Mother and two young daughters reunite with family after release from IDC Bangkok
26 Feb 2016
London: February 26, 2016. (PCP) Asia Johnson (38 years) was arrested for overstaying her visa on 24th December 2015; she was placed in cuffs and was trundled across to a short term prison before being incarcerated in Bangkok's Immigration Detention Centre along with her two young daughters Reemal Johnson (7 years) and Eashal Johnson (3 years).
At the time of her arrest her husband, Johnson Masih (40 years) and daughter Rumaisa Johnson (6 years) were fortunately away from their house during the raid so escaped the brutal imprisonment. But Rumaisa cried incessantly to be with her mother and her Johnson could no longer carry on his illegal working that barely paid for his daily essentials as he now found himself solely responsible for one unschooled vulnerable child.
British Pakistani Christian Association appealed several times for the release of Asia Johnson. Our attempts began from January when after a complete ban on all bails for asylum seekers from extremist countries such as Sri Lanka, and Pakistan was lifted, it became possible to release vulnerable mothers and children or victims with a serious health condition.
BPCA were thwarted several times by IDC officers who fixed dates for submissions of bail appeals and then postponed these hearings with no specific reason being provided. During the debilitating incarceration Asia and her children developed rashes, vomited frequently and suffered high temperatures. For us it was essential that we released the family as soon as possible.
God made a way and on 25th February 2016 after 63 days in captivity Asia and her two daughters were set free.
Asia was overwhelmed by her release, she said: " I am extremely thankful to all those that donated to the BPCA, I did not think I would ever see freedom. My children are now so thin they feel like they will break when I pick them up and they Many victims have been incarcerated for over 6 months and my heart goes out to my suffering brothers and sisters still detained. I pray that they may be released soon."
Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, and hence does not have a formal national asylum framework; Pakistani Christians are not treated as refugees or asylum seekers but as illegal immigrants. Often, Thailand will not grant asylum status to those declared genuine refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).Thailand are signatories to several other human rights conventions and this maltreatment of Pakistani Christians has been condemned by Lord Alton and several other leading humanitarians, yet the abuses continue.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the BPCA, said: "There are believed to be close to ten thousand Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Thailand. Charities and churches are finding it extremely difficult to support their needs and their illegal status doe not permit them to work, making them vulnerable to exploitation. Time after time we have raised this issue with the UNHCR but find their approach to the concerns woeful due to exhibited insouciance. We have worked with the BBC to raise awareness of the plight of the suffering victims in Thailand and pray that the global community together can exert more significant pressure to achieve change."