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A French reporter residing in Thailand contacted the BPCA after reading the on-line BBC report on Pakistani Christians in Thailand and the brutal crackdown by Royal Thai Authorities. Arnaud Dabus a correspondent focused on South East Asia called on the BPCA to help him share the plight of our long suffering minority amongst the French, Turkish, Thai and Spanish media groups he freelances for.
Wilson Chowdhry had already planned a visit to Thailand to follow-up on our current aid provision and had a date pencilled in to meet UNHCR Senior Protection Officer Peter Trotter, so he joined our intrepid officer Christian Malik in introducing Arnaud to donors, victims and aid groups.
We also described the desperate conditions detainees face in the brutal Thai Immigration Detention Centres. Despite assurances from the Royal Thai Authorities that conditions inside the Centres will improve in a statement provided by the Royal Thai Embassy in London, no visible change to circumstances has manifested as of yet. Quite conversely since last week aid groups are being prevented access meaning that counselling, the ability to escape the monotony of incarceration in a squalid cramped cells.
Sadly the Royal Thai Authorities have not removed the ban on bail for Pakistani Christians despite the fact they are the least likely to be involved in Islamic extremism, and the offer by the BPCA to confirm the veracity of Christian status, through our global network and obtaining local district Pakistani Police Criminal record checks for detainees – an offer of course that could not possibly extend to converts sadly as it is virtually impossible
to prove authentic conversion, due to suspicions within the Pakistani Christian churches for obvious reasons.
During his investigations with us Arnaud visited the school for asylum seekers run by the BPCA and a church that we support. He attended the church service and was amazed at the resourcefulness of the local community who arranged volunteers initially to help the BPCA establish the school.
Thanks to your donations and a generous gift of £3050 from Aid to the Church in Need we now have four full time paid teachers at the school, which helps the diligent teachers with their regular rent. Moreover, this particular community is now receiving a large food parcel every quarter from the BPCA a level of gift we hope to increase with the help of our donors and friends.
Arnaud Dubus spoke to families at our school after receiving a resurrection day card and rose and said;
“I have been touched by your plight and though I am not an aid agency but a reporter, however I will do whatever is in my capacity to help. This is not my last visit and I will maintain a relationship with your community you are in my thoughts and prayers.”
When he visited our school Arnaud kindly donated two laptops and a selection of books and magazines for the children’s educational purposes.
Arnaud heard first hand from victims how they had suffered brutal attacks and threats in Pakistan that forced them to flee. He also heard their tales of survival within IDC where food is scant and malnutrition pervades, where victims are crammed into rooms designed to fit 100 people crammed with over 200 – forcing detainees to sleep standing or across one another, where mothers fear for the health of their children exposed to horrendous illness and where this year alone multiple deaths from illness that could have been treated and prevented have affected detainee morale.
BPCA has freed a recent detainee based on the fact she was a mother with children, we are currently working on releasing another victim. However, there are plenty more that need your help and we ask that those moved by the continuing plight of these victims, offer their assistance in prayers and donations.
We are growing our partnership base where possible and through Voice of the Persecuted we are now sustaining 10 families with rent and food and hope to grow this number as their and our donor base for Thailand increases. Our work is a drop in the ocean and much more is required so please think about these victims and reflect on how you might help especially during this period that we choose to remember Christ’s love for us that led to the brutal
sacrifice of his earthly life that we might inherit the Kingdom of God. Yes we are called to suffer as Christians but those of us more privileged are called to help the oppressed. I am reminded of the words of Christ our Lord:
Luke 12 v 32 – 34
32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Sadly one of the local Catholic donors who is helping Pak-Christians in his own capacity has informed us of how a local Catholic Church has printed a bold Urdu banner that states:
“Any Pakistani Christians found begging on our church premises will be removed and taken to the Royal Thai authorities to be prosecuted.” Francis Dabrera who attends that Catholic church was astounded when the Catholic Priest collared him for helping around 16 asylum seekers that had approached
him in his church. Francis recalled his response which simply “This is my money and I can choose how to spend it thank you.”
I am sure many Christians will have opposing views on the generosity of the church and it’s parishioners, but hearing the stories of the 16 asylum seekers that Mr Dabrera has been helping in his own small capacity was extremely moving. Moreover his willingness to help despite the negative slant placed on asylum seekers by his local priest reminds me of another verse form our God inspired scripture.
“Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”
Sadly in terms of what our Lord thinks of the Priest I am concerned he may not realise the wrongs of his way and what God promises for those who ignore the plight of the suffering:
“Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.”
We don’t often condemn openly in this way but hearing from the Pakistani Christians who simply wanted to attend the church but were so insulted they did not enter and simply felt very let down, was deeply saddening. Pak-Christians in Thailand are already demoralised and depressed and have very low self esteem. They are often pushed from pillar to post when seeking aid and simply want survival but acts such as this shake the foundations of their faith and are an openly bad testimony for the global church. This particular church which I have not named but know implicitly are not alone in such practice and I am afraid our duty as Christians has been some what eroded in the modern materialistic societies that those of us who are favoured live in. I pray for a return of the global church to it’s fundamental principles and specifically that churches in Thailand become beacons of hope. Our Christ was once homeless was it not for the generosity of an innkeeper he would have been born in the open air. Instead he was still born in a lowly manger but that kind generous gift was so precious to us all.
We have had a request for a further asylum seeker school in Thailand and are seeking donations towards this. The initial set up will be in the region of £5000 and ongoing revenue costs are estimated at £3000 per year, which will include a small salary for four teachers that will cover their rent and a small surplus. If you can help and are willing please use the details that can be found in this link (click here)
Wilson and Arnaud with the motherless child of Waqas.
BPCA gave food packages to 41 families
Sunday School children colouring candles for Palm Sunday.
Children working very attentively believing God will release them from this predicament.
A packed Church of 45 parishioners
Wilson hiding at the back 🙂
Worship services were packed.
Children prepared gifts for Arnaud
Children prepared gifts for Wilson Chowdhry
Children prepared gifts for Christian Malik
Children said thank you to all the donors