At the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s 33rd annual conference side event, Pakistan Minorities Alliance Europe President Noel Malik talked about the desperate situation of Pakistani Christians stuck in Thailand, Nepal, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and other countries.
Christian leaders said that thousands of Christians have fled from Pakistan in the last few years because of the growing persecution in the country. They have been forced to leave their homes and seek refuge in other countries.
Patras pointed out that these Christians seeking asylum in other countries were facing a lot of difficulties. He said that these people were arrested because they had fled from Pakistan and entered these countries illegally and demanded asylum from these countries.
He demanded the Pakistani government to help the Christians suffering in other countries.
Thousands of Pakistani Christians left Pakistan in the recent years due to the growing religious intolerance in Pakistan. After major incidents like burning of Joseph Colony, Gojra Christian settlement and a young couple in a brick kiln, Pakistani Christians feel insecure in the country where everything they have can be lost in a second if they are accused of blasphemy.
The Pakistani Christians head to Thailand because it’s easy to enter the country on a short-term tourist visa and in Pakistan’s hostile neighbourhood there are few safe options closer to hand.
But there is hardly a welcoming committee in Thailand. The country doesn’t want asylum seekers from anywhere. It is not a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention, and anyone without a valid visa or a work permit risks being arrested, charged with illegal immigration and jailed.
Thailand has allowed UN refugee agency, the UNHCR to investigate the cases of these asylum seekers but the main issue arises when UNHCR takes years to investigate these cases resulting in the detainment of hundreds. Many of these families say they’ve been waiting years to be assessed by the UN and they have no access to work, education or healthcare.
As they await the outcome of their case, thousands of Pakistani asylum seekers set up temporary home in dingy rooms in a network of tower blocks on the outskirts of Bangkok. People who were once comfortably-off professionals arrive with just a few possessions, their rent and food paid for by local Christian charities.
And they live in constant fear.
The police conducts regular raids and arrests men, women and children and send them to Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) where they are kept in large, stiflingly hot room, crammed with hundreds of asylum seekers pressing their faces against a wire-mesh internal barrier.