Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) organized a protest on 22nd September 2018 before the United Nations in Geneva to focus international attention on the persecution of religious minorities in Pakistan.
A group of over 100 protestors participated in a march through the center of Geneva city. The protestors assembled at 10:00 in the morning at the city center, wearing black shirts which boldly proclaimed “Protect Pakistani Christians”. The march began in the city center, moved past the train station and through the central business district of Geneva. The protestors then briefly halted by Lake Geneva.
The protestors helped raise awareness about the plight of Christians in Pakistan. Curious onlookers and citizens were informed about the serious violations against religious minorities in Pakistan. Specific references were made to the unjust Blasphemy laws and the Asia Bibi case. Individuals were educated about the gross violations of freedom of religion and belief, and the need for the international community to take action.
The gathering was joined by the dignitaries, Dr. Mario Silva, executive chairman of IFRAS, Mr. Henry Malosse, former president of the European Economic and Social Committee, Mr. Tomas Zdechovsky, Member of European parliament, Mr. Benjamin Blanchar, Director of SOS Chretiens d’Orient and Mr. Gyorgy Holvenyi, Member of European Parliament.
The protestors then made their way towards the Palace of Nations. The crowd assembled before the broken chair monument, which stands as a reminder of the dangers posed by landmines and cluster bombs. It also symbolizes the impact of NGOs in lobbying for change at the international level.
The participants gathered together at a tent set up in front of the Place of Nations for a formal meeting. Dr. Mario Silva coordinated the program and spoke out against the misuse of the Blasphemy law in Pakistan to target members of religious minorities. He also spoke about the need to address the issues immediately since the situation is worsening every day. Mr. Benjamin Blanchar stated he had visited Pakistan and was appalled at condition of religious minorities who were forced to work as slave labour. Moreover, minorities they faced discrimination in areas of employment and education.
Mr. Henry Malosse criticized the hypocrisy of the Pakistani government which, on one hand seeks economic and free trade benefits from the European union, but on the other hand, does respect human dignity, human rights or rule of law, the fundamental values of the European union. Mr. Tomas Zdechovsky and Mr. Gyorgy Holvenyi emphasized that the European union needs to apply pressure on the Pakistani government in order to ensure that rights of minorities are protected.
The event also had various members of the minority community speaking out against the serious human rights violations they faced. The coordinator briefly spoke about other methods which could be used in order to raise international awareness about the situation in Pakistan. The event culminated with a note of thanks for the organizers.