Heroic men have been rescuing thousands of Christians who are enslaved to Muslims in Pakistan. Our organization, Rescue Christians, have been the funders of all of these rescue missions. But all of our successful missions have been thanks to you, the reader.
Thousands of Christians are living as literal slaves in Pakistan, and we have been at the forefront of setting them free. Our team in Pakistan has been conducting meetings under the cover of night, guiding the slaves out of the work camp (which are usually brick kilns) and into liberation. But we cannot stress this enough: all of our efforts would not be done if it was not for your generosity towards this just and noble cause.
We have also done a documentary detailing the horrific current persecution of Christians, and a number of the Christians that our organization has rescued:
In 2009, after a case of false Blasphemy was referred to us from Pakistan we inquired with many organizations that touted themselves as helping the persecuted Christians. After extensive research we discovered to our disappointment that none of these organizations had any interest in actually saving people from their fate. We decided that despite our lack of expertise at that time, it was our duty as Christians and Jews under the command of the Lord to undertake our best efforts to try and save as many Christian (and Jews if necessary) people as possible both from slavery and persecution.
In 6 years we have saved or helped over 12,000 people. In the last three years we have saved over 10,000 slaves which includes providing them new jobs and new places to live, literally changing their lives from persecution and abject poverty to people with a living wage and children who can now go to school.
We have done this with a tiny budget compared to other charities. Our tiny charity has helped more slaves in three years than the combined efforts of other “slave freeing” charities have done in the last 15 years.
We employ brave people who risk their own lives to save their brethren and with the financial resources our readers and supporters provide that allows us to do this holy work. On many occasions we have serious security issues to deal with but thanks to G-d all our staff so far have avoided death or serious injury.
After these slaves are rescued, we put them through an employment program to help get them work; we also provide them housing.
Even if you are not wealthy you can help. For $87 you can save one slave and pay this over 12 months that is only $7.25 a month. To save one family costs about $500 that is only $40 per month. To save 10 families a year is about $5000, which is $400 a month.
Khurram and Fauzia, Christian Victim of Rape
RescueChristians.org is a non-profit organization (501c3 EIN# 75 321 4184) formed to do what the other “Rescue Missions” will not do: Get our hands dirty and risk our lives actually going in and rescuing persecuted Christians.
To donate: http://rescuechristians.org/purchased…
Keywords associated with our project: Rescue Christians, Rescue Persecuted Christians, Free the Christian Slaves, Persecuted Christians, Christian Persecution, Redeem Christians from Slavery
Freedom from Slavery Week 9, 10 Families Rescued
RescueChristians.org is a non-profit organization (501c3 EIN# 75 321 4184) formed to do what the other “Rescue Missions” will not do: Get our hands dirty and risk our lives actually going in and rescuing persecuted Christians.
To donate: http://rescuechristians.org/purchased…
Keywords associated with our project: Rescue Christians, Rescue Persecuted Christians, Free the Christian Slaves, Persecuted Christians, Christian Persecution, Redeem Christians from Slavery
Pakistan is the third largest Islamic state in the world, where 95% of the population is Muslim and the remaining 5% are Christians, Hindus, and members of other religions.
Religious minorities are facing extreme persecution today. Within the system of the Blasphemy Laws, rape, abduction, violence, forced conversion and slavery have become the tools of persecution against these minorities.
According to Pakistan’s Blasphemy Laws, anyone who is convicted of speaking ill of Islam or the prophet Muhammed faces the death penalty. The law is very vaguely worded, used arbitrarily, and it destroys any neutrality the state might have in resolution of conflict. To make matters worse, empowered by these laws, mobs form and violently torch and destroy Christian homes and churches purely based on accusations.
In addition, the laws are often misused by Islamist militants to justify sectarian or even personal attacks on others. The government completely fails to provide security, protection and justice to the vulnerable Christians and other minorities of Pakistan.
Rescue Christians was created to help Christians enduring such persecution. When we investigated and found that no one else was stepping up to the plate to do this necessary work, we took the lives of our brothers seriously and began helping them out of these terrible situations. We have helped thousands of people thus far.
In addition, there are more than 20,000 families living in slavery in Pakistan, even in this modern era. The victims are primarily, of course, the religious minorities of Christians and Hindus. They often work outside in extreme heat or cold, are paid less than the lawful minimum wage, endure subhuman treatment, and are exploited physically and sexually. Even children work all day making bricks by hand, as their families cannot afford to send them to school. The kiln owners make false reports of how many bricks are completed by the workers in a day in order to pay them less. They take advantage of the Christian workers’ poverty by giving them advance payments which then become “loans” whose sums are multiplied arbitrarily by the kiln owners. Any attempts to rebel against the system are often met with persecution or even murder of the victim and his family.
