Devastating Bangkok blast causes even greater concern for Pak-Christian asylum seekers

20 killed in worst Thailand terrorist attack ever.

A bomb blast in the centre of Bangkok at 12 noon yesterday (17.08.15), Thailand has been described as the “worst-ever attack” in the country by the presiding Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. The explosion killed twenty people, many of whom were foreigners, who were visiting a popular tourist location – Erawan Hindu shrine.  In a separate attack in Bangkok, an explosive device was thrown from a pier but caused no injuries.

Former BPCA deputy Chairman Atiq Chowdhry, Wilson Chowdhry’s brother, had narrowly missed the explosion whilst visiting a Buddhist tourist location located some metres away.  He had also been distributing clothes and toys to re-persecuted Pak-Christians who are currently awaiting resettlement in countries that have adopted UN Conventions on asylum. 

In the aftermath of the blast Pakistani Christians have been feeling despondent and afraid as Thailand authorities have been advised to crackdown on all illegal immigration, which includes all asylum seekers and refugees as Thailand has not ratified any UN Conventions for asylum.  This will affect the large number of Pak-Christians that make up the largest body of asylum seekers in Thailand – estimated by the UN at 4600 – though an independent German humanitarian group has suggested the figure is closer to 8000.  

Christian Malik, our officer in Thailand, described the new threat faced by Pakistani Christians seeking asylum through Thailand, he said;

“This bomb blast has shattered our confidence.  Not only are we afraid of seeping Islamic extremism, and the threat imposed by the Muslim insurgency in the south of Thailand, but now we are being ‘tarred with the same brush’ because to the average Thai person, we look like Muslim extremists too.”  

He added:

“We have already had to face local racism and prejudice as the Thai people locally have become wary of Muslims seeking a separate state, but all we want is to escape the same threats and acts of violence that they seek to save themselves from.  For us the whole process has become simply an opportunity to escape one type of persecution to another, and now we may even be deported back to the very place we were fleeing from.”

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said:

“This terrorist attack has caused great pain to the people of Thailand and fear will no doubt create suspicion towards the masses of asylum seekers and refugees in the country.  I hope the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice, and that this results in renewed peace for those seeking asylum from similar attacks.  I pray for good recovery of all survivors and succour for the families of all victims.”

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