Tuesday the 12th - INTERNATIONAL CHRISTIAN VOICE - Free Joomla 3.2 Templates

APRIL 30- MAY 15, 2018

International Christian Voice is committed to highlighting the plight of persecuted, marginalized,

IMG 0218 and vulnerable religious minorities in Pakistan.

In pursuance of our goal to successfully bring to Canada our most recently sponsored refugee family - for whom our community and friends have so generously donated to meet their financial obligations - it became necessary to visit Pakistan and Thailand to assess firsthand the difficulties from which this family and others are suffering. Further, it is important for ICV to educate and bring awareness to asylum seekers on how to properly apply for Canadian immigration under Canada's Private Sponsorship Program and other programs.During the sponsorship process, ICV encountered a serious roadblock when the office of the UNHCR did not accept the application for our sponsored family, claiming that since the husband died in Thailand, his wife and children were no longer in danger in Pakistan and hence should go back to Pakistan.

IMG 0331Due to these circumstances and other growing issues, ICV Chairman Peter Bhatti made a two-week mission trip to Pakistan, Thailand and Malaysia to personally assess the asylum seekers' current situation. Below is a brief overview of his visit.


While in Thailand, Mr. Bhatti met with more than 50 Pakistani Christian families in the Bangkok area who were victims of religious intolerance and extremism Pakistan. To save their lives, they fled to Thailand due to easy access to seek asylum. Most of the families living there now have been seeking asylum for more than four years.
The condition of these families is comparable to the treatment suffered by criminal prisoners.
These families have applied for refugee status through the UNHCR, but most families are forced to wait unreasonably lengthily periods just to learn that their case has been refused or closed. Mr. Bhatti had that opportunity to visit widows and orphaned children who are suffering most severely and have no one to help them. They do not have sufficient food, access to medical treatment, or medicine to maintain good health; children are not going to school and are missing out on their education; men are unable to work legally; and a constant fear presides over every family of being raided and detained by immigration police.
In immigration detention centers, cells are extremely overcrowded and uncomfortable. A lack of proper air conditioning, appropriate hygienic practices, medical treatment, and proper nutrition breeds different sicknesses and diseases within the centre. Many inside the detention centre develop serious health issues that have led to numerous individuals succumbing to this disease-ridden environment.

To tackle the very serious issues facing these helpless asylum seekers, Mr. Bhatti met with members of the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok to share the critical situation of Pakistani Christians in Thailand. Embassy staff were attentive to the concerns and requests that were raised and following a productive meeting, promised to investigate the situation, specifically with regards to detention centres. ICV also provided financial assistance to the most deserving individuals and families such as widows with young children and those suffering from sicknesses or severe injuries to ease their burden.

During his visit to Thailand, Mr. Bhatti also had the opportunity to meet with the Director of CARITAS, Bangkok, and board members from the Roman Catholic Church who are already doing humanitarian work among asylum seekers and agreed to work in partnership with ICV to help Pakistan Christian asylum seekers in Thailand.
From Thailand, Mr. Bhatti made a one-day trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There, he met with a young lady and her family who were originally from Quetta, Pakistan, This family, which was forced to flee from Quetta because of their religious affiliation, has been facing the same intolerance and discrimination in Malaysia that they fled from Pakistan. Mr. Bhatti spent much of his time comforting the family and assuring them that ICV, in partnership with a U.S. based church, will work towards sponsoring them to come to Canada where they can start their lives a new.

IMG 0453Due to a lack of time, Mr. Bhatti was unable to visit all the Pakistani Christians families in their individual homes, but nearly 40 people gathered for a meeting where he heard their concerns. After hearing more information about the Private Sponsorship Program through which ICV could better assist these families, they gained hope of one day leaving their destitute situation in Malaysia.



In Pakistan, Mr. Bhatti was able to meet the Catholic Bishop of Hyderabad Most Rev. Bishop Samson Shukardin, retired Bishop Max and Bishop of Lahore, Most Rev. Bishop Sebastian Shah. They shared their concerns about growing extremism and intolerance in Pakistan and expressed the difficulties they face in trying to spread the Word of God to Christians in Pakistan. However, they committed to remain firm to their mission of spreading the Gospel.
In Karachi, Hyderabad, Lahore, Faisalabad, Gojra, and Samundri. Mr. Bhatti met with several families in small Christian colonies and found out how Christians continue to live under fear of being falsely accused under the country's Blasphemy Law. One accusation can cause an entire community to suffer from backlash and negative consequences, making day to day life in these  colonies very difficult.

ADOT2899In Lahore, he met with the 3 young children of Shama and Shahzad, a young couple that was burnt alive in a brick kiln furnace by a local mob because of a false accusation under the Blasphemy Law. The children's' grandfather is now looking after them and is constantly living in fear because his children's killers are in prison and their families are pressurising him to withdraw the case against them.

Mr. Bhatti also had the chance to meet with the parents of Patras Masih, a man who was falsely accused of blasphemy earlier this year and faced despicable treatment at the hands of Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency. Patras was forced into sexually assaulting his cousin Sajid Masih, who was also detained with him. Sajid Masih jumped out the Agency's building window to end the torment and was seriously injured. His family expressed their distress at the situation their son had to endure and explained that they continue living in fear of their lives as Christians.
ICV Chairman's visit concluded with a visit to the grave of Martyr Shahbaz Bhatti.

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Exclusive footage of Shahbaz Bhatti\'s interview

Sara Sumbal needs your help

Sara’s Story

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 evangelist, 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 him 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. 

          Sara with her family prior to their detention

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.


Backgrounder - Diefenbaker Award and Recipients Shahbaz Bhatti

Shahbaz Bhatti was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2008 and named Federal Minister for Minorities a portfolio he accepted because of the opportunity it offered to defend the oppressed and marginalized of Pakistan.