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Church & Society

April 22, 2019

Catholics fleeing Pakistan celebrate Easter in Bangkok

Easter is a time for celebration, reflection and spiritual revival for Catholics in Bangkok. For Pakistani Christians who call the city their temporary home, the Christian feast is also a time for renewed hopes for deliverance from a life lived in the shadows.

Hundreds of Catholic asylum seekers from Pakistan have been languishing in the Thai capital for years. They arrived here after fleeing persecution in their homeland in the hope of starting a new life elsewhere. In Thailand, however, they are considered illegal immigrants because they lack valid visas and often valid passports as well. They are at risk of being arrested and detained indefinitely.

Their only hope is that they are accepted as refugees by a third country and resettled there. In the meantime, to escape arrest, most Pakistani Christians living in the teeming metropolis spend almost all their time hiding away in small rented rooms where they subsist on donations from local Catholic organizations. Huddling there in fear, they dread knocks on the door in case the authorities come looking for visa over-stayers and illegal immigrants.

At Easter, though, many of them ventured out to attend Mass and celebrations held at the city’s churches. They socialized and prayed with other Christians from around the city.

 

Photos by Tibor Krausz.

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