Our campaign “Freedom from Slavery” has liberated thousands of slaves who were oppressed by cruel kiln owners. By paying their “loans”, we redeem these captives, ending their slavery.
How is Rescue Christians different from other organizations?
Our mission is simple–we follow the Biblical commandment to provide real support to the hungry and imprisoned. We live up to our name – we actually rescue Christians. RC workers have risked their own lives and those of their families to liberate Christians from brickmaking slavery. We take men, women, and children with their few belongings away from the kiln forever, singing praises to G-d. Not only does RC rescue them from their acute distress, but we help them rebuild their lives, starting them off with homes and proper jobs with humane conditions.
Our ability to provide for these Pakistani Christians is thanks to you. Thank you for your contributions that enable us to do our work. Please continue to partner with us in rescuing Christians from persecution!
Complaint against the discrimination by UNHCR-Bangkok against Pakistani Christian asylum seekers
Complainee: UNHCR Bangkok
Plaintiffs: Farrukh Harrison Saif from “Farrukh Saif Foundation”, Keith Davies from “Rescue Christians”, Graham Ford from “Partners with the persecuted”, Claudio Lobos Villanueva from “COMRADE” and Nazir S. Bhatti from “Pakistan Christian Congress”
Persecution is the worst reason people have to leave their homeland for. It is not only a reason but it’s the driving force which causes many vulnerable lives to end up in the extremely undesirable situations that one can only imagine. Thailand, which is a vacationing haven for many expats, is also home to the four thousand Pakistani Christians residing in the outskirts of Bangkok illegally, their differences are many, their reasons of arrival are different to the far ends and their lifestyles are miscellaneous but what is that common thing that lies beneath their hard coverings? A scared heart in a foreign land. But of course their fears are also very different from each other. Most refugees arrive in Bangkok with a passport and tourist visa. This means on initial entry they are legally in the country. Once their tourist visas expire they are considered illegal migrants under Thai law, which doesn’t allow for urban refugees.
The frustration of leaving discrimination behind and finding it again in the new place can take many lives. It leaves us helpless when the authorities themselves are corrupt and biased. The irregularities in UNHCR Thailand’s system are countless and it contradicts its own set rules and laws on many occasions.
Thailand has not ratified to the Refugee Convention. Refugees seeking asylum in Thailand from other countries have to live in hiding and find work illegally to secure survival after their visas are expired. They are the constant threat of deportation to a country they have fled from for fear of persecution. While policies dealing with labor migration have introduced some flexibility and made some attempt to respond to the situation on the ground, refugee policies appear to have no flexibility and are enacted with little humanitarian protection.
Over the last one-and-one-half years, we have been working to aid Pakistani asylum seekers in Bangkok, Thailand. We have observed and noticed many things that clearly show that there is discrimination by UNHCR officials in Thailand.
Pakistani Christians who fled from their homeland in pursuit of equal human rights, life security, peace of mind and freedom to practice their religious beliefs, have become a highly vulnerable community in Thailand.
Now, different types of challenges and threats are being imposed on Pakistani Christian asylum seekers living in Thailand, due to the failure of the UNHCR to provide them the basic needs of life.
UNHCR in Bangkok has a very weak, vague and ambiguous stance regarding the destiny and future of this persecuted community. Their discriminatory behavior towards this community can be seen in the light of the points mentioned below:
- UNHCR’s failure to protection
The Global Commission on International migration endorses the principle that entering a country in violation to its immigration laws does not deprive migrants of their fundamental human rights, nor does it affect the obligation of states to protect migrants in irregular situations. Kingdom of Thailand however fails to keep with these laws and refugees are deprived off the basic human rights such as education, protection and shelter. UNHCR Thailand is doing little to preserve the rights of these vulnerable refugees. On arrests, refugees and asylum seekers are obliged to pay a fine of 4000 THB under the Thai law for overstay, no representatives from UNHCR show up at the courts to contribute or pay the fine. Failure to pay the fine results in the victims being sent to Thai prisons containing dangerous criminals, stay in prisons is for short time but it is extremely inhumane. Detainees reported being stripped off for checking and sexual abuse with young girls and women who do not want to be named. They were shackled and kept in degrading manner.
- Patterns of arrests
Arrests of refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand can happen at any time of the day or night. Asylum seekers constantly live with the risk of arrest from homes, workplaces, having leisure time and their places of worship. Sometimes the Thai police free the victims for some bribe but mostly they are sent to the Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok. UNHCR Thailand fails to protect any children or women who could be subjected to abuse after arrests.
