Every year, 1,000s of Pakistani families – many of them Christian – face persecution and even death for their beliefs.
They fear the death penalty for blasphemy and regularly face danger as churches are bombed and many are jailed.
Human rights experts agree that the blasphemy law is used to settle personal grudges and evoked by extremists to murder Christians.
CHRIS ROGERS, THE TIMES
This intense persecution has forced thousands of families to flee Pakistan and seek refuge elsewhere. For some, the quickest, cheapest way to escape is to take the 5-hour direct flight to Thailand and hope that the United Nations refugee agency will protect them and help their case for asylum. But the welcome they prayed for has led to a life of destitution and jail.
Thailand hasn’t signed up to the UN Refugee Convention so asylum seekers get no help or protection; instead they are trapped in a web of bureaucracy and hostility. After their 90-day tourist visa runs out, the police arrest them as illegal immigrants.
Forced to flee Pakistan after extremists threatened to kill him and his family, Samuel and his family found their way to Thailand.
After his tourist visa expired, he registered as an asylum seeker but the UN’s refugee office told him it would take many years to process his application.
In the meantime, he can’t work, doesn’t speak the language and his funds have run out - leaving him and his family destitute.
So Samuel was jailed as an illegal immigrant - despite being a registered asylum-seeker.
Samuel’s wife and children were arrested with him and held in the detention centre, but their children became sick with diarrhoea and vomiting from the insanitary conditions of the cell and drinking water. They are still there.
Despite this, Samuel, like other refugees, dare not return home, and are determined to continue to seek asylum outside Pakistan for the sake of their faith and their children.
Jubilee Campaign have campaigned for human rights in Pakistan for decades. In just one example, we defended Salamat Masih, an 11-year old boy, accused of writing blasphemous words on the walls of a mosque.
The child couldn’t read or write but faced death by hanging. After a court appearance, a gunman opened re in a dramatic drive-by shooting and he was hit in the hand.
Ann Buwalda (Jubilee Campaign USA) continues to support Christian families inside Pakistan through local partners.
We’re also providing laptops and teaching materials for home-schools that have been set up as it’s almost impossible for refugee children to attend public school
Read Danny Smith’s inspiring story about Jubilee Campaign’s fight for the world’s forgotten children. More here.
Campaign in parthership with the Epiphany Trust