By Desmond Fernandes
Foreward by Rainer Rothfuss and Wilson Chowdhry
2016 edition -
Desmond Fernandes’ Education, Human Rights Violations in Pakistan and the Scandal involving UNHCR and Christian asylum seekers in Thailand -
The third updated edition of Desmond Fernandes’ book “Education, Human Rights Violations in Pakistan and the Scandal involving UNHCR and Christian asylum seekers in Thailand” in a special low-
This 875 page book will be of immense use to parliamentarians; asylum and refugee rights campaigners and organisations; faith and non-
The book examines the extensive nature of human rights violations in Pakistan; the scandal involving UNHCR's (the United Nations' Refugee Agency's) management and processing policies and practices relating to Pakistani Christian and 'Othered' asylum seekers in Thailand and the context in which Pakistan's educational policy has contributed to the human rights crisis. The controversial role of edu-
Institutional managerial failure of UNHCR-
As the various findings from this book show, UNHCR project and risk management/assessment policies and practices and the regulatory framework, as well as operational guidance used, fall into a wholly unsatisfactory category when considered in a variety of analytical, ethical, professional and human rights contexts. These failings clearly need to be urgently addressed and parliamentarians and human rights organisations and public interest groups need to challenge UNHCR about these hardly inconsequential concerns.
For Dr Rainer Rothfuss, a geopolitical analyst and independent consultant on persecution issues (and Professor of Human Geography at the Institute of Geography at the University of Tübingen from 2009-
“In fact, as Fernandes describes and as I could witness personally in Bangkok, the large bureaucratic apparatus of UNHCR Thailand seems to be completely paralysed when it comes to the assistance of Christian refugees from Pakistan: Once a refugee has registered, he/she has to wait for over four years, under daily threat of detention by Thai immigration police, until his/her case is heard for the first time by UNHCR officers in the refugee status determination interview … Where is the international community to demand from UNHCR proof that there is no discrimination of certain refugee groups? At the end of the day, it is the tax payers’ money on which UNHCR depends. Urban refugees like those Christians from Pakistan have the same needs and should have the same rights” as all in being justly and adequately “treated … and served properly”.
Even as Christian asylum seekers from Pakistan find themselves treated in such a manner by UNHCR, Thailand authorities act just as menacingly. As evidenced most recently on 10th December 2016 by Wilson Chowdhry, Chair of the BPCA: “45 Pakistani Christians were arrested during the early hours of 10th December 2016 at 7am in Thailand (1am GMT). All the asylum seekers had ‘live’ asylum claims with the UNHCR and held ID cards proving their registration. However, the ID cards -
Genocide, Persecution, Gender Discrimination, Torture and Disappearances in Pakistan and Balochistan
Desmond Fernandes' book also extensively documents the genocidal context in which the Baloch, Hazaras, Ahmadi Muslims and 'Others' are being targeted. It details the 'disappearances' and torture that is taking place and the agencies and governments responsible for perpetrating and aiding and abetting such horrors and crimes against humanity. The book's documented findings also support Claudio Fontana's contention that “Pakistan’s blasphemy regulations provide the legal basis for discrimination” and Juan Carlos Pallardel's assessment that the Pakistani law on blasphemy allows for “the indiscriminate persecution of Christians and other minorities”.
Saleh Memon of the Campaign against Criminalising Communities, questions the UK government’s stance concerning Pakistan’s blasphemy laws: “Has the British government done anything about the blasphemy laws? Has it challenged them? If we claim to have an ethical foreign policy, then surely it should be condemned. It seems to me they haven’t taken a stand on that. Given all the evidence in the book, it is concerning that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not recognise the systematic persecution of Christians in Pakistan. It seems there is a deliberate policy of ignoring asylum claims. Our governments do not consider the Geneva Conventions to be important, they don’t abide by the treatment for refugees – therefore, the Pakistan Government can disregard them as well”.