- Conditions in the detention centre
The immigration detention centre in Bangkok is known for overcrowded cells and little medical facilities. Refugees and migrants from bordering countries and far off are held together in crowded cells where generally no drinking water is available and they are forced to drink from the toilet taps. Lack of adequate toilets and no privacy while using the facilities should raise concerns for the women and children who undergo mental torture seeing the sexual abuse.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has adopted Deliberation No. 5 concerning the situation of asylum seekers and refugees. This sets out principles concerning people held in custody and a number of safeguards governing detention. These include the right of detainees to be told the reasons for their detention, an opportunity to communicate with the outside world, to have legal counsel and contact with consular authorities and to be promptly brought before a judicial or other similar authority. It also recommends a maximum period of detention set by the law and that custody may “in no case” be prolonged or indefinite.
It is however not applied in terms of Thailand refugees and negligible efforts from UNHCR are accounted to make changes or to advocate against the violation of human rights by Thai authorities. Administrative detention used arbitrarily is a tool used by the authorities with little or no concern for the impact such a decision has on the individual’s well being or human rights. The inconsistent, standard and operational procedures used at the local and national levels results in an incoherent enforcement system. The differences in treatment can be dramatic, and result in detainees being subject to unsanitary and degrading conditions. Little or no consideration is given to the welfare of the individuals subject to detention. UNHCR’s system fails to notify these people of their rights, inform them of the duration of their detention or provide any resource for redress if there are problems. In the end, all considerations of convenience are based on the detaining authorities and not on those subject to detention.
- No rights to legal representatives:
UNHCR-Bangkok does not permit asylum-seekers to have legal representation in refugee status determination which is a violation of UNHCR’s procedural standards. UNHCR’s procedural standards for refugee status determination under UNHCR’s mandate state claim that, “the legal representative will have the opportunity to make brief submissions at the end of RSD interview and should promote complete and reliable disclosure of the applicant’s claim.” Legal representatives are not even given the right to sit during RSD interviews which leaves them completely unaware of what happens inside. Under UNHCR’s procedural standards 4.3.3 “Applicants may be accompanied by a legal representative during the RSD interview. The applicants should provide a written consent to the participation of the legal representative”.
Survivors of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) undergoing trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) are not treated with sensitivity and are questioned harshly with the seeming objectives to find flaws. Absence of lawyers during these interviews often leaves the victims in depression and worsening of their mental conditions. Victims complained of “interrogation” style of questioning and at times being stopped and blatantly told their claim to be untrue without any supporting evidence and research, which left many bursting into tears. UNHCR Thailand should be accountable to the emotional and psychological damage it has caused during intense interviews.
Victims report such behavior is provoked because of the pressure UNHCR has to go through due to the number of Urban Refugees which is made mostly of Pakistani Christians. They sense an air of discrimination against them and being judged for faking persecution. Cases are often rejected due to failure of the victims in expressing their fears.
- High rejection rate
UNHCR-Bangkok does not consider this Christian community living in Pakistan to be high risk. This is a complete contradiction of factual data and reports produced by leading human rights organizations.
- Reasons for rejection
Moreover, the reasons given for rejection are not strong and justified. The behavior of UNHCR staff with Pakistani Christian asylum seekers is very rude, ignoring life- threatening situations and the need for medical attention. There is another reason for the rejection of cases, which is the role of the Muslim interpreter during the interviews. The asylum seekers are reluctant to open up in front of a Muslim interpreter, as they have faced persecution from Muslims in Pakistan. There are many situations which prove that Muslim interpreters deliberately changed the course of the case during the interview. The reasons for rejection of most claims follow the same pattern as “being vague” or “Failing to comprehend correctly”. The reasons given by UNHCR outline the lack of details accounted by applicants and are accused of making up stories.
Other mentioned reasons in rejection letters include the inconsistency or unclear facts which the applicants were never asked to make clear during their RSD interviews. This is again a violation of the UNHCR’s procedural standards that require all Eligibility Officers under 4.3.2 to “Make a list of any missing information that the applicant should be asked to provide at the RSD interview, as well as unclear or inconsistent facts or statements that the Applicant should be asked to explain.” The found inconsistencies are instead mentioned only in the rejection letters even though the EO is evidently aware of them way before the interviews. Applicants are mercilessly deprived of their right to make any doubts clear during the interview, which ends them up having a negative decision.
- Psychological impact of rejections
While rejecting a case for an eligibility officer can be as easy as killing a mosquito, it is extremely difficult for asylum seekers to comprehend. After waiting for almost two to three years they are rejected for reckless reasons. Life of an asylum seeker is not easy and being an asylum seeker in Thailand is certainly more challenging. They wait for their interviews for almost three years with the fear of arrests and indefinite detention, no work, no access to proper medical facilities and education. People strive to live each day only for the hope they hold with UNHCR, once their only hope is taken away from them and justice is denied, their hopes get shattered leaving adverse effects on their mental health.
