VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED

Category Archives: Asia

Persecuted Christians in Thailand being denied asylum

Pakistani Christian asylum seekers brought to court caged in police van in Dec. 2015

(Voice of the Persecuted) The early church faced much persecution but continued to thrive; today, the persecution exists at an even greater scale.

Matthew 5:11 states, “Blessed are those that are persecuted.”

Many Pakistani Christians who’ve fled to Thailand are very familiar with ongoing aggressions against them. They’re stuck in a limbo after being sucked in a whirlpool of discrimination, persecution and incarceration, all due to their faith in Christ Jesus.

Thousands of persecuted Pakistani Christian brothers and sisters in Thailand sought refuge in UNHCR Thailand. After years of waiting and suffering the brutal incarceration in the Immigration Detention Centre, many of them have been rejected by the UNHCR, with very little chance of getting refugee status through appeals.

Two of our families, that have been part of the Voice of the Persecuted relief project in Thailand, were recently rejected by the UNHCR. Many of you may remember John, a little boy who was brought to us malnourished and very sick. His family has been rejected based on what the UNHCR considers insufficient information to explain the level of threat they would have faced if they had stayed in Pakistan. John’s family maintains their stance of death upon return and have appealed against the decision of UNHCR with hopes of getting a positive result.

Jackson’s family was rejected in the beginning of June. They, like others who’ve been denied asylum, were given 30 days for appeal. The young father is on bail from the IDC and is worried that his appeal would be instantly cancelled and he would have to return to the IDC, estranged from his wife and 1-year old son. Jackson has made a very hard choice to go back to Pakistan as the UNHCR promised to give him airfare and $100 each if they decide to be repatriated. However, this offer would be void if Jackson appeals against the UNHCR decision.

Sadly, the majority of Christian asylum seekers have had little or no luck with their appeals. Majority of them have been rejected and their files have been closed, their UNHCR cards taken away and they are left hopeless to survive on their own in a ruthless country.

Before mid-2015, many Christians were freed on a bail bond of $1400 each, on reason for their registration with UNHCR and further conditions were added including ineligibility to work and reporting to the prison every 15 days. After the UNHCR started rejecting cases, for many it meant that their bails would be cancelled and they are required to return inside the IDC with their children and elders.

Many are opting to go back to Pakistan and risk their lives in a desperate effort to survive. In April, a woman named Asia Johnson sadly went back to Pakistan. Voice of the Persecuted had been able to pay her overstay fine in December 2015 and subsequently she was bailed with the help of another charity. Her appeal was refused and her cards were taken away, as a result, her bail was cancelled. She was given an ultimatum to return to the IDC with her 2 young daughters, the youngest being 6 years old. She described the IDC as hell and decided to move back to Pakistan. She has moved to another part of Pakistan in hopes of hiding from her persecutors. Since, she has been untraceable to us. We pray for her protection and safety as she could potentially face threats due to her faith in Christ. This is the story of hundreds of Pakistani Christians who have been re-persecuted by the UNHCR and are left with no choice than to go back to face persecution for their faith in Christ.

Please continue to keep our aid missions in your prayers. We have been trying to increase our mission in Thailand but are unable to do that without help. We have been sustaining support for Jacksonn’s and for John’s family as they fight for their claim to be approved, but we have been struggling to maintain ongoing funds for our families. Please pray for them. Continue to support our mission through your prayers.

God bless the persecuted church.

1 John 4:19 states, “We love because He first loved us.” Let us continue to share our love bestowed upon us through our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
God bless us all.

By our Asian correspondent

Join us during our 12-hour prayer conference call, today. We are expecting to speak with and pray with a Pakistani brother between

Time of the Call:

9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Eastern time

8 a.m.-8 p.m.  Central time

7 a.m.-7 p.m.  Mountain time

6 a.m.-6 p.m. Pacific time

Call number: 712.775.7035
Access code: 281207#

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 and fairly investigate 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.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

MALDIVES: Maldives Ruling Party Should Repudiate Attacks on UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly condemns the verbal and online attacks against UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed.  The statements by the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the online postings of at least one religious scholar include harsh criticism and accusations that Shaheed is an apostate from his Muslim faith. The denunciations of this advocate for religious freedom have even resulted in calls online for his beheading.

According to reports, statements from the PPM, the party of current President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, accuse Dr. Shaheed of spreading “evil deeds” among Maldivians.  “As if this were not enough,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga, who recently met with him in Oxford to discuss religious freedom, “the party also called on the public to speak out against Shaheed’s ‘irreligious’ activities, which resulted in online postings accusing him of apostasy and calling for his beheading.  Coming from the ruling party, this is nothing less than government-sanctioned incitement to violence.  That is unacceptable in the Maldives or any other country.”

