"Iqbal Masih, a brave and eloquent boy who attended several international conferences to denounce the hardships of child weavers in Pakistan, was shot dead while he and some friends were cycling in their village of Muridke, near Lahore".
Iqbal Masih was born in 1983 in Muridke, a commercial city outside of Lahore in Punjab, Pakistan, into a poor Christian family. At age four, he was put to work by his family to pay off their debts. Iqbal's family borrowed 600 rupees (less than $6.00) from a local employer who owned a carpet weaving Business. In return, Iqbal was required to work as a carpet weaver until the debt was paid off. Every day, he would rise before dawn and make his way along dark country roads to the factory, where he and most of the other children were tightly bound with chains to prevent escape. He would work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with only a 30-minute break. He paid 10 dollars a day for the loan, but the loan continued to increase.
In 1994 he received the Reebok Human Rights Award in Boston and in his acceptance speech he said: "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 Labour Liberation Front (BLLF), I go out in freedom I am standing in front of you here today. After my freedom, I join 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."
Iqbal was fatally shot by Ashraf Hero, a heroin addict, while visiting relatives in Muridke, Pakistan on 16 April 1995, Easter Sunday. He was 12 years old at the time. His mother said she did not believe her son had been the victim of a plot by the "carpet mafia". However, the Bonded Labour Liberation Front disagreed because Iqbal had received death threats from individuals connected to the Pakistani carpet industry.