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A Christian teacher faces systematic discrimination at work, support the appeal..

02 Aug

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information
regarding the systematic discrimination faced by a Christian teacher
in Lahore. After being repeatedly abused allegedly by her principal,
she was dismissed without valid ground or lawful compensation. Her
case is another example of the discriminatory treatment that members
of religious minorities – and Christians in particular – receive
in Pakistan.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Ms. Julia Austin, 32, comes from an educated Christian family of
Lahore and studied Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. She has
been teaching mathematics for 11 years and has been employed at Bahria
Town School, a private educational institute in Lahore since February
1, 2007. On June 22, 2010, she was dismissed by her principal, Ms.
Naghmana Ambreen.

Ms. Ambreen, a Muslim woman allegedly known for her hatred for
Christians, repeatedly abused Ms. Austin since 2007. In addition to a
humiliating treatment, notably in front of her students, Ms. Austin
suffered an unjustified downgrading. During a change in the
administration of the school that lasted 5 months and made Mr Javed
Nisar principal, Ms. Austin obtained a senior grade and was made head
of the mathematics department, in reward to her valuable work. As soon
as Ms. Ambreen managed to come back at the head of the school, she
downgraded Ms. Austin and continued her abuses. Other members of the
staff who supported Ms. Austin were also discriminated against or
dismissed by her principal Ms. Ambreen.

On several occasions, Ms. Ambreen showed violent and heinous
behaviour. In mid-2009, after a disagreement with Ms. Nasreen, a
janitor of the school, she allegedly allowed some men to abuse her and
beat her up in front of the school premises.

She also showed religious intolerance. During the change in
administration, the new principal invited a pastor to come and speak
about Christianity and integration of minority religions in Pakistani
society. She advocated against such “un-Islamic” behaviour and had
the principal dismissed. She moreover hired a man, whose qualification
as a teacher is highly questionable. Instead of teaching mathematics,
the man allegedly spreads sectarian teachings and calls the young
students for jihad.

On June 22, 2010, Ms. Austin was called in the principal’s office
and was dismissed without warning. Ms. Ambreen pretended that Ms.
Austin’s results at the annual examination were not sufficient and
that she did not properly prepare her classes. However, the results
published by Agha Khan Examination Board show that Ms. Austin’s
students obtained the highest scores of the school.

In addition to this lack of valid grounds for her dismissal, the
normal procedure was not respected. Indeed, according to the
teachers’ contract, one can be dismissed only after three warning
letters have been issued. Ms. Austin did not receive any and there
would be no reason for her to receive one. Moreover, if a contract is
terminated, the employee must receive the equivalent of a two-month
salary. Ms. Austin did not receive any compensation and was further
denied her full salary, to which the principal deducted more than Rs.
7,000 for days that Ms. Austin supposedly took off. This is completely
illegal, notably as Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays
recognised by the government.

In view of this injustice, Ms. Austin tried to complain to the school
authorities and to ask for a proper inquiry to be conducted into her
dismissal. However, no one among the school direction would listen to
her or accept her complaint. The AHRC contacted a colleague of Ms.
Austin, who asked for her identity not to be disclosed and who
confirmed that Ms. Austin was very badly treated by her principal and
the school authorities and that she was systematically discriminated
against because she is Christian.

Ms. Austin is now having a hard time finding another teaching job, as
Christians suffer from religion-based discrimination. She is asking
for justice and reparation. She is moreover concerned for her
students, who are left with incompetent teachers, preaching religious
hatred and intolerance.

In addition, she does not dare filing an official complaint for fear
of the severe repercussion it might trigger from the Muslim majority
not only against her, but also against the entire Christian community.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Members of religious minorities are regularly assaulted, tortured or
murdered and their property and place of worship are ransacked and
desecrated. The blasphemy laws understand blasphemy only as an offence
against Islam and are used by a criminal nexus between the police, the
administration and religious fundamentalists to intimidate Christians,
Ahmadis and all religious minorities in Pakistan.

The month of July is marked by the killings of two Christian brothers
in July and the anniversary of the Gojra incident during which a
Muslim mob attacked the Christian community after two men were accused
of blasphemy against Islam. Seventy houses were set on fire and seven
Christians, including four women and two children were torched alive.
In this context, no room can be left for religious intolerance.

The Pakistan Constitution states that all citizens are equal before
the law. The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights
further guarantees equality and freedom of religion and expression. As
a signatory of this convention, Pakistan must take strong measures to
put an end to the systematic discrimination faced by religious
minorities. Everyone must remember Jinnah’s speech to the first
Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947:

“You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has
nothing to do with the business of the State … We are starting with
this fundamental principle: that we are all citizens and equal
citizens of one State”.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the authorities to urge them to restore justice for
Ms. Austin. She must be reintegrated in the school she was illegally
dismissed from and must receive compensation for the difficulties she
suffered. An investigation must be launched against Ms. Naghmana
Ambreen, principal of Bahria Town School, Lahore regarding her
discriminating and violent behaviour.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on
freedom of religion or belief.