Shaheed is currently the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.  In this key position, he is mandated to “identify existing and emerging obstacles to the enjoyment of the right to freedom of religion or belief and present recommendations on ways and means to overcome such obstacles.”  Freedom of religion or belief is intimately linked to freedom of expression.  Dr. Shaheed is being attacked by political and religious figures in his home country for exercising his freedom of expression on a variety of issues spanning several countries.

One reported Facebook posting by an alleged religious scholar called for Muslims who have expressed views such as Shaheed’s to “repent,” and if they do not, “Their heads will have to be removed [from their bodies] as a non-believer.  [This has to be] implemented by the ruler.”  Postings and statements such as this and those by the PPM have resulted in numerous explicit, violent threats against Dr. Shaheed as well as his family.

USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark added, “The PPM should retract its statements threatening Dr. Shaheed and condemn in the strongest possible terms any calls for action against him.  Rather than inciting violence against a fellow citizen, the PPM should protect Dr. Shaheed and indeed any other Maldivian citizen who exercises his or her right to freedom of expression. A government is responsible for protecting its citizens, not being complicit in threats to their lives.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world. USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations abroad and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties.

‘Risk of genocide’ linked with level of religious freedom

(World Watch Monitor) Yemen is the country where the risk of genocide, or mass killing, rose most last year, says Minority Rights Group International (MRG) in its 2017 Peoples Under Threat index, which also includes a large number of countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.

Nine of the Index’s top 12 are also in the top 12 of Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List– namely Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Nigeria.

MRG calculates its annual index based on a number of indicators directly linked to the level of freedom of religion and expression, including democracy and governance, conflict data, and displacement.

Yemen, for instance, ranks 8th on the MRG Index and 9th on the WWL. The civil war that erupted there in 2014 has caused chaos and lawlessness, creating a climate where oppression can flourish.

Radical Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State have exploited the power vacuum in Yemen to gain significant influence. Christians have been killed and abducted, including 16 people killed in an attack on a Christian care home for the elderly in March 2016.

According to MRG’s index, which lists the top 70 countries most at risk of genocide, mass killing or systematic violent repression, two-thirds of the countries where this risk has risen are in Africa.

Also, an increasing number of people are living at “deadly risk” in a growing number of “no-go zones” around the world. MRG says its reports shows “how a lack of access from the outside world allows killing to be perpetrated unchecked in disputed territories, militarized enclaves, and in some cases, whole countries… International isolation is a known risk factor for genocide or mass killing”.

Syria, for example, leads the list for the third consecutive year and, according to the report, UN human rights officials have been “granted no access to Syria since the crisis began in 2011”.

Cholera outbreak

Meanwhile the civil war in Yemen has so far killed more than 8,000 people and injured over 45,000 civilians. The fighting between Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the north and the Saudi-backed government in the south has furthermore displaced more than 3 million people – over 10 per cent of Yemen’s population – reports the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

OCHA says these figures are most likely lower than the reality because of the lack of reporting capacity and people not having access to health centres.

Those who have not been killed or injured in the fighting might still lose their lives in the largest ever recorded cholera outbreak in a single country in a single year, aid agencies warn. With a crumbling health system, with less than half the country’s hospitals operational and a lack of available medication, nearly 2,000 people have died of cholera so far, with an estimated 5,000 Yemenis becoming ill every day. More than 600,000 Yemenis could have cholera before the end of the year, the International Committee of the Red Cross has warned.

Pakistan’s Calculated Spin on Apparent Killing of Chinese Evangelists

Meng Li Si (Meng Lisi) and Lee Zing Yang (Li Xinheng ). (iFeng.com photo)

(Morning Star News) – Islamabad’s claim that “violations” of business visas contributed to the murder of two Chinese evangelists last month served key government purposes.

Lee Zing Yang (Li Xinheng is said to be the more accurate rendering), 24, and Meng Li Si (Meng Lisi), 26, were teaching Chinese to people in Pakistan, and, like any Christian, they also intended to share the gospel with people they met. Pakistani media dutifully broadcast the Interior Ministry spin on their apparent deaths, which accused the couple of “preaching” – suggesting that it violated terms of their business visas (it was not clear how), and wrongly implying that they were exhorting crowds of people to believe in Christ.

Reports state that Lee and Meng were paid 30,000 rupees (US$280) per month to teach Chinese to people in Pakistan at a language institute run by a South Korean, Juan Won Seo. The interior ministry released a statement asserting that security officials told Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in a June 12 meeting that, “Instead of engaging in any business activity, they went to Quetta and under the garb of learning [the] Urdu language from a Korean national …were actually engaged in preaching.”

