Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Bangkok rounded up by police during Christmas season


Bangkok: (PCP) While people around the world begin preparations for Christmas and the holidays, parties and family gatherings that ensue around 30 Pak-Christian asylum seekers and refugees begin a morale-sapping detention in a Thai cell before moving into a long-term detainment in the substandard Immigration detention centres (IDC) in Bangkok.

Worse still family members and friends may have to suffer long term, distant separation from one another as refurbishment at the main Bangkok IDC has already scattered the Pak-Christian community across the nation of Thailand.

This morning at 6am (19th December 2019) immigration officers accompanied by police and the army raided condos at Siriroongruang Soi 38, with intention to arrest the large Pak-Christian asylum seeker/refugee community residing there.

28 people were arrested which includes 9 men, 11 women 6 children under the age of 10 and 2 teenagers. Already our BPCA officer has met and spoken with those arersted and efforts are being made to help with the necessary court fines to keep these vulnerable victims from incarceration in the brutal Central Jails in Bangkok by paying the necessary overstay fines they will be required to pay in court within the next four days and we are seeking information of the date of the court hearing and location. We estimate fines of 4000 baht for each victim. These fines will need to be paid irrespective of any UNHCR held asylum or refugee status as Thailand is not signatory to UN Conventions for asylum.

After paying for court fines the families will be detained in the brutal IDC's throughout the country as repairs are still ongoing on the Bangkok IDC This will leave families separated by some distance in some cases and away from friends and other support as Bangkok. This lack of access will no doubt create a significant amount of stress and anxiety and we will be praying for individuals and ask for others to unite in prayer for them too.

Our lead officer in Thailand, John, said: "The timing of these arrests could not be worse.

"Our community is feeling distraught and extremely sorrowful for our suffering brothers and sisters.

"We were all beginning Christmas celebrations but for many now their joy will be dulled as they await upon their future with only the thinnest strand of hope."

Juliet Chowdhry, said: "This will be a devastating Christmas for all those arrested and we will do all we can to make Christmas feel special for these and other detainees.

"Our primary concern is to cover the overstay fines those arrested will have to pay in order to prevent them from incarceration in a brutal Thai Jail with murderers and rapists - this will adversely affect the children in particular.

"Our staff in Thailand are producing Christmas cards made by asylum seeker children and will distribute them to as many IDC's as financially possible with some Biryani rice near to Christmas.

"Biriyani is a traditional Christmas meal for pak-Christians and when I think of the plain boiled rice they will eat on other days.

"I hope this will remind them that one day this world will end and more pleasant things are awaiting us in heaven."


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