimination, harassment or persecution because of their beliefs