Severe depression disorders and high blood pressure due to stress are common among the Pakistani asylum seekers. Stress, anxiety and depression for survival have even taken lives. Those few names that died recently are:
Dawood Siddique, a 52 year old Pakistani Christian male who died of a heart attack in 2014 while travelling on the bus. He left his family behind awaiting an interview scheduled for years later; his son was recently arrested and is suffering indefinite detention in the IDC Bangkok.
Jarvas Jerry, a Pakistani Christian male, died in early 2015 due to ignorance from UNHCR. His wife repeatedly went to the UNHCR office in Bangkok, but was rejected to be given the money for treatment, as it was considered “not serious enough.”
Faris Ayub, a Pakistani Christian male died in 2015, due to a heart attack. He was only in 40s but the stress was enough to take his life. He has left behind three children who hope for justice from UNHCR Thailand.
UNHCR Bangkok’s accountability should be rechecked. Mercilessly leaving people in exile has claimed many lives till now, if not the stress, ignorance from UNHCR kills asylum seekers. UNHCR and all who are ignoring this suffering have blood of innocent lives on their hands.
- Influence of Pakistan’s secret services, ISI in UNHCR
After successfully reducing the flow of Christian asylum seekers in Sri Lanka, the next target of Pakistani government was Thailand. In 2014, Pakistani government pressured government of Sri Lanka to deport Pakistani Christians and Ahmedi asylum seekers registered with UNHCR Colombo and to pose visa restrictions for Pakistani visitors who enjoyed entry on arrival for decades. As Pakistani government has provided logistic support to Sri Lankan army to crush Tamil Tiger insurgency, in return it became successful to convince the Sri Lankan government to activate visa restrictions for Pakistani individuals to stop flow of Pakistani Asylum seekers.
Pakistani Government and secret services used Pakistani Christian politicians to forward the message to UNHCR that there is no persecution in Pakistan and these people are the economic migrants.
When Sri Lankan government imposed visa requirements for Pakistani citizens, sensing the threat Mr. Farrukh Saif commissioned his center in Bangkok where thousands of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers were facing dire situation. Rescue Christians’ International director started Working in Bangkok for the Asylum seekers in 2013. Mr. Farrukh Saif emerged as a leading entity to support blasphemy victims to settle in South and South Eastern Asian countries with establishment of safe houses and provision of daily needs. . During the mass arrests of 2014-2015, Mr. Farrukh Saif was the only Person standing for the Pakistani community no matter Christians or Ahmedis. They were the first Organization to bailout around 64 people from the Immigration detention Center Bangkok by spending millions of Thai Bahts.
When Pakistani Secret services were meeting with the Pakistani Community in Immigration detention center they were forcing them to withdraw their cases. Farrukh Harrison Saif however, guided people to remain in Bangkok as its much safer than Pakistan. The Christian agents of Pakistani Embassy in Bangkok, IB and ISI agents directly threatened Mr. Farrukh Saif to pack up his operation to support Pakistani Asylum Seekers or they will create immense problems for him in month of May, 2015. The evidence can be provided to support claim.
- The endless and meaningless process of appeal
In most cases of rejection, asylum seekers have the right to file an appeal, which means longer time without protection, income resources and education of children. Appeals can take up to a year before any update is given by UNHCR and it becomes all the more difficult for asylum seekers to survive without secure source of income, a legal status and an adequate life. UNHCR becomes reluctant to providing immediate help or even answering phone calls of the rejected applicants even though they have a chance to appeal under UNHCR’s procedures.
At the time there is only one organization working to provide legal representation to the Urban Refugee population in Bangkok. Asylum Access Thailand (AAT) strives to provide as much help as possible within a limited budget and staff. Only two full-time lawyers are working with a handful of volunteers who try to assist the maximum number of people. Almost eight thousand refugees are registered with this organization but they only give legal representation to those who are most vulnerable. Lawyers claim that most rejections are caused because legal representation is not permitted and their clients get afraid during an interview which makes it hard for officers to understand. Due to the maximum workload lawyers can only help asylum seekers in filing appeals. Success of appeals confirms the lack of desire among eligibility officers to understand the story of an uneducated client. Illiteracy is one of the biggest reasons why asylum seekers fail to express their persecution and fears; UNHCR Thailand violates their right to legal representation and moreover rejects them with little concern of their well-being.
The same cases win on appeals because lawyers are able to explain the inconsistencies after or any misunderstood facts when they write appeals in educated ways, with chronological order and outlining their existing persecution. The only evident reason for rejections in these cases is the lack of consideration, compassion and concern for a life among the Eligibility Officers. It seems as if they don’t want to understand and are rejecting numbers in heaps to put them aside and make place for new applicants. No efforts are made to reach a decision promptly and fairly on UNHCR’s part.
