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Hard-working and exploited Pakistani Christian asylum seekers arrested in Phuket

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Persecution victims Adnan Masih, his wife and two children during happier days.

Yesterday (3rd July 2018) 12 Pakistani asylum seekers were arrested whilst travelling on a Thai Bus to Phuket where all the men were employed and cooks. cleaners and waiters for one of the country's leading tourist restaurants. 8 of the men arrested were Christians and 4 belonged to the equally persecuted Ahmadi faith.

The arrest occurred during the latest clamp-down on asylum seekers by the Thai authorities who outright refuse to sign UN conventions for Asylum leaving Europe and the west to carry the international burden, despite being fully fledged members of the United Nations. 

British Pakistani Christian Association immediately spoke to some of the families and is offering to pay for the court fines required to prevent the men being incarcerated with murderers and rapists in the brutal Central Jail in Phuket, for overstaying their tourist visa. Paying the fines will however not prevent the arrested men from serving a life of imprisonment in the local Immigration Detention Centre (IDC).  Sadly for these victims a stay in the IDC will mean being far away from their families and friends and in an area where no Pakistani Christian NGO's are able to provide visits. 

We spoke to some of the families affected by the recent arrests.  Najma Shahzad (28 yrs) who is married to Shahzad Masih (32 yrs) said:

"My husband went to work far away from my home so he could support my two young children and I. He works endless hours for little pay and our life has become a real mess but we accepted our situation because it was better then the dangers that faced us back in our homeland.

"Now I am broken and I realise this world has little hope left for my family and I, except our faith that God has something planned for us."     

Margaret Sattar (40 yrs) who is married to Sattar Masih (43 yrs) spoke of her grief. 

"Our lives have been totally destroyed both in Pakistan and Thailand.  We have been treated like insects - as something in the way that has to be removed. 

"I don't know when I will ever see my husband again and now the responsibility to bring up my three children lies with me alone.  This is heart-breaking and I have not stopped crying since I heard the news of my husbands arrest. 

"This world is unfair and Pakistani Christians are the most despised of all people yet we have harmed no-one."

This incident has become very personal too, as we discovered that one of the victims was the husband of Sumaira Adnan (29 yrs) one of the teachers working for the BPCA at an underground school for asylum seekers. Adnan Masih (32 yrs) has also been a regular volunteer for the BPCA and his arrest  may impair the school operation that the couple are involved with. Adnan and Sumaira have two young boys who Sumair now will have to support alone which as you can imagine is a devastating blow. 

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:

"Thailand continues to brutalize the lives of already persecuted Christian asylum seekers in their midst. 

"From every account it seems that the Christian asylum community from Pakistan is hardworking and despite their exploitation, they have contributed to the economy and growth of the nation through illegal employment within the tourism industry - which is responsible for much of the gross domestic product for the nation.

"We will continue our work supporting the lives of these victims especially the lost generation of children who have only known that they are despised and hated for their adherence to the Christian faith, for the entirety of their short lives. 

"The  lack of decent education  for these children and limited social growth as they skirt the periphery of society avoiding conflict and recognition due to their illegal and somewhat pariah status, leaves their future looking increasingly bleak and ensures that they continue the curse of ignominy that has consumed one of the most hated cultures in the world."

British Pakistani Christian Association has set up a fund to help these families that will buy clothes for the children, help the mothers with rent payments and will pay the court fines of 5000 baht for each arrested individual. If you would like to help support these families please (click here)

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