Plight of refugees in Thailand

British Pakistani Christian Association

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Thailand’s military apprehend Pak-Christian women


Hundreds of Pak-Christian asylum seekers detained in crackdown following Islamic extremist bomb attack in Bangkok


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In a major police crackdown in Bangkok, Thailand hundreds of asylum seekers were arrested for overstaying there tourists visas. The majority of those arrested were the ignored Pak-Christian asylum seeker community, two Somali families and one Afghan family.

At 10 am on 10th September 2015, immigration officers visited Delight Condos in Pracha Uthit, Soi 51 accompanied by a mass of police officers and the military forces of Thailand. Security forces have been clamping down on illegal immigration since the recent bomb blast in Bangkok’s centre at the Erawan Hindu shrine, one of Thailand’s most famous and popular tourist locations.

Over 100 asylum seekers from many nations were questioned by the police and 91 were taken to the infamous and brutal Immigration Detention Centre, in the capital. The Thailand United Nations Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR) negotiated the release of 27 of those captured under the terms of asylum seekers with ‘special concerns’, none of whom were Pak-Christians. The special terms included vulnerable women who were pregnant and their children, and the elderly. This current negotiation is quite a precedent by the UNHCR and follows the submission of a report on the scandal of the UNHCR with Pak-Christians that was delivered in by our Chairman Wilson Chowdhry in person to Senior Protection Officer at the UNHCR Peter Trotter, in Bangkok on Tuesday 9th September 2015. The report commssioned by the BPCA, and co authored by two genocide scholars Professor Rainer Rothfuss and former Senior lecturer at De Montford University Desmond Fernandes, contained details of the insouciance towards asylum seekers in Thailand by the UNHCR and highlighted that although the Thai Government had not signed UN Conventions on Asylum – nether the 1951 or 1967 versions – they had signed the following conventions, which meant the UN had a significant responsibility to ensure adherence to:

– Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (December 10, 1948)
– International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (October 29, 1996)priam
– Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (October 2, 2007)
– Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (January 9, 2012)
– Convention on the Rights of the Child (March 27, 1992).

The report primarily focuses on the rights of Pak-Christian asylum seekers who make up the largest body of asylum seekers in Thailand, reported to be around 4600 by the UN but German NGO International Society for Human Rights placed the figure much higher at 8000. The report highlights the delay in Resettlement Status Determinations (RSD) for which an interview can take up to 4 years, leaving victims easily deportable, from here refugees status can take a further 4 years and resettlement a similar period. The UN documents have no worth in Thailand and arrest are indiscriminate of those with or without them. The report describes the scandalous overcrowding in Thailand’s Detention centre; the disturbing failure to process asylum applications with many delayed until 2018; poor levels of resources and personnel for the UNHCR; failure to provide or permit legal representation for detainees; failure to protect women and children; inadequate and flawed translation provision often by Muslims to Christians who believe they have a biased agenda; the denial of education for children and young people; meagre health care, leading to deteriorating conditions and deaths of refugees while detained and soon after release; and dismissal of evidence detailing an escalation in violence against the tiny Christian minority and the well founded fear of lethal persecution.

Despite the report the UNHCR believes the main failing is with the Thai Government, a spokesperson said:

“in my view, a primary focus of advocacy efforts should be the main source of the challenge, namely the RTG (Royal Thai Government) and the absence of a legal framework for addressing the needs of persons of seeking international protection.”

The BPCA is calling for the UNHCR to pursue better rights for Pak-Christian asylum seekers by calling for a reassessment of the current risk profiling. The UNHCR cites Britain’s Home Office policy statement (Feb 2013) that Pakistani Christians don’t suffer persecution. In which Theresa May summarises the policy as such “Christians in Pakistan are a religious minority who, in general, suffer discrimination but this is not sufficient to amount to a real risk of persecution.”

The UNHCR does not need to follow any particular country for their assessments and we call on them to review the positions of countries such as Holland and Canada who have both adopted “High Risk” status for Pak-Christians. The BPCA is also launching a campaign to improve the current misinformed position held by Britain. Lord Alton at a meeting with Wilson Chowdhry in Bangkok on Tuesday said:

“The exodus from Pakistan is driven by visceral hatred and a fanatical disregard for the rights of minorities. In a country where the brave Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, can be murdered in broad daylight, where churches are bombed, where an illiterate woman can be sentenced to death of alleged blasphemy charges, where a husband and wife can be burnt alive in front of their young children, and where there is a culture of impunity which rarely leads to those responsible being brought to justice, it is little wonder that many Christians are fleeing for their lives. It doubly compounds their suffering when the international community fails to step up to the plate in defence of those who have to endure such pitiless suffering and hardship.”

BPCA has set up a fund for the release of Pak-Christians asylum seekers, for whom it will cost 50,000 baht (£1000) to release on bail. Once released on bail families have a two year protection from re-arrest and we hope and pray that many of you will help us to deliver them from the awful conditions in the IDC. Lord Alton visited the Thailand Immigration Detention Centre following a conversation with Chairman of the BPCA in June. During his visit to Thailand he noticed the despicable conditions of asylum seekers caged within the undersized and over capacitated cells in which refugees numbering in their hundreds are forced to sleep crouching, standing up, laying over one another and have to organise themselves into sleeping shifts. Food consists of boiled cucumber and rice in small proportions and all inmates look presentably emaciated. Toilets are flooded and overflowing, are too few for the number of detainees and create a rancid stench that is overpowering.

