Pakistani Christian refugee dies in Thai detention center

Last month, 35-year-old Pakistani Christian Ijaz Masih passed away after he was refused medical treatment by the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Bangkok, Thailand. Masih was in Bangkok with his wife and three children seeking international refugee protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


(Photo from British Christian Pakistani Association)

According to reports, Masih had been complaining of chest pain, then died of a heart attack just a few hours later. Just a few months prior, he had suffered a stroke due to the stress of being detained and the stress that comes with seeking refugee protection. Masih was apparently detained for more than a year for an illegal entry charge. His case had been rejected by the UNHCR just the day before.

Masih is not the first to die while detained at the IDC. At least two others have died in recent years due to negligence by the IDC. Multiple reports have called on the Thai government to improve the conditions of the detention facility, but none have been made.

Individuals who are detained face crowded cells, horrible unsanitary conditions, diseases, and poor ventilation. In addition, the authorities do not hesitate to detain children, which is prohibited by international law signed by the Thai government.

Jubilee Campaign continues to urge the Thai government to improve the conditions of the IDC. Jubilee Campaign has recommended that the Thai government implement alternatives to detention, such as regular police check-in’s. This would not only prevent overcrowding, but would prevent negligence, such as in the case of Ijaz Masih.

In addition, Jubilee Campaign continues to encourage the Thai government to become a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Since the Thai government is not already a signatory, it has no obligation to protect refugees. In Thailand, refugees are denied access to health care, work, and education and are vulnerable to detainment at the IDC.

We have partnered with an organization in Bangkok that assists refugees with housing, food, and education for the children. This organization also visits those detained in the IDC and brings healthy meals, toiletries, and provides visits and communication between those detained and their families. Please consider donating so that we may continue to help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.

Please pray for the Thai government to show these refugees mercy, and to immediately stop the arrests. In addition, please pray for the UNHCR officers to have the wisdom to discern legitimate cases that need to be granted refugee protection.