The apparent error that they were there to learn Urdu aside, Khan’s announcement, which included a call to tighten processes for issuing business visas, sent the message that the pair’s kidnapping and apparent murder resulted from allegedly violating terms of their visas.

Lee and Meng were kidnapped off the streets of Quetta, capital of northwestern Pakistan’s Balochistan Province, on May 24. The Islamic State-affiliated news agency Amaq reported on June 8 that IS fighters had killed two Chinese teachers being held in Mastung, Balochistan, and IS released a video showing what are believed to be their bodies shot and bleeding.

Pakistan reportedly confirmed that the Chinese teachers had been killed, though it was unclear if officials had recovered their bodies.

The interior minister’s emphasis on the need to shore up the visa process, rather than improving security against Islamic extremists, served the government’s purpose of deflecting blame. It also sent a chilling message to foreign Christian evangelists. Previously the government had leaked news that two Korean Christians, 27-year-old Kown Ki Ye and 23-year-old Lee Ha Gyeong, had been expelled from a private hostel in Quetta after they were discovered “preaching Christianity” to students at Sardur Bahadur Khan Women’s University in Quetta.

“The government has deliberately leaked this information to create panic in the foreign missionary circles,” a source told Morning Star News.

The interior ministry’s spin on the murder of the Chinese pair also served its purpose in relations with China, which has pledged to invest $57 billion in infrastructure in Pakistan designed to link China with the Middle East and Europe. The capital for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPC) has put China in position to make demands of Pakistan that have raised criticism within Pakistan.

Besides helping to preserve the enormous CPC investment, the government’s statements on the killing of Lee and Meng were done deliberately to check China’s position in bilateral relations, a Foreign Affairs ministry contact told Morning Star News. Pakistan has since bolstered its position vis-a-visa China by boosting security for Chinese nationals.

Pakistan has also deported Juan Won Seo, accusing him of setting up a phony business as a cover for a church and “preaching activities.” A South Korean official has denied this claim. True or not, whether Seo broke any laws by telling others about Christ while operating a language institute in Pakistan remains unclear.

While Islam is the state religion of Pakistan, its constitution states that all citizens have the right to profess, practice, and propagate their religion, as well as the right to freedom of speech subject to “reasonable restrictions in the interest of the glory of Islam.”

What does seem certain is that Pakistani officials have violated international standards of religious freedom and free speech by deporting foreign evangelists and suggesting that those who exercise their faith are responsible for violence done to them.

Christian Families in India Forced into Hindu Ritual, Denied Water

India (Morning Star News) – Villagers in Uttar Pradesh state, India beat Christians, forced them to participate in Hindu rituals and have refused to provide them water, sources said.

Four families who were attacked in Jalalabad village, Ghazipur District rely on the water to irrigate their fields, they said.

“How will we survive if we don’t grow our crops?” Sasikala Kumari asked Morning Star News, noting that the village head and police have allowed the Hindus to cut off the Christians water supply. “They have all joined together and are conspiring against us.”

Hindu villagers on April 25 beat with sticks Manoj Kumar, his wife Pushpa Kumari and three other Christian couples, including Sasikala Kumari and her husband Ramkreet Ram – and accused them of forcibly converting Hindus to Christianity.

“The mob supported by the village president forced us to drink gangajal [water from the Ganges River, considered holy), eat tulsi [basil considered holy] leaves and declare that we deny Christ,” Pushpa Kumari told Morning Star News. “When we resisted, the men and women of the village beat us even more severely.”

The four couples along with four other Christians refused to participate in the ritual or deny Christ. A total of 13 other younger Christians felt compelled to participate in the Hindu ritual and deny Christ, they said.

“The youths were forced by the extremists to consume gangajal and tulsi leaves and deny Christ,” Pushpa Kumari told Morning Star News. “The village president instigates the mob to attack whoever converts to Christianity.”

When the Christians went to the Dullapur police station to file a complaint against the assailants, village President Santosh Kumar Gupta arrived also and accused them of forcible conversion.

Gupta denied that he and the other Hindus pressured the Christians to deny Christ and participate in the Hindu ritual, telling Morning Star News that the incident was a mere quibble between the two groups.

The matter went before police, he said.

Manoj Kumar, who leads prayers in his house on Sundays since the families do not have the means to travel into town for worship, said police listened to both sides.

“The villagers were against us, they made false allegations that we are forcibly converting the people,” Manoj Kumar said. “The police asked the villagers to let anyone follow their own Dharma [religious teaching] peacefully, and that nobody shall disturb the prayer services in the village’s house church.”

