Over the last 14 days BPCA Chairman has been working to improve the lives of innocent Pak-Christian Asylum seekers in Thailand and Malaysia. During arduous
long shifts Mr Chowdhry visited a total of 8 churches, met with a total of 16 Pastors and over 400 hundred asylum seekers. His purpose was to elucidate
what asylum seekers wanted most in both countries and to plead concessions from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the respective
Pakistani Embassies and to start dialogue with the Malaysian and Royal Thai governments.
Taking a team of 4 volunteers from Australia, Mr Chowdhry also set out to meet Pakistani Christians armed with survey questions seeking their thoughts
on a good place for Christians to receive sanctuary. The BPCA hopes to compile and submit a report on this to western nations. More details of this
will be released on Monday.
However more Immediate concerns for asylum seekers in Bangkok included:
Lack of support from their Pakistani Embassies despite not having revoked their nationality and their continuing desire to return to Pakistan when
the nation was safer for Christians.
Lack of medical care for their sick or any other welfare provision by the Royal Thai and Malaysian Governments.
Inability for them to work legally which left them prone to exploitation or scratching out an existence through charitable handouts.
Threat of arrest and detainment and the recent cancellation of bail for visa overstayers in brutal Immigration Detention Centres [unless detainees
have existing serious health concern or are women with children inside IDC]
A few of the asylum seekers had become so depressed with their re-persecuted status, especially those with family members in the IDC, that they sought
repatriation and assistance with the costs of travel home.
Wilson Chowdhry, set out to help through dialogue with the Pakistani Embassy. Pakistani Christian asylum seekers as are entitled to diplomatic assistance
until they relinquish citizenship. On entering the Pakistani Embassy in Bangkok Mr Chowdhry found that our reputation had proceeded us. He and Christian
Malik were immediately met by the Third Secretary Kamran Dhangal where they were invited to his private office for dialogue.
Mr Chowdhry presented Mr Dhangal with a copy of the BPCA's latest publication titled: "Education, Human Rights Violations and the scandal involving UNHCR
and the Christian Asylum Seekers in Pakistan." This is the second version of a previous report, and has been updated until July 16th 2016. The
publication is written by Desmond Fernandes a genocide expert and can now be bought on our website (click here).
Mr Dhangal seemed fascinated by the report and agreed to read it and provide a response to the BPCA.
Mr Chowdhry then sought assistance with the repatriation of those for whom the intentional re-persecution in Thailand had became overwhelming. Mr
Dhangal explained that repatriation could be organised and suggested that our officer Christian Malik become a conduit for victims wishing to return home.
He agreed to meet with families accompanied by Raymond at the Pakistani Embassy in safety and security and to go through the application process with minimum
fuss. He has provided Raymond with the necessary application forms that can be completed before an appointment is set to ensure confidence in the process
and expedience. Mr Dhangal however stated that only in very extreme circumstances could the Pakistani Embassy pay for the costs of flights.
Mr Chowdhry asked if the Royal Thai Government (RTG) might help with the costs of travel home and has been provided with the email of a RTG official. Apparently
an offer was made by the RTG to pay for flights previously but never instigated. BPCA have already sent an email to the official regarding a family that
are already interested in returning home. Our request will seek the cost of the flights and any possible re-establishment grant to help the asylum
seekers re-start their lives in Pakistan. If successful we will help other families in similar circumstances.
Mr Dhangal informed us that for families with members inside Thailand's brutal Immigration Detention Centres (IDC) the protocol for repatriation is extremely
Mr Chowdhry then sought assistance for Pakistani Christian Asylum seekers with need of immediate medical attention. Mr Dhangal explained that a budget
exists to provide assistance in cases where both the actual health condition and invoice costs can be proven. This may require a visit to victims
in hospital to ascertain their poor health and provide counselling. Our Thailand BPCA officers have been provided with the email and direct telephone number
to Mr Dhangal with whom they are able to register claims on behalf of asylum seekers.
An offer was made to repatriate dead bodies expediently and to pay any costs for the return of the bodies for burial in Pakistan. However, the flight costs
would be provided in cases of severe financial inability and could delay transfer. It was agreed that BPCA Officer Christian Malik could coordinate the
facility with the Pakistan Embassy, to make it easy for asylum seekers under the stress of such circumstances.
To be totally honest the Pakistani Embassy seemed extremely eager to work with the BPCA and restore some of the confidence that Pakistani Christian Asylum
Seekers have in their services. There was no denial that persecution exists in Pakistan simply a desire to help Pakistani citizens in Thailand, during
extremely troubling times.
Several Pakistani Christians had complained about their inability to renew passports at the Pakistani Embassy. This had led to delays in flights
book to take those who had gained resettlement in the west. Moreover it was preventing asylum seekers from opening up bank accounts in Thailand,
placing them at greater risk of burglary and robberies. Mr Dhangal introduced Wilson and Christian to the head of the passport renewal service who advised
them about an electronic passport application process that was to be launched internationally in the next month. Advantages of this system will be
that asylum seekers can apply in the safety of their own home. Moreover applicants can have passports delivered to their homes in Thailand, for an
A link to the new on-line Pakistani passport renewal web can be found by (clicking here)[try in a month to two months].
