Embarrassed Thailand punish humanitarian agencies supporting asylum seekers after revealing BBC documentary

Some of the local Pak-Christian volunteers who have work visa’s and visit local victims at the IDC.

In February 2016 the BBC released a one hour documentary on the brutal treatment of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand. The repercussions of this are only starting to be made manifest. In particular family members are being disqualified and humanitarian agencies are no longer allowed to visit detainees in the now infamously brutal Immigration Detention Centres (IDC) across Thailand.

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You can watch the BBC documentary anywhere in the world by clicking (here)

The suffering detainees are forced to live in squalid cramped conditions where they have to sleep laying across one another in a crouching position or even worse standing up, due to lack of any space. They cling to the hope of a visit from someone from the vast array of charities that visit people in the IDCs. The visits are currently the only respite from the monotony of their life in the cells. Moreover, a kindly visitor with a caring face has been described as the highlight of their week and a real morale booster. Now, in a shameless act of retaliation for the revealing of their inhuman treatment of already persecuted Christians, the IDCs have clamped down on visiting rights. Unless you are a member of a Thai Church and the church is willing to support you in the way of a letter of authority, no visitor is allowed to enter the IDC. The proposal seeks to enable the Thai authorities to trace back to a particular group the entry of any further reporters.  Churches have been warned that any individuals involved in misconduct i.e. allowing entry of reporters – will result in the immediate investigation of the responsible church.  Moreover the church will be suspended and more than likely banned from continuing their practice after being struck form the charity register.

On Tuesday 22nd March 2016 Wilson Chowdhry and over 20 other humanitarians were prevented access to the IDC, many of them from charities who had also brought food for the malnourished detainees.

The purpose of this cynical action seems to be prevention of any further media coverage on the human rights abuses taking place at the IDC, including the detention of new and expecting mothers, detention of frail elderly victims with those disabled and victims with a severe health condition requiring regular medical attention. Already this year two detainees with treatable and curable illnesses have died in the IDC despite describing their conditions to arresting officers. Moreover no treatment was provided despite several requests – each time a trip to the hospital became a failed last gasp attempt to save the life of the victims. Similar numbers have been rejected daily since the inception of the new ruling last week, causing distress to detainees and charity workers alike.

In a meeting with Wilson Chowdhry at the Thai Embassy in London on 9th March 2016, Thai official Phuchphop Mongkalvin provided a prescribed response from the Royal Thai Government that assured recipients that the Thai authorities were to make improvements to the existing IDC facilities. However, since the meeting, the only change brought forward is the more stringent and unnecessary block to well wishing humanitarians who wanted to provide a small gift of conversation and an opportunity for victims to stretch their cramped, sore muscles. Wilson Chowdhry explained his view on this recent decision by the Royal Thai Government, he said:

“During my attempted visit to see a family member and other Pakistani Christians at the IDC, I was thwarted by a very pushy officer. I was informed that, despite having a familial connection to a Pakistani Christian detainee, I would not be permitted entry to the IDC. International law guarantees detained asylum seekers access to open air spaces; visits by family members, lawyers and representatives of non-governmental and international organisations, access to information, as well as respect for privacy. Yet every one of these provisions is being denied in Thailand. The health and morale of detainees in Thailand has reached a nadir with some inmates seriously considering suicide. The fear of being deported to Pakistan is increasing tension amongst asylum seekers in Thailand, both those detained and those in hiding. I am extremely frightened that failures by the west to intervene on behalf of these victims may result in extremely severe consequences.”

He added:

“Celebrations for Resurrection day for many of these victims will be tainted this year.  Many of these poor detainees have been stranded in the cells since September and have not seen their family members for a very long time.  Now they will not even have access to visitors who might want to share a few minutes of conversation to lift their spirits.  Relatives from the UK and other international cities have been visiting family members in the IDC and this latest treachery by the Royal Thai Government has called them to challenge people abroad not to travel to Bangkok which is a popular holiday destination, until the nation improves human rights conditions for those seeking asylum.”

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British Pakistani Christian Association have emailed concerns about this new visitors practice to the Royal Thai Embassy in the UK and will report
back on any response received.  

We have also set-up an ongoing fund to help with the needs of the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand.  Our work includes helping with
the cots of work visa’s and study visa’s so the asylum seekers can maintain legal stay in the country, providing food supplies to victims in the IDC,
Providing rent and food provisions to seven  regularly maintained families  via our partner Voice of the Persecuted, trauma counselling via
our partner TROTB Ministries and maintaining a school for asylum seekers thanks to donations from Aid to the Church in Need and our personal donors.
 If you would like to help us continue this work you can find options to pay donations by clicking this link (click here)


These Pakistani Christian volunteers at the IDC are also helping victims.

This image shows four of the charitable volunteers refused entry due to non-affiliation to a Thai Church.  
Many more were refused to our chagrin.

More of the volunteer Pakistani Christians with live Visa’s committed to helping their community