We have reported multiple times of the abuses that Pakistani Christians face in Pakistan. They live in constant fear for their lives, unable to carry on with normalcy. Asia Bibi is awaiting a death sentence by hanging. Many have fled death threats and Fatwa’s and are living in countries such as Thailand. We know of many, that only want to live normal lives. Forced underground, awaiting hearings with the UNHCR. Now it appears that the Thailand Government has began a campaign to arrest these precious people. The AP did an exclusive story a few weeks ago about the plight of these Christian’s who fled Pakistan and are living in Thailand. Forced to live in one room apartments and scrounge for a living. Living in fear daily that they will be arrested even though they have applied for Assylum and are awaiting hearing dates with the UNHCR. But unfortunately the UN has abandoned them. We have heard over and over that the UNHCR even though it has a presence in Thailand are either unwilling or unable to provide the assistance to refugees. Why do they have a presence there if they don’t help. This is a question that needs answered.
We have just learned that this started on March 2, 2015 and no major networks are covering it. Hundreds of Christians arrested and forced to live in conditions that would be inhumane to animals. We have discovered that they put 80 people in rooms only large enough for 20. They are then kept there for up to 5 years. In limbo waiting for the UNHCR to decide to send them somewhere else. Thailand is not a signatory for the UN. We have verified these reports, and found daunting consequences for these individuals. They are afraid, they feel abandoned, they feel that they have done something wrong. They have sought a better life, a life free from harassment, free from threat, and safety for their children and instead they have a life where they are treated as criminals. In a world where Christian genocide is taking place, Christians are being burned alive, beheaded, tortured, raped and on the run, this seems surreal. Is there no safe place in the world for Christians?
The Jesuit Refugee Service had a presence there until November of last year offering legal advice and limited services until they closed their doors.
“The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organization that aids refugees, forcibly displaced peoples, and asylum seekers. JRS operates at national and regional levels. Founded in November, 1980 as a work of the Society of Jesus, JRS was officially registered on March 19, 2000 in Vatican City as a foundation. The impetus to found JRS came from the then father general of the Jesuits, Pedro Arrupe, who was inspired to action by the plight of Vietnamese boat people. JRS’s international headquarters are located in Rome. They have programs in 51 countries. The areas of work are in the field of Education, Emergency Assistance, Health and Nutrition, Income-Generating Activities, and Social Services. In total, more than 600,000 individuals have been beneficiaries of JRS projects.”
Thailand’s official religion is Buddhism comprising 94.6% of the population. Christianity represents only 0.7% of the population. Sunni Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus make up the rest. These families and others like them are fleeing persecution in their home countries, only to find themselves in thrown into prison conditions that would destroy even hardened criminals. Immigrant workers and their children are subjected to these harsh conditions until the UN resettles them or they agree to return to the countries persecuting them. Imagine the harshness of this when many decide it would be better to return to a certain death penalty than live in these conditions. Families are separated many not seeing each other again. The trauma of fleeing will stay with them forever, but add to that the abuses they face if arrested, and it’s unimaginable. Children are the hardest hit.
Human rights watch reports that alternatives to these detention centers do exist. Like open reception centers and conditional release. But as of now, the Thai government refuses to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. Read the Human Rights Watch report here.
Sympathizers with the Thai government called “Loyalists” have recently sent hate filled threats to the UNHCR via facebook to stop funding, because of a refugee they helped to resettle in New Zealand. This refugee was part of the ‘red shirt’ demonstrations there a few years ago.
The Red Shirt demonstrations as your know were part of a prolonged series of political protests occurred in Bangkok, Thailand in 2010 from March to May against the Democrat Party-led government. The protests were organized by the National United Front of Democracy Against Dictatorship(UDD) (known as “Red-Shirts”). The UDD called for Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva to dissolve parliament and hold elections earlier than the end of term elections scheduled in 2012.
The UDD demanded that the government stand down, and negotiations failed to set an election date. The protests escalated into prolonged violent confrontations between the protesters and the military, and attempts to negotiate a ceasefire failed. More than 80 civilians and 6 soldiers were killed, and more than 2,100 injured by the time the military successfully cracked down on the protesters on 19 May.
So these abuses go unchecked. Why in a global society of today are countries allowed to have such human rights abuses, rendering the body responsible for global peace virtually ineffective. For Christians in the West it’s hard to imagine that this is happening at all, much less on the scale of today. It’s hard to imagine the persecution of of those worshiping their Christian Faith much less what happens when they flee to what they think is safety. A false safety. Running from the wolves straight into the swamp filled with allegators. It’s hard to understand, hard to comprehend, how a modern world is powerless to help the most vulnerable of it’s society.
The refugees we have spoken to, are very much wanting to be a viable part of society, pulling more than their fair share. So why are they refused entry? They hold many talents and skills, and attainable goals for themselves and the communities they wish to live. So why are they treated as animals and criminals? These are questions we want answered, we are writing to the UNHRC, and the Government of Thailand on their behalf. Won’t you write to your representatives and ask these same questions? The UN Security Council is due to meet on March 27th to take up one such question as to the Persecution of Christians in the middle east. Let’s raise our voices and demand some answers.