Following a BBC report (British media outlet) that revealed the mistreatment of asylum seekers in Thailand, the country has blocked the entry of humanitarian agencies into detention centres, where Pakistani Christians who have fled religious persecution in their own country are being held.
According to the British Pakistani Christian Association, family members and humanitarian agencies are no longer allowed to visit Pakistani Christian detainees, including those requiring regular medical attention such as expectant mothers, old people, disabled people and some with severe health conditions.
In an online petition, the Association reports that, in the lead up to Easter, more than 20 family members and humanitarian workers sought to provide food for malnourished detainees, but they were not allowed access to the detention centres.
A family member, Wilson Chowdhry, is quoted as saying: “I was informed that, despite having a familial connection to a Pakistani Christian detainee, I would not be permitted entry to the IDC,”
Authorities are insisting that a letter of authority to all visitors is issued by a Thai church, but if anyone is found to be a journalist, then that church would be investigated or even suspended. The petition is calling the action “a shameless act of retaliation for [the BBC] revealing … the inhuman treatment of already persecuted Christians.”
For the Christians in the detention centres, a visit by a caring humanitarian worker is “a real morale booster,” says the petition, adding that “the suffering detainees are forced to live in squalid, cramped conditions” wherein some of them are having to sleep standing up due to lack of space. Already, two detainees with treatable and curable illnesses have died in the detention centres this year.
“The health and morale of detainees in Thailand has reached a crisis point, with some inmates seriously considering suicide,” says Wilson Chowdhry.
Most of the detainees are converts from Islam and would face death if they are deported back to Pakistan.
According to the BBC, while Thailand has allowed the UNHCR to step in and investigate the credibility of those claiming to flee persecution, many of the families seeking asylum say they’ve been waiting for years to be assessed by the UN and they have no access to work, education or healthcare.
- Pray for the Pakistan Christian Asylum Seekers in Thailand, who face not only a long wait for their case to be processed, but also daily risk arrest and deportation by the Thai authorities.
- Pray for protection for these Christians, and for access to clean water, food, education and heath care to be opened up to them.
- Pray that the asylum seekers will not lose hope, but will seek to encourage each other as much as possible, to keep a hold of their faith, and to know the love and comfort of God within and around them, even in the midst of their suffering.
- Pray that the Thai authorities will have mercy on these Christian asylum seekers, and for a faster processing of claims by the UN.
Psalm 32 vs 6: “Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.”