In the presence of the village head, the Hindu villagers said they would abide by the police request, and neither side filed a formal complaint. The agreement, however, made no mention of water service, and the villagers have refused to sell it to the Christians.

“As a result, we aren’t allowed our share of supply of water in the fields,” Manoj Kumar told Morning Star News. “We are ready to pay the hourly price, but the president and villagers have decided to not let us irrigate. Our field is going dry; it’s burned dead.”

Village President Gupta told Morning Star News he cannot prevent the Hindus from cutting off the Christians’ water.

“As far as the problem about the supply of water, it’s personal,” he said. “If nobody in the village wants to sell them water from the bore wells, it’s their personal choice.”

Asked if a basic commodity like water can be denied to a people on religious grounds in a secular country like India, Gupta said the families have not complained to him about it. Had they come, he said, he would have resolved it.

The families said the village president’s statement was untrue.

“We went to him twice now,” Pushpa Kumari said. “Gupta’s wife told us to bring the attackers to their house, and she will solve our problem. Why would the attackers come?”

The Christians approached the village head a third time on Wednesday (June 14), but they said he only told them, “You must get down from your high horse. Stop the worship services in the village. Stop following Christ, only then water will be supplied to your fields.”

Some of the attackers, identified only as Vijay, Hari, Rajender, Mukh Lal and Sonu, are part of a village committee that aids of the village president, Manoj Kumar said.

The sub-inspector of police of Dullapur in whose presence the matter was settled in the first week of May declined to comment, saying he had been transferred to another post.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took power in May 2014, the hostile tone of his National Democratic Alliance government, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against non-Hindus has emboldened Hindu extremists in several parts of the country to attack Christians, religious rights advocates say.

 

Christian Sanitation Worker in Pakistan Dies after Hospital Refuses to Treat Him, Family Says

Protestors with Irfan Masih’s body during demonstration. (Twitter)

LAHORE, Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Christian sanitation worker in Pakistan died on Thursday (June 1) after Muslim doctors refused to treat him for poisonous gas he was exposed to in a sewer, sources said.

Doctors at Civil Hospital Medical refused to treat 28-year-old Irfan Masih of Umerkot City, Sindh Province, saying they did not want to touch the filth-covered worker during the Islamic month of Ramandan, Masih’s brother told Morning Star News.

Babar Masih said that his brother entered a deep manhole to clear a sewage line but smelled poisonous gas and called out for help.

“Irfan’s coworkers did not have the equipment to pull him out, so another worker, Yaqoob Masih, descended into the manhole to rescue him,” he said. “However, both men inhaled the fumes and fainted. Two other Christian sanitary workers, Faisal Masih and Shaukat Masih, went after them but they also fainted.”

Area passers-by managed to rescue the four men, who were taken to Umerkot Civil Hospital, he said. The doctors on duty, however, said they were fasting and would not touch the Christian, who was covered in sewage filth, he said.

“The doctors said they refused to treat him because they were fasting and said he was ‘napaak [unclean],’” Baba Masih said.

Family members cleaned Masih’s body, he added, after which the doctors sent for an oxygen cylinder.

“But the cylinder was empty” he said. “And, before they could arrange another cylinder, he died.”

The family then held a protest, carrying his body from the hospital to the Umerkot Press Club, where they demonstrated for about 10 hours, demanding the registration of a criminal case.

Based on a complaint by Irfan Masih’s father, Nazeer Masih, Umerkot Police registered a case on Friday (June 2) against Civil Hospital Medical Superintendent Jam Kunbhar, a medical officer identified only as Yusuf and duty doctor Allahdad Rathore, and three employees of the Umerkot Municipal Committee – Sanitation Inspector Behari Lal, Khalid Khoso and Sarwan Malhi. Kunbhar was reportedly arrested.

The doctors are accused of criminal negligence and manslaughter under sections 319 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, for allegedly refusing Irfan Masih treatment.

Health Director General Akhlaq Khan reportedly said that after his initial investigation, Irfan Masih’s death was not a result of the doctors’ negligence, but that they were at fault to some degree.

Officials from the Pakistan Medical Association later carried out a demonstration against the arrest of Kunbhar and case filed against the doctors, claiming that the accusations were fabricated. They threatened to boycott the Outdoor Patient Department and emergency services wards throughout the district if Kunbhar is not released.
Insisting that Masih was alive when he arrived at the hospital, the deceased’s family reportedly insisted that after Yusuf looked at him in the emergency room and then went outside.