- Irregularities and inconsistencies regarding RSD procedure:
Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR’s Mandate states the scheduled timeframe for interviews and conditions for postponements as follows:
3.5.1 General Scheduling Procedures:
Scheduling of RSD interviews and appointments in UNHCR offices should be conducted according to established procedures and in an orderly, fair and transparent manner.
Scheduling procedures in UNHCR offices should promote the most efficient use of staff, time and minimize inconvenience to Applicants. To avoid unduly long waits for Applicants, and crowding in the Reception area, scheduling of the time of interviews and appointments relating to RSD should be as precise as possible. Scheduling should be based on a realistic assessment of the processing capacity of the UNHCR Office, taking into account potential emergency scheduling appointments.
3.5.3 Scheduling of RSD Interviews:
Scheduling of RSD Interviews should ensure that Applicants are afforded a reasonable period of time to receive and consider information on the RSD process and procedures and to adequately prepare and present their claim. However, scheduling of RSD Interviews should also promote the right to prompt processing of RSD Applicants and the timely and efficient determination of Refugee claims by UNHCR offices. RSD Interviews should therefore be scheduled as soon as possible after the Applicant has been registered by UNHCR.
The length of time between the date of registration and the scheduled RSD Interview will vary depending on the number of registered cases and the number of Eligibility Officers in each UNHCR office, but should not exceed six months. When the scheduling of RSD Interviews exceeds this period, the UNHCR Office should notify the relevant Bureau at UNHCR Headquarters and DIP.
But the long application processing time for Pakistani Christian asylum seekers (in comparison to other nationalities and religious sects); i.e., three to four years to get a Refugee Status Determination (RSD) interview and a further 18 months for resettlement in the adopting country is the contradiction to the UNHCR´s own white book, (given at the time of filling the asylum application) it’s clearly mentioned on page No-2 that within 12 weeks UNHCR will take the RSD interview, and a further 12 weeks is needed to resettle in a third country. UNHCR is showing a biased attitude towards the Pakistani asylum seekers; they treated Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in a very inhumane way. UNHCR is well aware that Pakistani Christians are poor and vulnerable and cannot obtain a Thai visa, as it costs $1000 to $2000. Despite this, they are deliberately delaying the interviews of determination of the Christian community, which is creating high risk for these asylum seekers.
3.5.5 Rescheduling RSD Interviews:
In light of the potential protection Implications for the Applicant of delayed RSD, scheduled RSD Interviews should only be postponed by UNHCR in exceptional cases, and in consultation with RSD Supervisor or another designated Protections staff member.
UNHCR’s apathetic behavior in scheduling interviews for four or five years later from the date of registration should be brought into account since it is inconsistent to the Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR’s Mandate. The guidelines and procedure booklet available at the entrance of UNHCR Bangkok states the same procedures but acts otherwise. Ignoring all the facts of how hard it will be for the Applicants to survive during these years it gives them a date so distant that could be enough to kill people.
Irregular scheduling of dates and postponements without being informed should be considered a severe violation of the procedures. In most cases, Applicants are informed of the postponement only one day before their scheduled interview. Other times, Applicants find out of the postponement on reaching the UNHCR office.
Interviews are ruthlessly cancelled after years of wait and are rescheduled for a shocking one more year! Due to illegal status of Asylum seekers they cannot even seek help from the authorities if a mishap occurs or call an ambulance in emergencies. At present only three Eligibility Officers are working, the work pressure is too much for three officers to handle, but UNHCR should not allow its flaws to affect the vulnerable lives that depend on it. If UNHCR has a lot of work then it should hire more work people, it can’t just claim to have lack of funds. . Bangkok project should be given more care because people really are suffering and the need is great.
This delay and irregularity is also intended to be an example for future asylum seekers, it is to discourage asylum seekers from seeking protection in order to scare those who are only economical migrants. But UNHCR should avoid immature approach and have compassion for those who really face persecution. Those should not be penalized unfairly who have sought UNHCR’s protection seeing it as a humanitarian organization. This should be a matter International Concern since it involves at least two countries and an International organization’s violations.
According to Universal declaration of human rights, Article 14, everybody has the right to seek asylum in other countries. UNHCR should respect this right and not discourage masses from seeking asylum by teaching them a hypocritical and systematic lesson. Here we produce the case references of few asylum seekers whose interviews were delayed without a valid reason given:
- Sunny Gill UNHCR # 815-13C01258: his interview is delayed for an additional year.
- Francis Gill UNHCR # 815-13C00958: his interview was delayed for 8 months
- Iram Shahzadi UNHCR # 815-13C00993: her interview was delayed for 6 months
- Atif Masih UNHCR # 815-13C00846: his interview is delayed for 10 months
- Azhar Qayum UNHCR # 815-13C00964: his interview was delayed for 8 months
- Obaid Gill UNHCR # 815-13C00972: his interview was delayed for 6 months
And many others’ RSD interviews have been delayed without a valid reason given. After RSD interviews have been conducted, very few Christians are given refugee status whereas the Ahmedi Muslim community receives a large number of acceptances and become refugees.
