By Michael Ireland, Senior Reporter, ASSIST New Service firstname.lastname@example.org
BANGKOK, THAILAND (ANS, October 9, 2015) — Royal Thai police have arrested 26 Pakistani Christian asylum seekers, including children, from an area called Pracha Songkhro 28 in Bangkok, Thailand.
According to the British Pakistan Christian Association, (BPCA) www.britishpakistanichristians.org, on Wednesday, October 6, the terrified families were arrested very late at night from a condo called Phasuk mansion, taken to Huai Khwang police station and from there will eventually be transferred to the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC).
“Due to an extremely slow processing time none of these sufferingfamilies have ever been assessed for asylum determination by the UNHCR, and in fact many of them have assessment interviews scheduled for up to two years from now, a dismaying and unacceptable delay which has left them extremely vulnerable,” BPCA reported.
The BPCA officer in Thailand, Christian Malik, called Pastor Joshua who was amongst the victims. He described the desperate conditions they are facing inside the IDC: “We have been in the police station since yesterday evening and we have not yet eaten any food. The younger children have been sobbing for milk and we have no provisions, this is an alarming situation. We are all having to cope with the trauma of being locked up, despite not believing we are criminals.”
Pastor Joshua spoke of their hope in God and their undying belief that God will help them. He said: “We continue worshipping and praying, it gives us confidence and enables us to bear witness among the non-believers. We hope to rescue and baptize the lost souls inside the IDC.”
Malik contacted legal aid representatives at Asylum Access, an NGO working in Thailand, to see how they could help. They explained that the system was slow and rigid: “The immigration police undertake sweeps in asylum communities across Bangkok during the first 10 days of every month. There is no mechanism in place to rescue these victims — they simply have to go through the legal process.”
Malik also described the situation faced by arrested victims. He said: “Children have been locked up, along with their parents, and appallingly there is no provision of milk for babies and scarce food provision. It is completely inhumane. Families have been taken from their makeshift homes leaving doors wide open, which inevitably results in the loss of all their savings and belongings. Living in cramped cells is demoralizing, and after even a short time of being packed in with so many other detainees contagious disease is rampant.”
Wilson Chowdhry of BPCA commented: “We are so thankful to God that working with the Jubilee Campaign; Voice of the Persecuted; TrotB Ministries, Farrukh Saif Foundation and Papa Thongchai of Urdu Church in the Hands of God, we all have been able to raise the necessary funds to pay the overstay court fines for 12 of the asylum seekers.”
Chowdhry stated that a few of those detained declined help, deciding instead to take a risk and endure Central Jail with the hopes of somehow raising the necessary funds to bribe Thai police into releasing them, thus avoiding detainment in the IDC and needing to raise funds for bail. “Paying the overstay fine prevents a person going to Central Jail but bail still needs to be paid at a later date to avoid further detention in the IDC,” he said.
Chowdhry added: “The costs of paying the fines would have been a huge burden on any of our charities individually, but by breaking convention and proving charities can work together, we have successfully helped the traumatized victims.”
Lois Kanalos of Voice of the Persecuted said: “Praise God! He achieved the impossible again, leaving no doubt who is behind us.”
BPCA states that paying this fine prevents these families from being moved for 35 days “to the horrific Central Jail where they would be placed in the general prison population amongst rapists and murderers. The men are restrained naked in shackles, their heads shaved, and women are made to remove their underwear and jump up and down to show they have nothing concealed while men ogle. Mothers are separated from their children, and incredulously even from their babies who are then neglected and not provided any milk or nappies (diapers).” BPCA explained that from Central Jail the detainees would again be moved to the deplorable IDC where ‘food’ consists of cucumber in hot water.
Chowdhry concluded: “We know that our supporters will agree that this would be a horrendous fate to befall anyone, and being able to prevent it for these families is exhilarating for us at the BPCA, and we would love to be able to do much more. To free each individual from IDC we need to raise a further £1,000GBP ($1,530USD) for each of them for their bail fees, which will entitle them to a two year protection from re-arrest.”
Main image: Pastor Joshua was among those detained. (BPCA Photo)
Other Image: Children were among those rounded up by Thai police (BPCA Photo).
Bio Image: Michael Ireland
About the Writer: Michael Ireland is a Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, as well as a volunteer Internet Journalist and Ordained Minister who has served with ASSIST Ministries and ASSIST News Service since its beginning in 1989. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China, and Russia. Click http://paper.li/Michael_ASSIST/1410485204 to see a daily digest of Michael’s stories for ANS.
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