(HERNDON, Virginia, April 2011) Religious freedom organizations united under the Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) released a statement condemning the recent death of Pakistani Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, and calling for immediate action from Pakistan's government and the international community to safeguard the lives and the rights of Pakistan’s Christian minority. The World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (WEA RLC) which is a member of the RLP fully endorses this statement referred to as “The Virginia Statement on the Islamic Republic of Pakistan”.
WEA RLC notes with deep sadness that the late Minister Bhatti was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Religious Liberty Partnership Conference in Virginia.“Shahbaz Bhatti paid the supreme price with his life for standing up and speaking up for the poor, marginalized and the persecuted.” states Godfrey Yogarajah, Executive Director of the Religious Liberty Commission for the World Evangelical Alliance, and member of the RLP Leadership Team. “If this spiraling trend of violence is not dealt with immediately it will result in a breakdown of law and order and the very fabric of Pakistani society could crumble in to anarchy” he adds.
WEA RLC strongly endorses the call of the RLP for the international community and the United Nations to recognize the plight of minority Pakistani Christians, and other persecuted minority religious groups and take urgent action to protect their lives and their basic human rights; including Pakistani Christians who have fled their country to escape persecution.
While acknowledging the courageous statements of the Pakistani coalition government and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s, condemning the senseless, violent murders of Minister Bhatti and Governor Taseer, WEA RLC also calls upon the Pakistan government to ensure the safety of all citizens, including minorities and “to establish a judicial inquiry into the murders of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salman Taseer,” and implement measures to prevent misuse of the Blasphemy Laws, and work toward the abolition of the controversial law.
“We hope and pray the Pakistani authorities, the international community, and the worldwide Church will take the necessary action to ensure Shahbaz Bhatti’s death will not have been in vain.” states Mervyn Thomas, Chairman of the RLP.
WEA RLC joins the call for the worldwide church to pray for and work toward the safety and protection of religious rights of all Pakistanis.
Executive Director - Religious Liberty Commission
World Evangelical Alliance