By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Pastor Rufus Masih, who said he was beaten for reporting the abuse to police, told Worthy News earlier that his 9-year-old daughter “was raped” by a school driver. The suspect worked at the community classroom school in the area of Kuala Lumpur, the capital, where Masih and his family have been living as refugees.
Masih said those attending the school include young refugees supported by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.
A source with close knowledge about the case, who did not want to be identified, said the accused school driver was fired and has been detained. “He is in jail pending the trial’s outcome.” The accused was charged with “molesting” the child, but not rape, the source added. Molesting can still involve sexual abuse.
The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, is involved in the investigation, Worthy News learned. Masih also said he is recovering from his injuries as he was nearly beaten to death by for filing a police report against the suspect who “raped” his daughter.
The pastor said he went to the police despite facing pressure not to report the abuse. “As a father, I want justice for my daughter,” he stressed.
Worthy News received the names of the detained suspect and a school principal, which it did not yet publish pending the investigation. Masih said he reported the rape to police but, while returning home, was attacked by three masked men.
“They were like professional boxers. They beat me up and left me bleeding on the street,” Masih recalled. “The attackers asked me why I had him arrested by police. Later, they must have thought I had died. But it was by God’s grace that I survived and managed somehow to reach home.”
Pictures seen by Worthy News showed the pastor with severe head wounds, with his face disfigured by the beatings. After the August 21 attempt on his life, he said he reported the violence to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR and local police.
But he and others have complained that both the U.N. and local authorities appear reluctant to help minority Christian refugees.
The rape of his daughter opened up wounds for the pastor, who fled to Malaysia with his wife, child, and sister-in-law. “My sister-in-law was raped in Pakistan by Islamic extremists on March 9, 2018,” he remembered.
“I tried to rescue her, was beaten by the extremists,” Masih suggested that the attackers were angry because they are devoted Christians. “They demanded that we would abandon our Christian faith and accept Islam. We refused, despite the suffering. But after the horrific incident, we fled to Malaysia. But now the same thing is happening to us here,” the pastor noted.
He says he hasn’t given up hope that he and his family will receive asylum one day.
“But the UNHCR process in Malaysia is prolonged. Now I am very worried. I am afraid of being attacked again; I am injured and sick.” The beatings and sexual abuse his family endured are the latest in a list of difficulties experienced by Christian refugees in Muslim-majority Malaysia. “I am trying to encourage them with the Gospel. Like them, I know what it is to suffer. Officially I cannot have a church here yet. But we still have meetings,” Pastor Masih told Worthy News.
The refugees and asylum seekers he meets undergo a lengthy process of detailed and extensive interviews that can take months or years before being handed the UNHCR card, Worthy News established.
The UNHCR says the card giving them refugee status provides some protection while they live in Malaysia, awaiting potential resettlement in a third country.
However, Malaysia recently made a new government tracking system for its more than 184,000 United Nations-registered refugees and asylum seekers, including Christians, a “must.” Thousands of refugees in Malaysia have escaped from countries including Pakistan, as well as Myanmar, Syria, and Yemen.
That has raised concerns about the risks to people such as Gospel-preaching Pastor Masih, who says they lack legal status or protections in Malaysia.
Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin announced in August that the federal government had approved using the Tracking Refugees Information System (TRIS).
The minister warned that all refugees had to register on the system to “identify the whereabouts of refugees and their reporting in the country.”
But Pastor Masih said he believes Christ leads the way, and he asked Christians to “please help” and at least pray for him and his family facing an uncertain future In Malaysia.
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