To support this appeal, please click here:
<http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=UAC-113-2010>

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: A Christian teacher suffers from systematic discrimination
at work

Name of victim: Julia Austin, 32, resident of Lahore

Names of alleged perpetrators: Ms. Naghmana Ambreen, principal of
Bahria Town School, Lahore

Date of incident: June 22, 2010

Place of incident: Bahria Town School, Lahore

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the case of Ms. Julia
Austin, a teacher in Lahore, who suffered systematic discrimination at
work because of her religious belief. She has been teaching
mathematics for 11 years and has been employed at Bahria Town School,
Lahore since February 1, 2007. On June 22, 2010, she was dismissed by
her principal, Ms. Naghmana Ambreen.

I hear that Ms. Ambreen, a Muslim woman known for her hatred for
Christians, repeatedly abused Ms. Austin since 2007. In addition to a
humiliating treatment, notably in front of her students, Ms. Austin
suffered an unjustified downgrading. During a change in the
administration of the school that lasted 5 months and made Mr Javed
Nisar principal, Ms. Austin obtained a senior grade and was made head
of the mathematics department, in reward to her valuable work. As soon
as Ms. Ambreen managed to come back at the head of the school, she
downgraded Ms. Austin and continued her abuses. Other members of the
staff who supported Ms. Austin were also discriminated against or
dismissed by Ms. Ambreen.

I am shocked to know that on several occasions, Ms. Ambreen showed
violent and heinous behaviour. After a disagreement with Ms. Nasreen,
a janitor of the school, she allegedly allowed some men to abuse her
and beat her up in front of the school premises.

She also showed religious intolerance. During the change in
administration, the new principal invited a pastor to come and speak
about Christianity and integration of minority religions in Pakistani
society. She advocated against such “un-Islamic” behaviour and had
the principal dismissed. She moreover hired a man, whose qualification
as a teacher is highly questionable. Instead of teaching mathematics,
the man allegedly preaches Islam and jihad to the young students.

On June 22, 2010, Ms. Austin was called in the principal’s office
and was dismissed without warning. Ms. Ambreen pretended that Ms.
Austin’s results at the annual examination were not sufficient and
that she did not properly prepare her classes. However, according to
my information, the results published by Agha Khan Examination Board
show that Ms. Austin’s students obtained the highest scores of the
school.

In addition to this lack of valid grounds for her dismissal, the
normal procedure was not respected. Indeed, according to the
teachers’ contract, one can be dismissed only after three warning
letters have been issued. Ms. Austin did not receive any and there
would be no reason for her to receive one. Moreover, if a contract is
terminated, the employee must receive the equivalent of a two-month
salary. Ms. Austin did not receive any compensation and was further
denied her full salary, to which the principal deducted more than
7,000 Rs for days that Ms. Austin supposedly took off. This is
completely illegal, notably as Good Friday and Easter Monday are
public holidays recognised by the government.

Ms. Austin is now having a hard time finding another teaching job, as
Christians suffer from religion-based discrimination. She is asking
for justice and reparation. She is moreover concerned for her
students, who are left with incompetent teachers, preaching religious
hatred and intolerance.

Please take immediate measures to restore justice for Ms. Austin. She
must be reintegrated in the school she was illegally dismissed from
and must receive compensation for the difficulties she suffered. An
investigation must be launched against Ms. Naghmana Ambreen, principal
of Bahria Town School, Lahore regarding her discriminating and violent
behaviour.

Yours sincerely,

—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari

President of Pakistan

President’s Secretariat

Islamabad

PAKISTAN

Fax: 92-51-9207458

Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk
<mailto:publicmail@president.gov.pk>

Phone: +92 51 9204801 9214171

2. Mr.Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani

Federal Minister for Human Rights

Ministry of Human Rights

Old US Aid building

Ata Turk Avenue

G-5, Islamabad

PAKISTAN

Fax: +9251 9204108

Email: sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com <mailto:sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com>

3. Mr. Salman Taseer

Governor of Punjab

Governor House

Mall Road

Lahore

PAKISTAN

Fax: +92 42 99203044

Email: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk
<mailto:governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk>

4. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab

Punjab Secretariat

Lahore

PAKISTAN

Fax: +92 42 7324489

E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk <mailto:chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk>

5. Minister of Law

Government of Punjab

Punjab Secretariat

Ravi Road

Lahore

PAKISTAN

Fax: +92 42 99212004

E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk <mailto:law@punjab.gov.pk>

6. Dr. Faqir Hussain

Registrar

Supreme Court of Pakistan

Constitution Avenue, Islamabad

PAKISTAN

Fax: + 92 51 9213452

E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk <mailto:mail@supremecourt.gov.pk>

7. Mr. Tariq Saleem

Inspector-General of Police, Punjab

Police Head Office, Lahore, Punjab province

PAKISTAN

Fax: +92 42 99210064

Thank you.

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Posted by on August 2, 2010 in Christians, Discrimination

 

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