Pakistani Christians seeking asylum in Thailand continue to suffer owing to negligence and ill-treatment from the UNHCR and Thai authorities.
United Kingdom’s British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has recently aired a documentary depicting the plight of Pakistani Christians seeking asylum in Thailand. Owing to the ever increasing religion based persecution in Pakistan; about 10,000 Christians opted to flee from their homeland. Nonetheless, majority of these fleeing Pakistani Christians have been hooked by the Thai authorities and are now spending days and nights in Bangkok’s over-crowded immigration detention center.
The documentary was filmed by a BBC journalist who was using a hidden camera. He managed to capture the harsh conditions being endured by the detained Pakistani Christians. The documentary included footage of hundreds of Pakistani Christians detained in muggy heat and pitiable conditions. Among these detainees were also mothers along with their children. The documentary also revealed that majority of the children in this detention centre are suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting, as a result of pitiable sanitation and unhygienic drinking water.
However, the situations for those Pakistani Christians who are not hooked by the Thai authorities are not satisfactory. Most of the times these stranded Pakistani Christians have to take refugee in overcrowded apartments and are compelled to survive on aid from local churches or charities.
As the situation worsens for the Pakistani Christians in Thailand, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been reluctant to process their claims for refugee status. As a matter if fact some of the activists claim that UNHCR officials do not really regard Pakistani Christians “as being at a real risk of persecution in their home country.”
The BBC documentary further aired striking examples of the persecuted Pakistani Christians stranded in Thailand. The documentary featured a Pakistani Christian namely Sabir who had fled Pakistan about two years ago accompanied by his extended family. Sabir’s wife had already been hooked by the Thai authorities about two months ago. He told, that he and his extended family; about 10 people in all are now living in a room which has no kitchen or toilet. He said that the UNHCR has stated that his case will not be reviewed until 2018.
However, Sabir said that despite pitiable living conditions, “he doesn’t regret leaving Pakistan.” He said that back in Pakistan he and his family were threatened with death if they did not convert to Islam. “Over here, the only fear we have is of the immigration police, nothing else,” he told the BBC.
Moreover, the BBC journalist also met a Pakistani pastor who revealed that the religious extremists in Pakistan tried to cut off his arm while his sister was burned alive, as penalty for converting to Christianity. However, the report ended with a message of hope from another Pakistani Christian refugee in Thailand, Daniel who said, “Jesus said to us, ‘if someone troubles you, don’t ask for curses for him, instead, you should ask for blessings for him.’ So, we ask for blessings for the UNHCR.”