MUMBAI, Pakistan – Hospital staff at a Pakistan hospital beat a Catholic man to death after he objected to his pregnant sister being slapped by a nurse, an attack condemned by Church leaders in the country.
While at Services Hospital Lahore on March 26, Suneel Masih objected to the treatment his sister received, and insisted the doctor attend to her. He and other family members were then attacked by hospital staff.
“About 20 security guards and 14 doctors punched and attacked my brothers and cousins with batons, chairs and belts,” said Aneel Saleem, a family member who was also attacked.
“He fainted and later died in the same hospital,” he told ucanews.com.
Catholics make up just 2 percent of Pakistan’s population, and face constant discrimination from the country’s Muslim majority. The country’s harsh anti-blasphemy laws also impact the minority, who are often accused of blaspheming Islam in order to settle private land or family disputes.
“The sudden increase in incidents of violence and intolerance have reached an alarming level,” said a statement from the National Commission for Justice and Peace, part of the bishops’ conference.
The statement said it is the responsibility of doctors to give care and support to a patient and treat them with respect regardless of their class, color or creed.
“A doctor’s responsibility is to save lives and not take lives,” said Archbishop Joseph Arshad of Islamabad, the chairman of the commission.
Church officials have demanded the Chief Minister of the Punjab province bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice.
“Justice must be served to the poor family of Suneel,” said Father Emmanuel Yousaf Mani, the national director of the commission. “The government and concerned departments should take strong measures to ensure that such tragic incidents do not occur in the future.”