For Dr Shahzavar Karimzadi, Senior Lecturer in Economics, the University of Hertfordshire Business School: “Since the formation of this theocratic Frankenstein colonial state, Pakistan has been marred by endless extreme violence, corruption, religious bigotry and militarism. Desmond’s book is a vivid tale of the effects of this tragic-
Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation also observes that “this is an important book that shines much-
To David Alton, Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool, Independent Cross-
Margaret Owen OBE, founder and Director of Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD), patron of Peace in Kurdistan, member of the UK Bar Human Rights Committee and founding member of the UK NGO CSW Alliance and GAPS-
Questionable UK DFID Aid, Edu-
This updated third edition includes chapters that examine the issue of intolerance and 'hatred' of the 'Other' as taught in school curricula in Pakistan; the politics of educational 'instruction'; the controversies surrounding the use of English and Urdu as mediums of instruction; the marketing of the 'Malala' brand; the pre-
As the findings in this book indicate, English and Urdu as the key mediums of educational instruction continue to be politically utilised by the Pakistan government and planning bodies as well as international aid assistance programmes (inclusive of British governmental ones – i.e. the UK Department for International Development/DFID) to advance nation-
This book is being presented and has been accepted as a formal submission to the Commons Select Committee International Development Committee that in the summer of 2016 invited written submissions into all aspects of DFID’s work on education. The findings in this book have a bearing on the following areas in particular, which the Inquiry expressed its interest in:
Is DFID’s education funding being targeted appropriately? How effective are its interventions through multilateral organisations (e.g. Global Partnership for Education, the World Bank), implementing partners, centrally managed programmes and direct support to government education budgets?
How can DFID best support efforts to secure [meaningful] access to primary education for the most marginalised children, including getting the 59 million out-
Should DFID support low-
How can DFID most effectively support efforts to increase learning outcomes, particularly ensuring that those children in school are gaining proficiency in literacy and numeracy?
Should DFID be doing more to support countries in developing more effective education systems, including high quality teacher education and leadership training?
How can [DFID] support efforts to ensure that the growing youth population in many of its bilateral partner countries are given the life skills they need?
How best can DFID support efforts to eliminate inequalities in access and quality of education on the basis of gender, disability, indigeneity, and for children in vulnerable situations, including emergencies?
The findings presented in this book suggest that:
DFID’s education funding is not being targeted appropriately or effectively in Pakistan (and the questions raised by the Pakistan example can be extended to other countries to stimulate further appropriate debates) insofar as English as a medium of instruction at primary level continues to be promoted substantially via DFID funded initiatives, be they through through multilateral organisations, implementing partners, centrally managed programmes and direct support to government education budgets aimed at promoting these outcomes.
DFID can best support efforts to secure meaningful access to primary education for the most marginalised primary school children in Pakistan (and the questions raised by the Pakistan example can be extended to other countries to stimulate further appropriate debates) by changing the medium of instruction from English (as a foreign language) to their mother-
DFID's support for low-
Flawed UK Home Office Asylum Guidance
This updated third edition additionally details the manner in which earlier editions of the book stimulated UK parliamentary debates and a commitment by the UK Home Office to reconsider its 'Country Information Guidance' (CIG) regarding Pakistani Christians. It critiques the UK Home Office's and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's subsequently revised 2016 Pakistan 'Country Information Guidance' and concludes that urgent revisions still need to be made if persecuted Christians and 'Others' are to be recognised, as such.
The UK's Home Office's updated May 2016 'Country Information Guidance' remains dangerously and unacceptably flawed – to a level (as documented in this book) that needs to be critically and urgently challenged by concerned parliamentarians, public interest groups, human rights and educational bodies and concerned members of the public.
Key information and evidence regarding the persecution of Christians and 'Others' from Pakistan is clearly being ignored by the Home and Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The ramifications of this are all too obvious: Most Christians applying for asylum in the UK, having fled from persecution, will continue to be categorised as 'bogus'/'illegal' asylum seekers. The UNHCR's offices in Thailand and elsewhere, substantively influenced as they are in their deliberations regarding asylum and refugee status by the UK Home Office's Country Information Guidance (CIG) relating to Christians in Pakistan will continue to not recognise the persecuted status of most Christians from Pakistan. Several other immigration authorities in other countries will also refer to UK Home Office CIG guidance to arrive at their flawed determinations which result in refugee status being denied to desperate Christians fleeing from Pakistan for their lives.
This is despite the fact that “Pakistan is on record as having one of the world's worst and most widely abused blasphemy laws, which has resulted in abuse of the law through false accusations that prosper under a system of impunity … Blasphemy accusations have resulted not only in the destruction of the lives of the accused but have often been at the root of the destruction of entire Christian communities”, reported Tiffany Barrans, international legal director for the American Centre for Law & Justice, in November 2015.
The highly controversial assessments by the UK Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth Office come at a time when Christians are being subjected to persecution in Pakistan at levels which have arguably never been more extreme as they are now, under the present government.
