Guest / Limited Access /
How Pakistani Christians Fleeing Persecution Get Tied Up in Thailand
Nicolas Asfouri / Getty

Nearly four years after refugees from Pakistan began showing up at evangelical churches in Thailand, church members were overwhelmed. What started as a handful of families asking for money at Bangkok services had become hundreds.

Today, nearly 10,000 Pakistani refugees are living in Thailand. An estimated half of them are Christians fleeing persecution like the Easter Sunday bombing in Lahore.

It is easy and inexpensive (compared with neighboring countries) for Pakistanis to obtain 30-day tourist visas to Thailand. Further, the majority Buddhist nation has lost more than 6,000 people to Islamist extremism since 2004. This leads Pakistani Christians fleeing persecution to believe the country will be sympathetic to their plight, says Jeffrey Imm, an advocate for such refugees. [Jubilee Campaign offers an in-depth report.]

Even so, after the tourist visa expires, Thailand considers all refugees to be illegal immigrants. Most left Pakistan not knowing that Thailand has not signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, a treaty that protects refugees’ rights. Without legal status, many families fear that they will be arrested and forced to endure harsh conditions in immigration detention centers until they’re bailed out, can pay for a return flight, or are resettled.

Their plight has become increasingly public. In February, the BBC released a one-hour documentary highlighting Thailand’s treatment of Pakistani refugees. Since its release, the situation has only worsened for migrants, states the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA). It claims that Thai officials blocked two dozen humanitarians seeking to visit and provide food for refugees in detention centers earlier this month, and that family members are now ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
New & Noteworthy Books
Compiled by Matt Reynolds.
RecommendedPersecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Persecution in the Early Church: Did You Know?
Beginning as a despised, illicit religious sect, Christianity endured 300 years of hostility to emerge as the dominant force in the Roman Empire.
TrendingWhy Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
Why Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
It's one the great mysteries of ministry. Why do pastors have such a bad reputation for answering or returning phone calls? Here are 9 reasons.
Editor's PickThe Good (and Bad) News About Christian Higher Education
The Good (and Bad) News About Christian Higher Education
‘Christian colleges are as strong as they’ve been since the 1920s,’ says historian William Ringenberg. But there are challenges on the horizon.
Christianity Today
How Pakistani Christians Fleeing Persecution Get Tied Up in ...
hide thisApril April

In the Magazine

April 2016

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.