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By BosNewsLife Asia Service

MANISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Impoverished Christian villagers in eastern Pakistan were awaiting justice Monday, April 28, after a Christian farm worker was reportedly nearly beaten to death by his Muslim landlord for observing the Easter holiday.

The violence against Saleem Masih in Bagree village in Kasur District was the latest in a series of Muslim attacks against Christian workers in the region, said Mushtaq Gill, director of advocacy group Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD).

"He has been working five years for his Muslim landlord" who was publicly identified as Muhammad Abbas, whose father is a village chief, Gill said.

"Saleem left the work on Easter and came back on his work enjoying two days more as holidays," Gill said. However, "the landlord became furious and beat him severely. He was eventually was rescued and saved by some other villagers, otherwise he could have been beaten to death."

POLICE INVESTIGATING

Local police said it was investigating the case, and a hearing against the suspect was expected at the regional court.

However, the "physical torture not only happens with those who work in fields," cautioned Gill. He said others targeted included brick-kiln workers who "are also being beaten and tortured by brick-kiln owners."

Gill said the workers, many of them Christians, "are forced into bonded labour, denied minimum wages and harassed and implicated in fake cases if they try to resist the oppression of their influential masters."

Though, "Laws to protect workers already exist...their implementation is weak,” Gill said. “The government is working on strengthening implementation so workers’ problems and poverty can be reduced.”

He said LEAD is pressuring authorities to end the "torture" of workers in this heavily Islamic nation. "We support human dignity and honour without faith and caste based discrimination," he said, adding that his group also demands "equality, religious liberty and the rule of law" without religious persecution.

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