Wilson Chowdhry of the BPCA said:

“Pakistani Christians are the most ignored persecuted minority globally, despite the copious amount of evidence pertaining to the ever-present danger of persecution they face. Britain and America hold disingenuous positions with regards to asylum for Christians form Pakistan, based on protection of their existing economic ties through trade agreement and their desire to continue ally status in the war against terror. This is unhealthy and limits the desire for change in the corrupt nation of Pakistan, which has become a birthing ground for extremists and has now resulted in UNCHR misinformation, allowing millions to continue suffering and thousands who escaped violence to become repersecuted. Unchallenged the existing protocols will mean many will continue to live in terror or die in despicable circumstances. The UNHCR must simply undertake more research on the quality of life for Pakistani Christians, maybe in the form of an officer living with a Christian family to understand the real implications of religious intolerance in Pakistan.”

Please consider giving to our work for the innocent. Donations can be sent using these bank details:

Payee: BPCA

Sort Code: 20-44-22
Account number: 43163318
Bank: Barclays

Ref: Love for Pak-Christians in Thailand
For international donations please use these details:
IBAN: GB62 BARC 20442243163318
SWIFTBIC: BARCGB22

Alternatively you can use the PayPal facility on the top right hand corner of our blog, our PayPal email address is info@britishpakistanichristians.org.

Cheques should be made payable to the BPCA to our address: 57 Green Lane, Ilford, Essex, IG1 1XG.

Thank you.

 

British Pakistani Christian Association

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Lord Alton visits Thailand Immigration Detention Centre 



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In a few hours Chairman of the BPCA, Wilson Chowdhry, will be leaving for Thailand for a three day trip during which he will meet Lord Alton, senior officers of the UNHCR, and the British Embassy. During this meeting Mr Chowdhry will raise concerns about the mistreatment, brutality and destitution faced by thousands of Pak-Christians in Thailand.

After a series of email and telephone conversations with Mr Chowdhry in July, Lord Alton added a two day visit to Thailand (4th and 5th September) into his schedule in South East Asia, where he was visiting Karen Christians in Burma. During his visit he met with asylum seekers, and visited the notorious Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok. A report can be read here (click here).

The BPCA has commissioned a report entitled “Education, Human Rights Violations in Pakistan and the Scandal Involving UNHCR and Asylum Seekers in Thailand”. The book was co-authored by Professor Desmond Fernandes and Professor Rainer Rothfuss, two pre-eminent genocide experts and was completed yesterday. Mr Chowdhry will print out initial drafts which will be delivered to Lord Alton, the British Embassy and UNHCR. It is hoped that this will change the approach of the UNHCR who can take up to 10 years to resettle asylum seekers from Thailand, resulting in 8 deaths just this year of those with treatable and curable conditions. It is hoped the same report will also be delivered directly.

Producing and printing detailed reports such as this is an expensive process, however, these reports empower the global political process and can help change legislative frameworks. The BPCA is committed to bringing societal change that is longstanding and not just reactive. From next week the report will be available on our website at a cost of £2.50, and in October a printed publication will be available both from our website and from Amazon. The profits from the sales of this seminal work, together with your donations, will enable our advocacy work to continue and grow.

Earlier this year in April Wilson Chowdhry visited Thailand to assess the needs of the thousands of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand, which the UN believes to be in the region of 4600, however German NGO International Solidarity for Human Rights places the figure closer to 8000. Reasons for Christians fleeing Pakistan are numerous and include the notorious blasphemy law of Pakistan; biased Constitution of Pakistan; large scale bomb attacks and frequent mass mob attacks on Christian communities; untouchable status; “honour” killings for interfaith marriages; and lack of equality.

An alarming statistic uncovered by Muslim NGO “The Movement of Solidarity and Peace”, based in Pakistan, states that every year 700 Christian girls are kidnapped, raped and forced into Islamic marriage – is it any surprise then that Pak-Christians are fleeing their homeland in their droves? The majority of Pak-Christian asylum seekers in Thailand come from wealthy or middle-class backgrounds, forced to flee their homeland when blasphemy allegations have been laid on them by envious Muslims.

BPCA has now initiated a school that serves 50 Pak-Christian asylum seekers’ children and we have also been providing them with medical supplies and treatment. Additionally we are supporting people with food parcels and rent payments in order that they can maintain their squalid living conditions, as we simply do not have the resources to help improve them. The need is too great for NGOs to help and collaborative partnerships between charities working in Thailand are a beacon of hope and almost idyllic. But there is still great need and BPCA would ask that you please help us make the lives of these suffering minorities more bearable.

Please Pray:

UNHCR and The British Embassy will read the report and heed what is said
Lasting change for asylum seekers and refugees will be implemented
God will strengthen, sustain and protect Pak-Christian asylum seekers while they await processing and resettlement
Prejudice against Pak-Christians will cease and there will be more unity amongst believers

MORE…….Christian Leader in Pakistan Begs West to Open Doors to Persecuted Pakistani Christians

9/10/2015 Pakistan (Daily Pakistan)
A Christian leader in Pakistan has begged the West to open its doors to persecuted Christians fleeing Pakistan. This comes as European nations announce their intentions to take in thousands of Syrian refugees. It is estimated 30,000 Christians have fled Pakistan due to persecution and are now living as refugees in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia. These Christian refugees are still seeking resettlement by the UNHCR because Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia do not resettle refugees.
  • Pray that God would move the leaders of the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and other European countries to open their doors to the persecuted Pakistani Christians
  • Pray for the provision of thousands of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers who are suffering in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand and other southeastern Asian countries
  • Pray that God would turn around the displacement of Pakistani Christians for His good and that these refugees would spread the Gospel and win many souls for Christ
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