More than 4000 Pakistani Christians who fled to Thailand to seek refuge are now facing arrests, deportation and the status of illegal immigrants. After arrival in Bangkok, on tourist visas, and immediately making an application for asylum as a persecuted Christian, people are issued the “person of concern card”.
Interview hearings have been scheduled for years and some have even been postponed further. Asylum seekers have long out lived their tourist visas.
The story of Pakistani Pastor Ahmed (name withheld for security reasons) is similar. Holding on to the thin ray of hope to get entry into a nation where his family will not be persecuted for religion, Ahmed faces every day with a new struggle.
After mass arrests by the Bangkok police, people have been confined to their dark, dingy, and hot one room flats. They live under the constant fear of getting arrested as they no longer have valid visas.
Pastor Ahmed, an educated, capable man, cannot work because he is now in Thailand illegally. He and his family, and hundreds of other Christian asylum seekers from Pakistan pray each day for their next meal. Their children cannot go to school. They share a single room in a Bangkok slum with another Christian family; all living in the one room flat, sleeping on the floor
As bad as his current conditions are, Ahmed says he is thankful to be here. He cannot go back to Pakistan where he and his family face death. Ahmed misses his home, church, and friends and family in Pakistan, but he knows he must keep looking forward, not back.