A Press Release by National Commission for Justice and Peace
It is unfortunate to observe that the government of Pakistan seems more concerned with infrastructure of schools and physical security of the buildings rather than the qualitative aspect of the education system. We and our children are living in a society where hatred, discrimination, bullying and ill feeling towards caste, creed, religion and social status is ingrained amongst pupils. One such tragic incident has shocked the nation where a 17 year old Sharoon Masih s/o Alysaab Masih, a student of class 9th died on August 30, 2017.
As per the local activists he was the eldest son and was admitted in Government M.C. High School in Chak 461 E.B of Burewala on August 28, 2017 after passing middle (class 8th) from Government Middle High School. On his first day of school he faced bullying and taunts from class mates which intensified on the day of his death. In the class of 70 students he was the only Christian. The convict on the other hand belonged to a feudal background and as per teachers had anger management issues.
In a joint statement His Excellency Bishop Dr. Joseph Arshad, Chairperson, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) National Director and Mr. Cecil Shane Chaudhry Executive Director from the National Commission for Justice and Peace, a rights based organization of Pakistan Catholic Bishops’ Conference stated that though this may seem as a fight among teenagers, but in fact it was caused by intolerance, discrimination and inhuman attitude towards the minority and marginalised communities. They expressed their deep concern over this level of extreme negligence by the school authorities.
They stressed on the fact that the deceased was a young boy seeking to educate himself. It was the teachers’ responsibility to control and check such incidents of discrimination in class. They urged the Government of Punjab to take strong notice of this incident. The teachers should have been supportive and understanding towards students especially when one is being bullied due to his faith. However unfortunately in Sharoon’s case we saw that there was no human value towards students from such backgrounds.
Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Yousaf (Mani) stated that the students who took Sharoon to Hospital are indeed an inspiration of hope and true example of God’s teachings of humanity. He strongly demanded the Government of Punjab and in particular the Education Department of Punjab to seriously look into such rising incidents of intolerance in educational institutions. ‘While we definitely need curriculum reforms in order to promote a more tolerant and peace loving society but the teachers also need to be given adequate training on dealing with issues of intolerance that has plagued our society today’. Fr. Mani stated that justice must be served to this poor family and strong measures must be taken so that such tragic incidents may not occur in the future.
The Chairperson of NCJP, His Excellency Bishop Dr. Joseph Arshad prayed for the soul of the deceased and his family. He also emphasized that the Commission is in full support with the family and while the Commission provides legal assistance to the victim’s family, it also demands that the perpetrators must be brought to justice. His Excellency vowed that the Commission will continue its struggle for respect and human dignity in our society.