Thousands of Christians are fleeing Islamic persecution in Pakistan and going to Thailand, only to be further persecuted by the Thai government, and the world is silent on this evil.
Thailand is not amongst the signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, and so it does not have a proper asylum system for its country, and thus Pakistani Christians are not treated as refugees but as illegal immigrants. Many times, and quite very often, Thailand will not even accept Christians, even when they are declared authentic refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
The poor can’t and don’t escape, but the middle and upper classes flee to Thailand …[Back in Pakistan] they are doctors, lawyers, professors, politicians.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch, said:
Pakistan’s blasphemy law has been used in a way to target religious minorities… There has been violence perpetrated against people accused of blasphemy. When facing that kind of persecution, many have no choice but to leave.
Pakistani Christians are frequently stopped by Thai border guards when they are suspected of being followers of the Christian Faith “even with a legal visa or plane tickets.” A great many number of Pakistani Christians are not allowed to come into Thailand until they have paid a bribe. Many are not allowed to cross the border until they have paid a bribe or a fine. One Christian man, Raymond John, recounted from when he and his family had to pay the guards 112,000 Pakistani rupees ($1100):
We refused twice and they would not let us pass, but on the third time, we finally paid.
Our Pakistani representative, Farrukh Saif, spoke with Fox News about the abuses being done by UNHCR against Pakistani Christians in Thailand, saying:
According to a mandate, in 90 days they have to determine the status of these people as refugees, but in reality, it can take four to five years… If a minor, a child, cannot go to school for four to five years, what is his future? A whole generation of Pakistani Christians in Bangkok is being destroyed.
Christians who have come to Thailand have stated that the refugee process is everything but convenient. Sunny Gil is one of them. He said that when he arrived in Thailand in August of 2013, he was given an appointment with the UNHCR for an interview in May 2015 to be assigned refugee status. But, when the time arrived for the interview, it was postponed for a year. Sunny Gil said:
It is silly – the excuses that they give for postponing the interviews. It is such a big organization and they should be able to help us
Moreover, to make matters worse, Pakistanis are not even allowed to work because they do not have refugee status, and, therefore, they have no legal income and no way to earn a living. They often make their money doing illegal jobs or begging and seeking charity from churches. Cyril Lamran of the Christian Asylum Seekers Association of Thailand, a refugee himself, said:
We want to work and we want to earn and support our families on our own… But they’re not giving us the opportunity for us to earn and not providing us basic human rights.
According to the Fox News report:
In March, upwards of 400 Pakistani Christian refugees were reported to have been arrested. Homes were raided by the Thai immigration police and the arrestees were taken to be held at the central jail or the Immigration Detention Center (IDC) in the capital of Bangkok.
Former inmates speak of horrendous conditions, including cramped cells, inadequate nutrition, and children being incarcerated with adults. In the central jail, the men are bound in shackles and forced to stand in the hot sun. In the IDC, up to 200 people can be packed in a room meant for 100, leaving very little space to properly sleep. Many have since been released for up to a year until they get a proper visa, otherwise, they face being put back in the IDC or being deported back to Pakistan.
While Gil said he could, perhaps, see why people were being sent to the IDC (his own sister-in-law was held in central jail and the IDC for one month), he could not understand the need to send refugees back to Pakistan.
“The central jail is for criminals, not asylum seekers, but they put us in jail like we are criminals,” he said. “Even though they are not signatory, there is something called human rights.”
Other concerns also plague these families. The refugees do not have the money to cover medical costs, and multiple families are often forced to share a single room because they cannot afford the rent.
Currently, there are an estimated 4500 Pakistani Christian refugees living in Thailand, and while they wait for help, activists stress the dire need for action to be taken, requesting the international community to hasten the determination process of the UNHCR.
“The UNHCR is the mother of human rights but they’re essentially denying human rights,” John said. “The West has to know the persecution the Christians face in Pakistan and in Thailand. Who will speak for us when those who speak will speak for the government?”
Thousands of Christians are being persecuted by Thailand because Thailand is a very anti-Christian nation. Let’s not forget that it is Buddhist, and many Buddhists have a disdain for Christians. Our organization is fighting hard to help settle Christians in Thailand, and we ask you to help us overpower the corruption of the government, and bring our persecuted brethren in Christ to a safe place.