BANGKOK, 21 January 2011 (IRIN) –
The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), an umbrella group of some 116 civil society rights organizations, has expressed concern over the plight of 85 detained Pakistani Ahmadi asylum-seekers in Thailand. “We are worried. These people are facing the choice of going back to Pakistan and facing persecution or staying in detention here indefinitely,” Michael Timmins, legal services manager with Asylum Access, told IRIN on 21 January in Bangkok. The Ahmadis have been in detention since their arrest on 14 December 2010. Among them are 30 children, and at least one pregnant woman, the group said. Pakistan’s Ahmadi sect, estimated by international organizations to number between three and four million, has faced discrimination for decades.
While Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim, in 1974 Pakistan declared them “non-Muslims” following a campaign by orthodox Islamic groups that say some of their beliefs run contrary to Islam.
“Thailand [currently president of the human rights council], is in clear violation of the customary international law principle of non-refoulement, requiring that no state expel or return an asylum seeker to a country where his life is threatened,” said Anoop Sukumaran, APRRN coordinator.