Detained in Thailand: Almost 100 Pakistani refugees released

Published: June 7, 2011
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The refugees, all members of the Ahmadi community, had been in detention for more than six months. PHOTO: REUTERS

The refugees, all members of the Ahmadi community, had been in detention for more than six months. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK: 

Almost 100 Pakistani refugees were freed on Monday from Bangkok’s overcrowded immigration prison in an initiative spearheaded by Thai human rights activists, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The Thai Committee for Refugees said the release on bail of 96 members of Pakistan’s Ahmadiyya community was the first such large-scale release of refugees who Thai authorities treat as “illegal aliens”, according to AP.

The group negotiated the release with the state National Human Rights Commission and immigration officials.

The detainees, about a third of whom are children, were arrested last December even though all but two were granted official refugee status by the United Nations.

“We are feeling very happy … like a bird in a cage when it comes out,” said Mehnood, a freed 35-year-old refugee who declined to give his last name, as quoted by AP.

The committee said conditions in the detention centre had been described as “overcrowded, inhumane and unhygienic,” with more than 150 people having to share cells designed for 30 to 40 people.

“In the women’s cell there were times when some women had to stand so that others could sleep,” said co-coordinator of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network Anoop Sukumaran.

“The children were often sleeping next to the toilets, which were overflowing with feces and urine. The conditions, to say the least, were horrific at some points.”

Thailand attracts thousands of refugees each year because it is easily accessible by land and sea, and borders several countries that are politically repressive and economically weaker.

It has generally been welcoming to refugees, especially when they have been fleeing warfare in neighbouring countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar. In recent years, however, it has taken a harder line toward groups such as the Hmong from Laos and Rohingya from Myanmar, whom they see as economic migrants.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2011.


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Reader Comments (8)

  • muhammad saad sadiq
    Jun 6, 2011 - 3:01PM

    ahmadis have the lowest status in pakistani society,lower than any other non-muslims.The law discriminates against them in a horrible way,our society shuns them as outcasts in an even worse way.They are the only people who can’t tell their friends what their religion is,i’ve had hindu,christian,parsi friends who if asked about their religion would state it,though with a look of hesitation & fear in their eyes.But the ahmadi children couldn’t even say they were ahmadis,i only learned about it years later when a few of them told me they couldn’t say so in college days as they would have been shunned & face ridicule and humiliation.

    Why our media continues to ignore their plight is beyond me.everyone has a right to believe or not believe in something,if the ahmadis believe in something different to me,then they have a right to believe it,it can’t be that i force them to follow my beliefs.Recommend

  • rahat bawany
    Jun 6, 2011 - 3:06PM

    The ahmadis should take responsibility for a little of their plight because they have failed to highlight their persecution in the international media,i’ve never seen them get coverage on cnn,bbc,nytimes or newsweek etc.

    A lot of ahmadis migrated to the west & their second generation is well educated but doesn’t engage with the american or european media at all.Why they don’t present their case better i don’t know.I guess they just aren’t pro-active and have chosen to accept their outcast status.
    They have their headquarters i think in england or france but i’ve never seen any coverage of their persecution in lemonde or guardian or telegraph.If they don’t raise voice for themselves no one is going to come to help them.Recommend

  • usman akhtar
    Jun 6, 2011 - 3:11PM

    A lot of people in my office rejoiced & congratulated each other when the news of the attacks on the ahmadi worship places took place in lahore.And this was the scene in a multinational company ,just think what would have taken place in the rest of the society.A lot of my neighbours,relatives & friends also thanked allah for the ‘heroic’ action of the attackers.

    it is a surprise to me why the many correspondents of foreign newspapers and tv channels based in pakistan never cover the issue of the horrific persecution of the ahmadis in pakistan? perhaps they’ve not been properly engaged by the ahmadi community.

    but still pressure has to be built up to reduce the persecution of the ahmadi community.They have got to be started to be treated as human beings,not as kaafirs deserving death only for being ahmadi.Recommend

  • fajim bilwany
    Jun 6, 2011 - 3:14PM

    I think ahmadis along with athiests & ex-muslims face the greatest hatred from our society and media.The comments of the supposedly well educated people i’ve heard in my life about the ahmadis,ex-muslims are simply shocking.
    So much hatred only because someone chooses to believe something different from you or has stopped to believe something you continue to believe in.

    Enough is enough,laws should be made in pakistan for the protection of ex-muslims,athiests and ahmadis.Recommend

  • saad ahmad
    Jun 6, 2011 - 10:13PM

    I have sent a link of discussion of Jamt e Islami leader will give you all answers why Ahamdies are not getting rights. read the interviewRecommend

  • Humanity
    Jun 7, 2011 - 7:34AM

    @saad ahmad:
    Shame on you for promoting the snake oil salesmen peddling religion for political and material gains. It is this hateful ideology that has turned Pakistan into a 6th century cave of pre-Islamic jahalat.

    ET, latetly my comments have been deleted .. why ???Recommend

  • raheela
    Jun 7, 2011 - 7:11PM

    God bless Thailand amin:-)Recommend

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