News / Asia

Thailand Releases Pakistan Minority Refugees on Bail, Welcomed by Activists

Pakistani refugees walk in line to a waiting bus after they were released from the immigration detention center in Bangkok, Thailand, June 6, 2011
Pakistani refugees walk in line to a waiting bus after they were released from the immigration detention center in Bangkok, Thailand, June 6, 2011
Daniel Schearf

Thailand has released nearly 100 refugees of the Ahmadiyah Muslim minority after six months in detention. The group of religious minorities, including women and children, fled persecution in Pakistan only to be arrested in Bangkok. Their release is the biggest-ever secured by a Thai refugee activist group.

The 96 refugees were jubilant after Thai immigration police released them from a Bangkok detention center.

“We are so happy, Kingdom of Thailand. We are, no have words what we say, we only say thank you very much,” said Rana Haroon Siddique, one of the men released on bail.

Siddique and others were freed after the Thai Committee for Refugees worked with Ahmadiyah Muslim groups and other activists to help pay more than $150,000 in bail money.

The Ahmadiyah practitioners fled to Thailand from Pakistan, where they are persecuted as heretics to Islam. Earlier this year, police in Bangkok arrested the 96 during several immigration raids from December to February.

Those in detention included women and more than 30 children, as well as a pregnant woman who gave birth in detention. Refugee rights groups said they were being held in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions with more than 150 people sharing cells meant for a maximum of 40 people.

The U.N. Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, welcomed their release. Spokeswoman Kitty McKinsey said they should not have been arrested in the first place.

“We welcome anyone getting out of detention,"she said. An immigration detention center is no place for any person, particularly elderly people, sick people, babies, children.  We welcome any step that gets refugees out of detention. We do not think refugees should be locked up simply for being refugees in the first place.”

McKinsey says they worked with the detained group to fast-track their applications. She says all but two now have been recognized as refugees by the United Nations.

Thailand does not recognize refugees, making everyone without proper documentation subject to arrest and prosecution.

Police Lieutenant General Wiboon Bangthamai is commissioner of the immigration bureau.  While he gave no indication authorities are planning to relax their stringent immigration policy, he indicated the dialogue with activists could help speed up the processing of refugees in detention.

He says, according to the law, if they enter Thailand illegally they must be arrested, but he says Thai authorities will continue to work with human-rights organizations on the issue.

While they are on bail, the Ahmadiyah are being housed in Bangkok until they are resettled to a third country.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More