Thai immigration authorities raided and arrested 45 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers, including (approx. 22) children, who hold United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) asylum seeker cards. They will be brought to court tomorrow, likely put into the horrific conditions at the Immigration Detention Centre IDC. With only 15 days until Christmas, the entire community is devastated.
After the raid this morning, a Christian asylum seeker shared on social media,
Very sorry to say #UNHCRthailand, that in the end, only Christians are becoming victims of everything. First, you delay their cases for years, then took rushed interviews only to refuse them status. When they raised their voice, you accuse them of being against UNHCR. It is nearly Christmas and today, 45 asylum seekers are arrested yet hold UNHCR cards. For God sake, or on humanitarian basis, save them from going in detention. They are not animals, they are human with the same blood like others. H E L P please
Thailand is considered by many as a popular vacation hot spot. But Pakistani Christian refugees live in constant fear of being arrested by Thai officials and returned to Pakistan. Entire families live packed into a single room in Bangkok’s poorest neighborhoods (slums). The children cannot attend school and spend most of their days indoors. Their parents are unable to obtain a work permit and cannot sustain or feed their children without help. Those who find illegal work put themselves at risk of arrest. Simply going out in public brings the threat of detention. But what choice do they have?
When they arrived in Thailand, they immediately applied for asylum with the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR). But the UNHCR often takes years to hold interviews and make a decision in their cases. Thailand never ratified the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, so even UN-designees are considered to have no legal status. This also makes them extremely vulnerable, often threatened, abused, used as scapegoats and manipulated. Being illegal, the abuse goes unreported.
Religious freedom for minorities in Pakistan is practically nonexistent. The World Watch List reports of the 50 worst countries in regards to Christian Persecution. In the 2016 report, Pakistan is number 6.
In the U.S. Commission in International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2016 report concerning Pakistan:
In 2015, the Pakistani government continued to perpetrate and tolerate systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations. Religiously-discriminatory constitutional provisions and legislation, such as the country’s blasphemy law and anti-Ahmadiyya laws, intrinsically violate international standards of freedom of religion or belief and result in prosecutions and imprisonments. The actions of non-state actors, [including Terrorist Organizations], continue to threaten all Pakistanis and the country’s overall security.
The report included Christians, along with other minorities, as facing chronic sectarian and religiously-motivated violence from both terrorist organizations and individuals within society. Discrimination against minorities in textbooks, forced conversions, marriages and rape. The report also exposes the government’s lack of concern and failure to protect minorities.
For years, the Pakistani government has failed to protect citizens, minority and majority alike, from sectarian and religiously-motivated violence. Pakistani authorities also have failed to consistently bring perpetrators to justice or take action against societal actors who incite violence.
Due to Pakistan’s failure to implement systemic changes to address egregious religious freedom violations, the (USCIRF) again recommended 2016 that Pakistan be designated a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), as it has recommended since 2002.
Unite with our Pakistani brothers and sisters in your prayers. Help support those suffering in Thailand and consider sponsoring a family. Many feel at the end of their rope.
Many new cases are brought to Voice of the Persecuted. Our mission has been designed to stay along side these families to help them endure. But we are a small mission trying to help in a big crisis. It is heartbreaking to not have the means to care for all those needing aid. Each month, we rely on and ask the Lord to provide as we continue covering those we already care for. To give us the ability to care for families on our waiting list. We ask for His heart for these dear ones who suffer for their faith in Christ Jesus. We pray for more to partner with us in the mission. As they have had to beg—today, we beg for them. Brothers and sisters, we ask for your help to distribute aid to the persecuted suffering in Thailand.
For more information to sponsor a persecuted family in Thailand, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us not forget them, nor think as the world, ‘someone else will step up to help’. Let us not regret the loss of even one of these ‘family members’ when there is surely a way to share and provide. But any help you can give is appreciated more than you could ever know.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.