- Openness and Transparency:
Under UNHCR’s policy on refugee protection and solutions in urban areas, Article K 136 states: Openness and transparency on the part of UNHCR are of particular importance. Refugees will consequently be provided with full and accurate information about the durable solutions options available (and not available) to them.
Under 4.3.12 of procedural guidelines on assigning date for notification of the RSD decision the following procedures should be followed:
- At the end of the RSD interviews the Eligibility Officer should assign a date on which the RSD decision will be issued.
- Where the applicant is required to come to the UNHCR office to receive notification of the RSD decision, the applicant should receive an appointment slip with date on which the decision will be issued.
- If it is not possible to issue the RSD decision on the scheduled date UNHCR staff should make every effort to minimize uncertainty or inconvenience for the applicant. Wherever possible, the staff member concerned or a reception staff member should contact the Applicant in advance to advise him/her that rescheduling is necessary.
It is however very different in practice. No transparency is demonstrated on UNHCR’s part. Answering phone calls of asylum seekers requiring information are answered harshly and they are spoken to in a derogatory manner. Decisions of RSD are given in almost a year where as the procedural guidelines recommend a decision within one month after the interview. (4.5) No reasons are given for the delay and it is the most common practice for which UNHCR does not even bother to claim responsibility.
Here we would like to present few cases as evidences of how UNHCR-Bangkok is treating inhumanely to the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers:
- Anjum Naveed
UNHCR Registration Number – 815-13C00363
Naveed belongs to a Christian family, and received life threats and false accusations accusing him of blasphemy by his business rival in Rawalpindi, Pakistan named Ghulam Ghaus, who was a religious extremist. He was threatened, attacked and brutally beaten up by Ghulam Ghaus on his way to work in Rawalpindi. However he managed to escape from that incident and eventually left Pakistan with his family, and applied for asylum to UNHCR in Bangkok. It is indeed a great injustice on the part of an interpreter in the UNHCR Bangkok named Hadi Khan, who willingly changed the facts and figures of the evidence provided to him during the interview. There were nine contradictions in the statement which, had been submitted to UNHCR on Naveeds’s behalf after the interview in order to disapprove his case. Hence, his case was rejected by UNHCR. He appealed the rejection and is still waiting for his appeal to be accepted so that he can become a refugee.
- Naveed Statement
- Court Documents from Pakistan
- Tickets and Boarding Passes (proving that he flew from Islamabad, not from Lahore)
- Medical Reports proving that he is a patient (whereas UNHCR said that he is medically fit)
- Picture of the interpreter Hadi Khan
- Decision by the UNHCR (with 9 contradictions)
- Naveed’s Complains against the UNHCR Decision
- Naveed’s Appeal
- Interview Video showing his pain
- Masih Arfaq
UNHCR Registration Number 815-13C00071 Ref No: 815-00782096
Arfaq and his brother were running a school in Sheikhupura known as Good Shepherd High School. They were accused, by members of Al Qaeda, of trying to convert Muslim children to Christianity. Al Qaeda kept threatening them and eventually, in April 2011, took over the school forcibly. Arfaq fled to Lahore where he heard through some relatives that Al Qaeda wanted the property to be transferred to them and at the same time demanding money from Arfaq, if he wanted the school back. Arfaq paid the demanded amount of money but Al Qaeda refused to hand over the school.
This incident was also further pursued by a local Pakistani NGO named C.L.A.A.S., who later reported this incident in their Yearly Report of 2011, on page number 294: http://www.claasfamily.com/annual%20reports/ANNUAL%20REPORT%202011.pdf
Note: Even though this man was being persecuted in Pakistan, UNHCR still refused his case, saying that there was no evidence for them to grant his refugee status. Ahmedi Muslims, however, were given refugee status without proper investigation because Ahmedi interpertators favor and help their victims during the interview. Pakistani Christians are facing the same discrimination in Thailand as they were in Pakistan.
There are some very high profile cases in Bangkok that need to be determined on a priority basis, but UNHCR has extended the dates of these cases, too. These cases have been directly linked to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations that can easily come to Thailand and cause harm to the victims. Therefore, UNHCR should prioritize these cases and determine them on an urgent basis. UNHCR needs to send these people to a country where they will be safe and live peacefully, but so far, nothing has been done. Below is some documentation of these cases.
- George Naz UNHCR # 815-14C01444:
A man who was accused under the blasphemy law in Pakistan and was rescued by an international organization called Rescue Christians in March 2014. George Naz has approximately two dozen Fatwas against him, yet he has been given an RSD interview date in November 2017.
