Iqbal Masih was a Pakistani Christian boy who became an activist against bounded abusive child labour in Pakistan. He was born in 1983 in Muridke, a city outside of Lahore in Punjab, Pakistan, into a poor Christian family. He was put to work to pay off the debts. Iqbal’s family borrowed money from a local employer who owned a carpet weaving business. Therefore, Iqbal was required to work as a carpet weaver until the debt was paid off by his family.
He would wake before dawn every day and make his way through the dark roads to the factory, where he and most of the other children were restrained with chains, to the carpet looms so they could not escape. Iqbal knew the debt would not be paid off soon. He could not take it anymore. He ripped one of the carpets and got himself in serious trouble with the factory owner Hussain Khan. At the age of 10, Iqbal discovered that bonded labour was declared illegal by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He escaped from the factory and went to the police to report, but the police brought him back to the owner. The owner told the police to tie him upside down if he ever tried to escape again.
Iqbal escaped the factory for the second time and he joined the Bonded Labor Liberation Front (BLLF) School for former child slaves. Therefore, he was a sharp boy and completed a four-year education in only two years. Iqbal helped over 3,000 Pakistani children that were in bonded labour. He helped them escape to freedom. He wanted to become a lawyer so he can help free bonded labourers, and raise a voice against the people who were still forcing children into labour. Moreover, he was invited to other countries including Sweden and the United States to share his story, make a speech about child labour throughout the world.
I am one of those millions of children who are suffering in Pakistan through bonded labour and child labour, but I am lucky that due to the efforts of Bonded Labor Liberation Front (BLLF), I go out in freedom I am standing in front of you here today. After my freedom, I joined BLLF School and I am studying in that school now. For us, slave children, Ehsan Ullah Khan and BLLF have done the same work that Abraham Lincoln did for the slaves of America. Today, you are free and I am free too.In 1994 he received the Reebok Human Rights Award in Boston and in his Acceptance Speech
Iqbal was fatally shot by the carpet Mafia, while he was in Muridke, Pakistan on 16 April 1995. He was 12 years old at the time. However, the Bonded Labor Liberation Front told Iqbal had received death threats from individuals connected to the Pakistani carpet industry. Iqbal Masih was brutally shot by the carpet because he oppressing the children to escape from the factories as it was illegal. He wanted to put an end to child slavery. He was a 12-year-old Pakistani hero.