Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Shahbaz Bhatti honoured by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister

The late Shahbaz Bhatti was recently
honoured for his work in defending
religious minorities in Pakistan. 
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on March 14 presented this year’s John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award to the late Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s former Federal Minister for Minorities, and Susana Trimarco, Argentinian activist and founder of the Fundación María de los Ángeles.

With this award, Canada honours the memory of Shahbaz Bhatti, whose determined efforts in the struggle for equality, justice and freedom cost him his life, said Baird in a media release. Braving multiple threats to his safety, Bhatti worked tirelessly to advance the rights of Pakistan’s religious minorities. Peter Bhatti accepted the award on behalf of his late brother.

Shahbaz Bhatti was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2008 and named Federal Minister for Minorities, a portfolio he accepted because of the opportunity it offered to defend the oppressed and marginalized of Pakistan.

As Minister, Bhatti took steps to advance the rights of religious minorities. These included launching a national campaign to promote interfaith harmony. Bhatti also fought valiantly against abuses of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws during his time in government.

Minister Bhatti helped to found the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance in 1985 and subsequently chaired that organization. He also served as head of Pakistan’s Christian Liberation Front, which he formed in 1985. In 2002, he joined the Pakistan People’s Party.

Minister Bhatti visited Canada in February 2011 where he met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, among other government ministers.

Shortly after his visit to Canada, Minister Bhatti was assassinated while on his way to work.

For the complete article from ASSIST News, click here.

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