All of Pakistan’s Catholic bishops have denounced the lynching of a Christian Sri Lankan man by a mob who accused him of blasphemy, tortured him to death and set his body on fire.
In a statement seen by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Pakistan Catholic Bishops Conference (PCBC) and the National (Catholic) Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) expressed outrage at the attack.
Bishop Samson Shukardin of Hyderabad, chairperson of the NCJP, Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad/Rawalpindi, president of the PCBC, and Father Emmanual Yousaf ‘Mani’, national director of NCJP, also issued a joint statement.
They said: “We condemn the killing of the Sri Lankan citizen in Sialkot in a mob attack after he was accused of blasphemy.
“We urge the government to take every measure to bring all the culprits to justice and demand that the government take concrete steps to stop the continuous misuse of the blasphemy laws.
“Lack of accountability of those who incite violence have added to this inhuman trend that paints the picture of Pakistan as a violent society.”
Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana, manager of a garment factory in Sialkot, was killed on Friday (3rd December) after employees accused him of blasphemy for reportedly asking them to remove all stickers from factory machines before a foreign delegation arrived.
There are reports that some of these stickers contained passages from the Qu’ran.
The provincial of the Dominican Order in Pakistan, Father James Channan, O.P., spoke out against the killing of Mr Diyawadana.
He said: “The ghastly murder of an innocent man under a false accusation of blasphemy, and then the lynching of his body in the road, brings shame to Pakistan. All of us are under deep shock.
“This barbaric killing is a crime against humanity. No religion of the world teaches such kind of killing and disgrace of a human person. This extremism in the name of religion should not be tolerated by the government and law enforcing agencies.
“Justice must be done and seen.”
Mr Diyawadana was dragged out onto the road and tortured to death with kicks, stones and iron rods before his body was set on fire.
Footage of the attack circulated on social media and some of the mob were seen taking selfies with Mr Diyawadana’s burning body.
Father Channan said: “We express solidarity and consolation with the family of Priyantha as well as the government of Sri Lanka.”