At the same time, the municipal committee employees are accused of failing to provide him and the other Christian sanitary workers with the necessary safety kits and gear. Protesting workers alleged that Umerkot Municipal Committee officials had forced Irfan Masih and others to work in the manhole without safety gear.

Some 60 Christians are employed by the Umerkot Municipal Committee on daily wages.

“They always threaten us with consequences of losing our jobs if we don’t obey their directives,” Christian sanitation worker Ghafoor Masih told local media.

The municipal committee’s chairman and administrative officers were unavailable for comment.

Several sanitation workers have reportedly lost their lives due to toxic gases in manholes. Overall, hundreds of people have lost their lives working for the Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA), but their families do not receive benefits that other government employees get because the workers lack regular status despite working decades for the department.

Though Christians account for 90 percent of sewage workers and an even high percentage of sweepers, they make up only 2.45 percent of Pakistan’s population, which is more than 95 percent Muslim, according to Operation World.

Christian sanitation workers face extremely dangerous work conditions. When sewer lines clog because they are too small, these workers are not provided any protective gear as they sometimes dive 30 to 50 feet below ground into manholes filled with toxic water.

A large proportion of the Christian minority in Pakistan became sanitation workers for historical reasons. Sweeping in pre-Partition India was a job reserved for the lower castes. A large segment of lower Indian castes converted to Christianity after 1850, under British rule, to improve their lives.

The British continued these caste differences in the interests of convenience, economy and efficiency, and the colonial legacy inherited by the government of Pakistan has remained. After partition, even greater numbers of Christians were drawn to this profession; several landless Christian agricultural laborers who migrated to Pakistan took up the task of sweeping and sanitation in large cities in order to survive.

“Christian sanitation workers are discriminated against both by Muslims and by fellow Christians engaged in other professions,” said rights activist Shakeel Naz. “Since their work is considered unclean, people tend to look down upon them. It would not be wrong to say that the Christian sanitation workers are treated like animals in Pakistan.”

Naz, who also runs a school for poor Christian children in Lahore’s Makkah Colony, said that people refuse to shake hands with sanitation workers and do not eat from the same plate as them.

“Even some of our Christian brethren look down on these workers,” he said.

Many poor workers, by virtue of being Christian, feel they are left with no choice but to work as sweepers and sanitary workers.

“In many cases, sanitation work is inherited inter-generationally, and Christians associated with this occupation refuse to take up other jobs,” he said. “Since a large number of Christian sanitary workers have been killed while cleaning gutters and manholes, the least that the government can do is to provide them with protective gear and proper healthcare facilities.”

PHILIPPINES – Bishop of Marawi: “Video appeal of Fr. Chito: critical phase, we fear for the lives of the hostages”

Marawi (Agenzia Fides) – “Terrorists have sought contact with the military and the institutions. They released a video where Fr. Soganub Teresito, called Fr. Chito, one of the group of about 15 Catholic hostages, launches an appeal to President Duterte asking for the end of the bombings and the attack in Marawi. As foreseeable, militants are now in difficulty, they are with their shoulders against the wall.

We are happy to see that Fr. Chito, Vicar of Marawi, is alive, but we are afraid of the fate of the hostages, about 200 civilians in all, now used as human shields”: This is what the bishop of Marawi, Edwin de la Pena says to Agenzia Fides, expressing his concern for this delicate phase of the ongoing crisis in Marawi, a town on the island of Mindanao. After a week of fighting, the army has taken control of much of the city: the jihadists of the “Maute” group, affiliated with Isis, remain barricaded in 9 “barangay” (districts) out of 96 in Marawi. Half of the residents (about 100,000 people) have abandoned the city, but a few thousand civilians are trapped in the cross fire. According to official figures, 19 civilians have lost their lives, 13 soldiers, four police officers, and 61 members of the Maute group. Among the latter, six fighters are foreign, Indonesians and Malaysians.

“Hostages are hidden, who militants want to use to save their lives and flee, in a building in the city”, the bishop explains to Fides. “We are really in pain, we do not know what the army will do and how the terrorists will react. We have asked for the help of Muslim leaders in Marawi, our friends, while the whole Catholic population is gathered in prayer throughout the country”, he adds.

There is also a humanitarian emergency in the area: more than 40,000 internally displaced persons are in evacuation centers, and as many have found shelter and have been welcomed by relatives or friends in neighboring areas. Catholic communities and civil society associations have been mobilizing for the solidarity and support of refugees.

Thailand: Pakistani Christian seeking asylum dies in notorious detention center

36 yr. old Ejaz Masih,, a Pakistani Christian, dies in Bangkok Immigration Detention Center (IDC).

By VOP Thailand Correspondent

(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.

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED

Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:

2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183

 

 

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