- Gulshar Murad: UNHCR # 815-14C01430:
He is the eyewitness to the murder of Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and was under constant threat from security agencies and terrorist groups. He was also rescued by Rescue Christian and brought to Thailand in March 2014.
- Tariq Yusuf: UNHCR # 815-14C01841:
Mr. Tariq is a victim of blasphemy who was rescued before being arrested by the police and moved to Thailand in May 2014. Even in Thailand he is under severe threat for his life, yet UNHCR has given him an RSD interview date in 2018.
- Cyprian Phillips UNHCR # 815-14C02140:
Also a victim of blasphemy, who got out of Pakistan just before being arrested, his interview date is in August 2018.
- Babar Bhatti UNHCR # 815-14C00740:
Babar’s wife was converted from Islam to Christianity and her family is trying to find them and get them killed. They are under constant threat, although they are in Thailand, they are still not safe. Their RSD interview date has been scheduled for 2017.
These are just some cases. Thousands of Pakistani Christian asylum seekers in Bangkok have their miserable stories to share with the world. UNHCR´s staff in Bangkok should leave their air-conditioned offices and luxury to go and see the conditions in which the persecuted Christians are living. In most cases, there are 8 to 9 people living in one studio room with no proper ventilation, hygiene or sufficient food and milk for their children. This resulted in many children suffering from malnutrition and diseases. UNHCR is the only entity responsible for the suffering of the Christian asylum seekers in Thailand who left their homeland and came to Thailand to seek refuge from the discrimination they were facing back home but unfortunately they are facing the same discrimination in Thailand. It is unjust on the part of the UNHCR to behave in such a manner, considering that they have to be neutral and trustworthy.
The current UNHCR-Bangkok staff should be immediately suspended or substituted as they have failed to provide any help to the persecuted Pakistani Christian Asylum seeker community and have repeatedly violated human rights by denying services that ended up killing people. The present staff should be immediately revoked and sued for hypocrisy, showing reluctance to provide aid, misusing power and denying rights to the most vulnerable groups. It is a shame that Humanitarian entities that preach Human Rights are among the violators. New staff should be assigned to protect these lives and determine their status impartially and adequately.
- Process of RSD interviews should be conducted in first six months as mentioned in the White book of UNHCR. And the interview must be organized on urgent basis for those victims who are already waiting for years now.
- An Investigation Committee should be appointed to investigate on how things have gone wrong in UNHCR-Bangkok and who is responsible for the suffering which the Pakistani Christian asylum seekers have faced until now. The members of that appointed committee should also meet with the Asylum seekers in person and listen to their problems.
- The Asylum seekers and Refugees should be given right to hire their own lawyers as most of the cases were refused due to the lack of proper legal guideline.
- Considering the suffering and wait, Asylum seekers who have been waiting for years should be transferred to other asylum countries to reduce the burden of UNHCR Bangkok and so that the asylum seekers can start their lives again in countries that give them their rights.
This complaint is based on evident facts and figures, observed in person by Mr. Rainer Rothfuss and Farrukh Harrison Saif. For reference to evidence,
- Jubilee Campaign’s Urgent Report on “Pakistani Asylum Seekers in Bangkok”
- Farrukh Saif Foundation’s “Human Rights crisis in Bangkok – Thailand”
- And a report on “incidents of corruption threatening the UNHCR and Thai immigration system in Thailand” filed in UNHCR Geneva by Mr. Rainer Rothfuss
can be reviewed which are attached with the present complaint. Jubilee Campaign has been previously advocating for rights of Pakistani and Afghani asylum seekers in Sri Lanka when the government disrespected the International guidelines for refugees. Farrukh Saif Foundation has been providing emergency based need in Bangkok, paying over stay fines and even bails of dozens of Pakistani Christian Asylum seekers. We Plea UNHCR headquarters in Geneva to take action against the injustice going on in Thailand or else it will be soon referred to the International Criminal court for losing dignity and playing with innocent lives.
- Farrukh Harrison Saif from Farrukh Saif Foundation
- Keith Davies from Rescue Christians
- Graham Ford from Partners with the persecuted
- Claudio Lobos Villanueva from COMRADE
- Nazir S. Bhatti from Pakistan Christian Congress
Farrukh Harrison Saif
Executive Director – Farrukh Saif Foundation
International Director – Rescue Christians
This is for all of the fools out there who continue to complain how much “oppression” and “racism” there is in America. Why don’t you try living in Pakistan, and you will see real oppression and tyranny. Go talk about how much “suffering” there is in America to Asiya Bibi.
This Christian girl was stolen by four Muslim teenagers who took her to a room and put her to sleep. When she woke up she found herself completely naked. She heard the teenagers in another room, laughing sadistically. When she tried to open the door, they came in and each one took turns raping her. It is truly a horrific story, to read what cross this girl had to bear. As she carried her cross, we as well carried our cross — the cross that requires us to rescue persecuted Christians like Asiya. And thats exactly what we did. Thanks to your most generous donations, our team stealthily snuck her and her mother out of the captivity they were living in, and brought her to liberation.
