By VOP Thailand
(Voice of the Persecuted) On Saturday, 27th May 2017, 10am local time, Pakistani Christian, Ejaz Masih, better known as Ejaz Paras, lost his life in the notorious Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok, Thailand. He was arrested in June 2016 at his home near Seacon Square in Bangkok Thailand. His brother-in-law and sister in law were also arrested.
The 36 year old father of 3 (aged 11, 8 and 1 year old) had been inside the Immigration Detention Centre since his arrest. Mr. Ejaz’s death is the 3rd death inside the IDC, whereas dozens have died outside after going through the arduous asylum process which take years.
In communication with Ejaz’s family, our correspondent learned his wife had tried to bail her husband out, but authorities denied his bail. The IDC has been preventing bail for people from countries of concern, such as Pakistan, Syria and others including Sri lanka, after a terrorist attack took place at a Buddhist Shrine in Bangkok which killed 15 people in 2015. The Immigration Police reacted by closing bails for all detainees which previously had been the only way for refugees to be emancipated from the brutal incarceration inside Thailand’s notorious IDC.
Ejaz had been in Bangkok for over 3 years. He came with his extended family, including his in laws, when his wife’s cousin, Qaisar Ayub Bhatti, was accused of blasphemy. Mr. Bhatti, who was a Masters graduate in Computer Science, came to Thailand to seek asylum with UNHCR Thailand after he wrote what was consider blasphemous content by hardliners on a website he owned. The UNHCR scheduled his asylum interview date in 2019. Frustrated by such a long delay, he decided to go back to Pakistan. When he landed in Pakistan, he was tracked by the police and arrested for blasphemy. Currently, Bhatti is in Chakwal Central jail awaiting his trial. Ejaz Paras faced similar threats and had also been chased by zealots. Since Bhatti had been immediately arrested, Ejaz was afraid to go back to Pakistan and face further persecution.
Ejaz had a history of heart disease. In October 2016, he began suffering chest pains and was taken to hospital where he stayed for 8 days. Shackled to the bed, he was allowed a single visit with his children. They were grateful as this it was impossible at the IDC as they would not be allowed to visit their father. Upon his return to the IDC, Ejaz was asked to pay the hospital bills but he didn’t have a single penny with him. As a punishment for nonpayment, Ejaz was transferred to solitary confinement. A local priest helped to pay the hospital bills then Ejaz was sent back to the main cell, commonly known as Room #3.
On Saturday morning (May 27 2017), around 10am, Mr. Ejaz and other detainees were taken from their cell to an area designated for exhaustive exercise. All detainees are required to take part.
During the exercise, Mr. Ejaz complained to the prison guard of having severe chest pains and asked for immediate medical intervention. The prison guard ignored his plea as he thought that Mr. Ejaz is making excuses to avoid the exercise.
Seeing that his situation is getting worse, other detainees gathered 2000 Thai Baht so that Ejaz could be taken to the hospital. The officer denied every request and all detainees were sent to their cell where about 160 of them are incarcerated.
Ejaz went to the washroom to take a bath. Afterwards, he dressed and stepped outside the washroom, but immediately fell unconscious and urinated in his clothes. His tongue fell outside his mouth and he started to convulse. Seeing this, fellow Christians carried him away from washroom and a crowd gathered around him. The Immigration officers saw this in the CCTV camera fixed in the IDC cell and instantly sent a team, anticipating that a prison fight had broke out.
When the officers saw Ejaz convulsing in pain on the ground, they dragged him outside the cell and were not convinced he needed medical attention. After some time, they starting preparing the paper work to take him to the Hospital. However, since they delayed and allowed him to lay on the floor for 3 hours and the young father had already passed away before help was obtained. Later, his body was taken to the Police General Hospital and the autopsy revealed that he died of a heart attack.
Such a heartbreaking story. This young father’s death may have been prevented had the Immigration officers showed compassion. Instead, the officers acted ruthlessly with no value for his life, a human life. This Christian brother died leaving his wife and children behind to suffer in this ruthless environment.
We trust that he would be with God as Ejaz had complete trust in our savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. St. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” This brother indeed died as a martyr and has finished his race to be with our savior, Jesus Christ. He would be in the bosom of father Abraham. Revelation 14:13 states that, “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes.” Says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor for their deeds will follow them.”
His body now needs to be sent back to Pakistan for burial which could cost an estimated $500 – $600. The family also needs moral and financial support as they find it hard to make the ends meet. Please uplift this family in prayer. Help to support them if you are able and pray that the children will one day find a better future.
Please pray for persecuted Christian families suffering in Thailand. Pray the Thai government will soften their hearts towards them. And pray the UNHCR will find a way to speed up the unbearably long process of their asylum cases.
VOP is on the ground in Thailand. Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
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