Thailand’s treatment of its vulnerable foreigners is a stain upon its good character

Thailand’s treatment of its vulnerable foreigners is a stain upon its good character

In these turbulent times, the issue of immigration is never far from the top of the political agenda in many countries.  In Thailand, the same holds true. 

However, unlike many countries who seek to provide humane solutions to the plight of refugees, especially those fleeing persecution and threats to life, Thailand has adopted an approach that seems designed to maximise the hopelessness of its refugees.In so doing, has undermined its own commitments to the world community of nations as a member of the United Nations, to which Thailand has bound itself to ‘reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights.’  These human rights are defined in the United Declaration of Human Rights, which includes Article 14.1; “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

The latest harsh action the Thai authorities have taken against Christian Pakistani families, who had fled death threats and violent persecution in Pakistan, was to arrest 150 of them, separating families and placing them in Bangkok’s notorious immigration detention centres in order to forcibly repatriate them back to Pakistan where many will then endure the persecution and risks to life they had fled from. 

Thailand, far from enabling these refugees to find shelter and help, or even a new home elsewhere, has denied to these people all hope of leading a life where they would be free to practice their own religion.

Is it too much to ask that Thailand treat the binding international commitments it had made in joining the United Nations sincerely, rather than with hypocrisy and humbug? 

A Higher Authority than the United Nations

The rulers of Thailand and those responsible for formulating its policy and implementing its strategies should understand that they are human beings and they too will one day have to give account to the Author of Life, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  And in His Law He says the following:

Do not ill-treat or oppress a foreigner [Exodus 22:21, NIV]

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill-treat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. [Leviticus 19:34, NIV]

You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born [Leviticus 24:22, NIV]

Thai authorities may say that the illegals were rounded up because they were late paying the fees Thailand charges.  But Thailand prevents such people to work, so how can they pay?  Compare that with this enlightened refugee policy enacted 3, 500 years ago:

When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. [Leviticus 23:22, NIV]

You may say that Thailand is a Buddhist country, not a Christian country nor is it Israel.  But, as St Paul wrote:

These things happened to them [God’s judgment on the Israelites] as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall![1 Corinthians 10:11-12, NIV]

Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.[Revelation 1:5, NIV]

Jesus Christ also said:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  Therefore, anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.[Matthew 5:17-19, NIV]

Note well – ‘anyone’.

What should Thailand do now?

The military rulers of Thailand have many problems to deal with, not least Islamic terrorism, political instability, economic pressures and many other issues.  Let them ‘taste and see that the Lord is good.’  [Psalm 34:8, NIV] and ‘Fear God and give him glory’ [Revelation 14:7, NIV].  Apply the principles of God’s word and see if the Lord will not pour out a blessing on Thailand.   

The Christians Thailand is oppressing are willing to contribute to the prosperity of the country, if only they were permitted do so.  Give them that opportunity, treat them fairly.  Collaborate with other nations to relocate them if necessary but give them access to the basic resources to build up their livelihoods.

Christians are generally well connected internationally through the churches and can gain skills, resources and knowledge from assisting Christian agencies.  They can then assist in developing the countries in which they make their new homes.  Refugees have no ambition to live at the expense of the state – they want to be useful to it, building it up.

Thailand – please, give them that chance.  Show the world your true colours.  Stop demeaning yourselves with cruelty, and exalt yourselves by doing right, for:-

                ‘Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.’ [Proverbs 14:34, NIV]

 God bless Thailand.  We are praying for you.

Graham Ford
President – Jesus Christ for Muslims