Pakistan: 41 Christians Freed After 5 Years

March 03, 2020

On January 29, 2020, the special antiterrorist court of Lahore, the second-largest city in Pakistan after the capital Karachi, has ordered the release of 41 detained Christians accused of having killed two Muslims suspected of terrorism, following the suicide attacks on two churches in Youhanabad in March 2015.

On March 15, 2015, two Taliban terrorists blew themselves up at the entrances to St. John’s Catholic Church and the Anglican Christ Church in Youhanabad, causing 27 deaths and over 70 wounded, according to the Italian news agency of the Foreign Missions AsiaNews. Christians had subsequently protested in the city streets, and two suspects were beaten to death. Over 100 Christians were arrested, and charges were laid against 47 of them.

While the police never arrested the planners of these attacks, these Christians were sent to jail, accused of rioting, damaging public property and committing arson, according to AsiaNews. Since then, two have died in prison and four escaped.

On January 29, 2020, the court decided to free the detainees, after their families came to an agreement on financial damages to be paid to the families of the two Muslims that were killed.

“For ordinary people, it is very difficult to defend themselves in Pakistan,” Nadeem Anthony, a Pakistani lawyer, explained. “They cannot obtain justice because the system is flawed. The accused spent five years behind bars, and no one has thought of the Christians who died in the attacks. I praise the court’s decision to dismiss the charges, and the decision of Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta. But their families are still receiving threats. The State must guarantee their protection; their safety is at stake.”