The rising level of intolerance towards the religious minorities of the country, places Pakistan among the top ranked intolerant countries of the world. Pakistan has strict Blasphemy laws to protect Islam, where these laws are often seen to be abused by masses to fix personal scores. The lack of rule of law and government protection then makes it even harder for Christians to find justice in their own country.
A large number of this persecuted Christian population flees to other countries for protection, to escape rape, forced conversions, blasphemy allegations, and threats to be killed and burnt down. As many as 7500 Pakistanis were reported to be seeking asylum in Thailand in 2015, of which 4000 are Christian minority families from Pakistan.
Thousands of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers arrive with a few possessions and set up temporary homes in shabby rooms in the outskirts of Bangkok. However, with drastic increase in the number of asylum seekers, the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has failed to process asylum claims efficiently. Due to which the Thai government has now lost patience with UN’s failure to fulfill its duty.
In the police raids at these houses as many as hundred asylum seekers are arrested each month and put in overcrowded detention centers. Women and children are usually kept in the same cells, where children are mostly suffering from diarrhea and vomiting because of poor sanitation and dirty drinking water.
In other instances, women and children are separated and families are kept apart in as long their claims are not heard by the UN. Moreover, there have been incidences of few deaths in detention centers because of lack of medical facilities available to people.
However, still other unfortunate ones are thrown in Central Jails and face even worse living conditions. Men are required to shave off their heads, their hands and feet are put in shackles (weighing around 4 kg), and they wear orange prisoner clothes like other imprisoned rape and murder criminals of the jail.
Hundreds of men are crammed in small units and forced to sleep naked at night, where they take turns to sleep while standing and lying on floor.
“For the LORD hears the needy and does not despise His who are prisoners”. (Psalm 69: 33)
The Asian Human Rights Commission acknowledged the hardships of the vulnerable people and issued a statement of concern on the detention of refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand. It specified the violation of Convention of Right of Children who must not be detained for migration related purposes.
It further emphasized that these are refugees and asylum seekers; they need to be protected and not victimized.
However, not much has changed for these Christian persecuted families, as they are still denied medical facilities due to financial constraints; and are declined work and education till the UN hears their cases.
It's hard to say that how long these people will struggle to restore a safe and dignified life again!
“We are pressed down on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, yet not in despair; persecuted, yet not forsaken; smitten, yet not destroyed”. (2 Corinthians 4: 8-9)
Indeed God is not forsaking His people in their time of bitter trial. Let us pray that God showers His mercy on his people who suffer persecution after persecution.
I am the Holy Name representative for Aid to the Church in Need.