They were burnt alive in a brick kiln
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
LAHORE, PAKISTAN (ANS) -- The family of a Pakistani Christian couple, are still reeling from the horrific crime that tragically took their loved ones away, says Pakistani journalist Shamim Masih.
Martyrs for their faith --
Shahzad Masih, 26, and Shama Bibi, 24, were burnt alive for alleged blasphemy on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, in a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan of Kasur district, 31 miles from Lahore.
Relatives who witnessed the horrific attack claimed that Shama was wrapped in cotton so she would set alight faster, also had their legs broken so they could not flee the mob that locked them inside a brick-making factory before their murder.
The couple were surrounded by a crowd of at least 1,000 and thrown on top of a brick kiln where they were burned alive, witnesses said.
Shamim Masih, writing for the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) -- www.britishpakistanichristians.org, says that the eldest son of the couple, who witnessed the horrendous murder of his parents, has described what occurred.
He told the journalist, "Very early in the morning, the [brick kiln] supervisor, along with a few other men, came to house and took my parents with them. We were so scared. They started beating them with sticks and slapping them hard, so we started weeping and ran after our parents.
"Soon after my uncle, Iqbal Masih [Shahzad's brother], came out of his house to inquire about the incident, but they didn't listen to him and locked up our parents in a nearby room, while all us children kept on weeping and we remained with our uncle in his house.
Journalist Shamim Masih with two members
"Many people were gathering and they were equipped with big iron rods and sticks in their hands. They tore my parents' clothes off and started bashing them. They hit them on the head, legs, back, anywhere that they could reach, beating them so severely, they couldn't stand up. There was blood everywhere. The mob threw their bodies into the fire of the brick kiln, shouting that no-one could stop them, and they were shouting at and hitting other Christians too."
Shamim Masih then said that all four of Shahzad's brothers locked themselves in their houses for the fear of receiving the same fate as their brother and sister-in-law, as the mob were extremely angry, shouting that they would burn all of his relatives living in the local area.
"They threatened to burn the other Christians' houses in Village Chack No.59," he wrote, "Local Christians were terrified, knowing that, had an attack been instigated, local police officials would not have reached the village in time."
Iqbal Masih then said, "I was not aware of the incident, until I heard the mob shouting in the streets. I left my house to inquire about it. The supervisor told me that Shama had burnt [some] holy pages of the Quran and that they were going to hand my brother Shahzad and his wife over to the police.
"It suddenly dawned on me that my brother and sister were being accused of blasphemy and the penalty for that is death. I felt shocked and horrified to learn of their fate and asked the supervisor to set them free. I begged for the life of Shahzad and Shama but nobody was listening."
He added, "The angry mob of at least 1000 Muslims were shouting and chanting that they would lay down their lives to protect Islam, but in the end they took my brother and his wife."
Fearing for his family and his own safety, he ran to his home and locked his family in his house, said Shamim Masih.
"Relatives of the murdered couple are yet to receive any compensation, even though the government had announced that the children would receive a substantial amount," he went on to say. "The government will only award compensation for the children of Shahzad and Shama. It is yet to be decided who will be the children's legal guardian.
"Two of the murdered couple's younger daughters are currently residing with the wife's sister, Saima, who converted to Islam a few months before the tragic incident. Saima came to the village with her father claiming to be the children's guardian whilst Shahzad's brothers, Iqbal and Shahbaz, have also laid claims to legal guardianship of the children.
"The case is currently with the local court and the compensation that the children rightly deserve is still with the DCO. The rest of the couple's family are living with relatives in Clarkabad who are supporting them financially."
Shamim Masih has also supported the family on behalf of the British Pakistani Christian Association, helping them take Shahzad and Shama's belongings back to their villages and providing for their immediate needs.
Image of the brick kiln where Shahzad
The family have agreed that the BPCA will pay for the ongoing educational needs of the children when of school age and when the oldest son has settled into a safer environment.
The family are still continuing on with their daily struggles and are looking for employment but have not yet decided what to do, as their loss is overwhelming. Shamim Masih suggested that they move to Lahore or another city as the fear of violence is "ever present" in the village area of Clarkabad.
The trial date for the alleged killer, which started on the November 6th, is when the police presented their findings to the court, yet only 70 people were arrested out of the 1000-plus mob.
Shamim Masih stated in his opinion, "the trial will no doubt lose momentum and ultimately fail. I expect after a short period of remand the accused will be set free. If we are fortunate, one or two culprits could face sentencing."
He stated, "Local Christians still living in the village of Chack No.59 are very frightened, convinced that local Muslims will attack again. Many have already been threatened and beaten since the attack. The local Muslim community stands by the extra-judicial killing, believing a blasphemy occurred, through desecration of their holy book the Quran. The Christian community in Clarkabad wants those who committed the murders to be held accountable and punished.
"The Christian community are still targets and can be attacked at any time, especially those Christians who are still living in the same village Chack No.59.
"Shahzad's brothers and sister have been moved to Clarkabad as it has become untenable for them to remain in Chack No.59. They are the only Christian family to have escaped the torture of the bonded labour and the pariah status Christians endure in this most inhospitable of areas."
The BPCA has initiated a permanent benevolent fund for the family of Shahzad and Shama. The BPCA says that it desires to "free them from their bonded labour status and will work towards providing a new safer environment for this family, that has suffered the loss of loved ones in a brutal and savage manner."
A spokesperson for the BPCA stated, "This family have been left with serious emotional and psychological scarring and are receiving counseling. The orphaned children are being cared for by the family of Shahzad and your donations will provide ongoing care.
If you would like to send an immediate donation please use the pay-pal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog, or simply send a check made payable to the BPCA to their address; 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG, UK.
"With your support we hope to change the lives of millions of Christians in Pakistan," added the spokesperson.
People of good conscience are urged to sign their on-line petition, which will be submitted to the Pakistani Government, and also to 10 Downing Street on New Year's Day 2015. For more information, please go to www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/justice4shahzadsham