Here is a video interview that we did of her, in which Asiya recounts what horrors she had to go through, and how our team rescued her:
This is just one story of the suffering that the saints must go through. And we were able, through your donations, to go out and rescue this one travailing sheep. Please, do not be a lazy and useless servant, and help us rescue all of these sheep who must live every day amongst the wolves.
By Zahid Hussain
The fate of 65-year-old Khalil Ahmed was sealed on the day he was accused of blasphemy. It was his death warrant. He was killed while in police detention hours after he was arrested.
A schoolboy, who has not been identified by name, reportedly walked into the police station and shot Ahmed dead in full view of the officers. What motivated the teenager to commit this cold-blooded murder?
Perhaps he was inspired by the glorification of other murders commtted for alleged blasphemy. Or perhaps he was incited by some zealot. The young boy had been growing up watching Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of governor Salmaan Taseer, being garlanded. Qadri also had a mosque outside the capital named after him, and his larger-than-life portraits adorn certain public places. The young killer might have been told that the same glory awaited him.
He is the product of a society that condones vigilantism and exalts murder committed in the name of religion; the guardians of the law are too afraid to act against the ‘holy killers.’ It is a country where a judge had to flee abroad after convincting Qadri. No wonder the Islamabad High Court is reluctant to validate the conviction.
It was the second murder involving the blasphemy issue in a span of a few days. The murderers of rights activist Rashid Rehman have not yet been apprehended despite his having named those who threatened him. Even if arrested, they may never be convicted, thus encouraging other potential ‘holy murderers.’
In Ahmed’s case, it was shocking that the murderer could walk into a police station, and not be stopped from killing a detainee. The incident in a central Punjab village not far from Lahore was not a breaking story and was underplayed by most of the print media, maybe because the victim was Ahmadi.
Ahmed along with three others was reportedly arrested on blasphemy charges after an altercation with a local shopkeeper. Being members of a persecuted religious minority makes Ahmadis more vulnerable to concoted charges, which gives bogts a license to kill. In this environment the young murderer is not an aberration.
All this started when the state took upon itself the responsibility of deciding who is Muslim and who is not and legalising religious persecution. A corollary of this is that individuals too have now taken up the right to give verdicts on the religious beliefs of others. The mullahs have become custodians of the law as the state’s authority is fast eroding.
In fact, the blasphemy law has become a weapon of persecution and even those defending the accussed are deemed liable. Some time ago, a blasphemy case was filed against former information minister Sherry Rehman for suggesting some procedural changes in the law in the National Assembly.
A glaring example of the gross misuse of the law was witnessed last week when 68 lawyers were booked on blasphemy charges for chanting slogans against a police officer whose name happened to be Omar. The sword of Damocles hangs over every Pakistani citizen, much more so over religious minorities. It is a death warrant once you are accused of blasphemy.
It is despicable the way the blasphemy law is being used in the ongoing media war between rival channels who have filed cases of blasphemy against each other. There is no dearth of instances where clerics are ‘rented’ to get a fatwa to declare the other channel un-Islamic.
Mullahs are having a field day dominating the television screen. What the TV channels do not realise is that no one will come out unscathed in this dirty war. It is the hard-won media freedom that is now under threat. The fear now is that radical clerics will decide what should appear on TV programmes.
This war of fatwas presents a serious threat to the lives of soem TV hosts and employees, forcing them to go into hiding or even to flee the country. This fragmented, dysfunctional state cannot protect the lives of those coming in the crossfire.
The role of some security and intelligence agencies in fuelling the hate campaign for settling scores with critics is despicable. Use of religion for proxy wars by state institutions is an extremely dangerous game giving more space to the extremists.
Resultantly, the radical clerics are once again taking centre stage in the ongoing political circus. One can see them leading pro-military rallies hodling larger-than-life portrains of the ISI and army chiefs and spewing their tox narratives on television screens.
Surely they rae trying to seize this opportunity to raise the stakes and sell their services to the highest bidders. The tension between civillians and the military, and their proxy war through the media, has further empowered the extremist religious groups and clerics. This situation will breen more violence in society.
This atmosphere not only produces more child suicide combers but also teenaged killers like the one who shot Khalil Ahmed. Religious extremism and growing intolerance has polarised and fragmented the country making it increasingly difficult to have rational discourse on relgion and other important issues.
Worse still is the failure of the state to deal with this highly dangerous situation. What we are witnessing today is the unreavelling of the state. The use of religion and extremist mullahs as a proxy in the power game is a destructive trend that is threatening the unity of the country.
The writer is an author and journalist.