In the midst of escalated crackdown against asylum seekers in Thailand, the Human Rights Watch has urged the Thai Premier General Prayut Chan-ocha not to deport Pakistani Christian asylum seekers. Thai immigration authorities have recently arrested scores of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand and have started deporting them.
Human Rights Watch declared that majority of Pakistani asylum seekers arrested in Thailand are Christians or Ahmedis. “We are writing to express our serious concerns regarding arrests and possible deportation of Pakistani asylum seekers in Thailand. According to media reports, most of the Pakistani asylum seekers that have recently been arrested in Thailand are from the Christian and Ahmadiyya Communities”, HRW wrote in its letter
In this regard, Brad Adams, Asia Director of Human Rights Watch stated: “The Thai government may not fully appreciate the grave dangers facing Pakistani Christians and Ahmadis back in Pakistan. It’s critically important for Thai authorities to free Pakistanis recognized as refugees from detention and not to return any into harm’s way in violation of international law.”
Thai immigration authorities have executed an unrelentingly stern crackdown called the Operation X-Ray Outlaw Foreigner against the refugees and asylum seekers. Scores of Pakistani refugees and asylum seekers have been arrested on visa related charges.
In October, Thai authorities conducted raids and detained about 100 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Bangkok. Pakistani Christians detained by the immigration authorities include women and children also. Police charged these Pakistani Christians of illegal entry and overstay regardless of the fact that they escaped religious persecution in their homeland.
Grappling with fear, the Pakistani Christians who escape detention take refuge in churches or in homes of local people. The recent episode of crackdown has put about 2,500 Pakistani Christian refugees in Bangkok on pins and needles.Some of the detainees include those who have been granted refugee status by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Refugee status protects a person from being detained in connection to visa-related matters.