My name is Sara Sumbal. My family and I are asylum seekers in Bangkok, Thailand. We fled our home in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2013 when we became victims of persecution after my father, a Christian who was active in sharing his faith, was labeled a blasphemer under the Blasphemy Law for evangelising a Muslim man. My father was initially threatened by two Muslim clerics to stop evangelising or they would kill my father and his family. They then ordered him to convert to Islam and all would be well. When he refused, they and the male members of the Muslim man’s family beat him unconscious and left him for dead on a garbage heap.
After my father’s recovery, the extremists threatened him again with death because he continued holding prayer meetings. Because we were traumatised and terrified, our family fled form Karachi to a friend’s home in the city of Bahawalpur.
The religious extremists, however, have tentacles that extend all over the country and one day two of them confronted my mother and my brother on the street, pointed a gun at them. They said, 'unless you stop preaching your false religion, we will kill you and your family.' My mother screamed in terror and a crowd gathered and the Muslim extremists left. My mother tried to get protection for the family from the police, but they refused. She went to the courts but that resulted in the police now threatening us. The friends who were sheltering us became concerned that they would become targets and asked us to leave. In desperation, we left our home and everything in Pakistan, bought airline tickets and fled to Thailand at the end of 2013.
Upon arrival in Bangkok, my father applied for refugee status as an asylum seeker to the UNHCR. To our utter dismay, we were rejected. When our visitor visas expired, we became illegal residents with no rights - no right to work, receive medical attention, or to go to school. Being illegal, we were susceptible to being picked up off the streets by the immigration police, or to police raids on our homes and being thrown into the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok . For four years we lived in fear and in hiding in a one-bedroom apartment. We did our grocery shopping in fear of arrest by the police or had sympathizers do it for us, while we prayed for deliverance.
Then on July 02, 2017 the Thai Immigration Police raided our apartment and arrested my father, mother and two brothers and threw them into the IDC. I escaped because I was out of the apartment at the time of the raid. The past twenty-two months have been sheer hell for them in jail and for me surviving on my own, outside. I have not seen them since their incarceration but can occasionally talk to them by phone. Conditions in the Immigration Detention Centre are inhumane and deplorable, with overcrowding, one bathroom for a hundred people, not enough room for a person to sleep on the floor. The food is hardly enough to sustain them. Sickness and disease are prevalent. My mother suffers from diabetes with no medical attention. My father has been diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and my brothers are severely depressed. I cannot visit them for fear of being arrested but am able to send in food for their needs through friends who visit for an hour on weekdays.
We are ciurrently working with our supporters, who organsed this crowd funding (Revd Manik Corea and the All Nations Bangkok church/part of the mission organisation NAMS - www.namsnetwork.com) to support the application for their acceptance into Canada under the Private Sponsorship scheme. Because they are in the IDC, their case will be given priority for investigation by the Canadian authorities. We are working with International Christian Voice (ICV - http://internationalchristianvoice.com/icv/) to make the application, and need to help them with their fund-raising efforts.
Please help us and save us from this 'hell' my family is in, and give us a new start in Canada. Thank you.
supported by Revd Manik Corea
And the International Christian Voice.