A sneak preview of forthcoming poster detailing on-line application process!
Alternatively if any Pak-Christian asylum seekers in Thailand wish to receive their Passport at the Pakistan Embassy in Bangkok due to urgency or preference, our officer Christian Malik can provide advice and assistance which is free of charge. He can be contacted by (clicking here).
To obtain the passport BPCA have been informed that initially Pak-Christian Asylum Seekers must have a copy of a current National Identity Card. Which can be applied for on-line by (clicking here)
After obtaining this committment for help for Pakistani Christians, Wilson and Christian travelled to the UNHCR to meet with Peter Trotter a Senior Protection
Officer at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP), offices of the UNHCR. Unfortunately Peter had an hospital appointment, however,
his PA collected a copy of our latest report and a file containing three particularly concerning asylum applications, from victims who have been in Thailand
for 2.5 years but are yet to attend their initial interview.
Peter Trotter's PA was uncomfortable with photos. So this is the best you got... a picture of Wilson Chowdhry and Christian Malik.
Peter Trotter has acknowledged receipt of all the material. However he has not been too specific on whether the claims will be expedited due to the
high risk of all three individuals. He wrote:
"Cases that have unique, demonstrated specific needs in the country of asylum (above "baseline" risks applicable to all) may be expedited. Currently, some 40% of all our cases from 50 +/- nationalities are "prioritized", including but not limited to cases of persons originating from Pakistan. This is, of course, a moving target and a case that has no immediate exigencies could have tomorrow, and vice-versa and the Protection Unit is always keeping an eye on such issues."
We have responded further and in addition have created the petition below to help expedite the cases for these three individuals. Please sign and share
our petition (click here). We will keep you informed of progress.
In Malaysia the Pakistani Embassy offered the same facilitation to Mr Chowdhry and his representative Amber Amber. However, the one difference was
that they offered a much quicker repatriation process and rapid flight arrangement for any corpse. Mr Chowdhry met the Deputy High Commissioner
who confirmed that that the passport renewal process at the High Commission was extremely slick. Over 153,000 Passports have already been issued
and the electronic system when operational will quicken the process further. We were then met by Dr Altamash Janjua the Second Secretary and Community
Welfare Attache. Mr Janjua has provided us with his personal contact details and we are able now to communicate with him on behalf of Pakistani Christians
needing any of the services offered. Mr Janjua was extremely open about existing persecution in Pakistan, which made for a very refreshing conversation.
His desire to help all Pakistanis was evident in his demeanour and candour and the BPCA are looking forward to working with him.
Wilson Chowdhry and Mr Janjua Third Secretary and Community Welfare Attache for Pak-Embassy in Malaysia
At Malaysian UNHCR we met with Senior Protection Officer Muhammed Aziz who received our report and confirmed it would be sent to the correct Senior
Protection Officer. We are awaiting a confirmation email and then seek to speak with the Community Welfare officer at the UNHCR to add other
Pastors to the current community meetings.
In Thailand and Malaysia we have travelled to several western Embassies and have obtained email addresses in our desire to share an electronic copy
of our latest report with them. We hope that the report will help these nations to adopt a more friendly and appropriate approach to Pakistani
Christian asylum seekers and that it will result in a heightened risk profile enabling refugee status.
Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
"The number of Pakistani Christians fleeing their homeland continues to rise and yet their persecution is still overlooked by western nations. The crux of the problem that the situation has erupted through years of poor governance rather then through state-sponsored violence. However, the climate for Christians has now reached a nadir, they are seen as pariah's and outcasts in a nation that seems to be immersed in a cultural genocide against minorities - particularly Christians. There are definite attempts to bring change to society in Pakistan by the current Government, more so than any previous one. However the deep set malaise will take decades to produce a fairer society"
He added: "Many Christians have to drink from separate water sources to Muslims for fear of contamination by the ritually impure. 15% of blasphemy allegations are laid against Christian's despite them making up only 1.6% of the population. In 2014 a Muslim NGO estimated 700 Christian girls are abducted, raped and forced into Islamic marriage. Christians have been targetted in four major bomb attacks in only 3 years and several Christian villages have been razed to the ground, in the last two decades including; Shanti Nagar, Gojra and St Joseph's Colony. Sadly when Pakistani Christians choose to flee such persecution in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and Sri Lanka they are re-persecuted. They can't get into the west directly due to a weak passport and complicated visa entry, they are not welcome in Muslim, Bhuddist or Hindu countries. It is time countries in the west start to discuss a growing problem - where is there a sanctuary for Christians?" BPCA are providing free education and financial assistance to asylum seekers in Thailand. We have also sent 20 computers to Malaysia to help equip four Asylum seekers schools and hope in the near future to open our own school. If you would like to support our help for asylum seekers in these two nations please (click here) Please sign and share our petition to save three deserving asylum seekers (click here) Please watch BBC Documentary on Pak-Christians in Thailand (click here) Please also read about our peace vigils in Thailand (click here)