Thailand: Christian asylum seeker threatened by Pakistani embassy officials

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Pakistani Christian girl seeking asylum in Thailand has been facing harassment from the officials of Pakistani Embassy in Thailand. Details emerged that Pakistani embassy officials have threatened the victim 23-year-old, Maherwar Izhaq and her family whilst pressurizing her to withdraw her complain of sexual harassment by one of the embassy officers.

Embassy of Pakistan in Thailand

In line with British Pakistani Christian Association report, Pakistani Embassy is exerting pressure on Maherwar Izhaq and her family to refute her previous allegations that she was sexually harassed by Ayaz- an official from Pakistani Embassy. Pakistani embassy officials are allegedly threatening marooned Pakistani Christian family of deportation and abduction and even killing of Maherwar.

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The embassy maintains that Maherwar has co-conspired with BPCA in order to find asylum in Thailand. Embassy officials are demanding Maherwar to produce a letter stating that her allegations were baseless. On the other hand, Pakistani Christian girl Maherwar maintains that Ayaz had tried to sexually exploit her when she had approached embassy for renewal of her passport.

The incident first surfaced when BPCA report on June 6, revealed On 6th June 2017 British Pakistani Christian Association revealed the despicable actions of Ayaz who occupies a senior position at the Pakistani Embassy. Ayaz is in charge of machine readable passport processing at the embassy. The incident took place when Maherwar visited the embassy for passport renewal.

Ayaz allegedly tried to seduce her later sexually harassing her in a meeting where she was deceptively called to discuss her passport renewal options. Ayaz told Maherwar that her passport could not be renewed as asylum seekers were not entitled for a passport renewal under law. He told her to meet him outside the embassy premises so that other possible ways could be discussed.

Maherwar was unable to meet him which was followed by several offers of a private meeting. Maherwar under the impression that Ayaz could cancel her passport renewal application agreed to meet him. On the appointed date, Ayaz changed the venues several times eventually took her to flat which was not in use.

He allegedly offered Maherwar a drink, which she refused. Later on Ayaz smacked her and in an attempt to pressurize her to yield. Maherwar pushed Ayaz with full force which landed him off balance giving her an opportunity to escape from the flat.

Subsequently, Maherwar described the incident to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. UNHCR advised her not to inform the police about the incident despite the fact that she was a UNHCR registered asylum seeker. On May 25, BPCA reported the incident to the Embassy of Pakistan and got a complaint registered on Maherwar’s behalf.

BPCA while detailing the response of Pakistani Embassy states: “The Pakistani Embassy’s reaction to the incident has been galling. They have stated that they require an interview with Maherwar Ishaq but refuse to hold the interview on neutral ground.”

BPCA Chairman, Mr Wilson Chowdhry approached UNHCR requesting for a UNHCR officer to accompany Maherwar while she would be interviewed by the embassy officials. UNHCR agreed to provide an officer who would act as a chaperon for Maherwar on a neutral territory, refusing to do so in case the interview was held at the Pakistan Embassy.

BPCA chairman claims that after the complaint was filed, embassy tried to protect Ayaz. He said that despite the fact some calls from Ayaz were recorded in which he could be clearly heard; trying to harass and threaten Maherwar.

BPCA details that the embassy of Pakistan later offered a chaperon to Maherwar however, on September 19, she was informed by her stepbrother that the embassy offered him to dissuade her from pursuing the allegations. The embassy had allegedly offered Maherwar’s father Mr. Izhaq all possible aid required to settle in Thailand, if the allegations were dropped. BPCA has provided Maherwar with a safe house, however there are still risks to her life as the embassy officials have reported threatened to either abduct her or even kill her.