Dr. Nazir S Bhatti, President of the Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC) has commented that this book “on persecution of Pakistani Christians prepared by the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) is eye opening and can be evidence to revise guidance by the UK Administration. 'There have been incidents of attacks on Churches and worshippers, broad day light murders of Christians, lynching of Christian children, women, men and elders and attacks on Christian properties on a pretext to blasphemy laws by Muslim fundamentalists and a failure of government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to protect Christians lives and properties or to ensure justice but it is unfortunate that Great Britain [does] not takes it as victimization, persecution and oppression' ... The PCC Central Secretariat in its press note stated that the President of Pakistan Christian Congress ... ha[d] written a letter to Prime Minister ... for a revision of guidance by the UK Home Office about Pakistani Christians, to recognize them as a persecuted and oppressed community of Pakistan”.
'Deep Politics' and the use of asylum seekers as 'bargaining chips' in UK and EU international aid, trade and 'migration' agreements
This updated third edition also extensively documents the manner in which several targeted 'Othered' groups in Pakistan (and not only Christians) are being subjected to persecution of the most intense kind (reaching levels of genocide, in many cases). As western states (including the US/UK) continue to arm and often diplomatically deflect criticism of the Pakistan government's human rights record, asylum seekers from Pakistan are increasingly being processed questionably by governmental and supra-
As the book details, asylum seekers and refugees from Pakistan and Balochistan find themselves being used as 'bargaining chips' by governments and EU decision makers in cynical 'war on terror', international trade, 'migration' and 'aid' deals.
'Deep politics' – i.e. publicly unaccountable and often covert decision making processes by governmental, EU and other bodies and political circles – and institutional discriminatory practices often determine the scandalously high rejection rates of Pakistan asylum seekers, as the findings in this book show. Pakistani asylum seekers, indeed, are often being processed without due process, without even proper verification and often under the pretext of being 'Othered' as 'terrorists' (again, reportedly without any appropriate verification or evidence to that effect).
Asylum seekers from Pakistan, as the book documents, have sought to legally question these EU targeting and 'deep political' mechanisms that are in place even as parliamentarians, lawyers and human rights campaigners have concluded that the EU-
Concerned lawyers, public interest groups, parliamentarians and anti-
Are concerned parliamentarians and refugee/asylum rights campaigners aware that EASO’s Country of Origin Information Report: Pakistan Country Overview report – controversially co-
Concerned lawyers and parliamentarians and anti-
As Colin Yeo noted on 21st March 2016 in an article entitled ‘New EU task force to impose common asylum standards’:
An interesting set of draft Council conclusions on convergence in asylum decision practices obtained by Statewatch sets out a roadmap towards greater consistency in asylum decision making. There is a lot of work to do on this front ... The first step agreed is use of common country of origin information (COI), followed by common policy positions on key countries. One of the agreements is to the creation of:
The senior level policy network will interpret these reports and deliver guidance notes to Member States for making “case-
In 'deep political' terms, as Colin Yeo concludes:
It sounds a lot like EASO is being commandeered by whoever is appointed to this “senior-
EASO is now being tasked with doing more country reports, so we can expect more of this in future.
Significance and relevance of the book to parliamentarians, campaigners, public interest groups and concerned members of the public
A copy of the book has been given to every member of the UK parliament, every member of the Senate and parliament in Australia, several senior UNHCR officers and campaigners/campaign organisations in Pakistan and internationally, community and faith/non-
In terms of the value and relevance of Desmond Fernandes' book, David Alton, Professor the Lord Alton of Liverpool, Independent Cross-
I think it is very important when dealing with governments, dealing with parliamentarians, that you have empirically based evidence and I think the book you have produced [in its third updated edition now], because it's so systematically collated and very well presented with a lot of academic basis to what you've done, it makes it much easier for people like Jim [Shannon MP, Chair of the All-
We have a minister [Lord Bates, the new House of Lords Minister at DFID] there now who I think will be more open than maybe some of his predecessors have been to these arguments. So here is an opportunity to use your book to persist with these kinds of representations and Jim and I will be very happy to go and see him and make representations about that.
At the book launch, the following sentiments were expressed:
● Eric Abetz, the Liberal Senator for Tasmania and Former Government Leader of the Australian Senate:
When many in the world seek to avoid the atrocities, the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) has collaborated with experts and hard evidence to highlight and bring to the attention of the world the particular atrocities occurring daily if not hourly in Pakistan – which has the unenviable distinction of being in the top of the leagues table for persecuting Christians and other minorities.
The world’s indifference – especially the English speaking world’s indifference – is scandalous. Our indifference must end. Not only must it end, all of us individually need to be making the difference. If th[is] most recent work of the BPCA does not motivate us to be in the vanguard for making a difference, nothing ever will.
It should be noted that Senator Abetz in Australia, after being presented with the book and its findings and speaking with Wilson Chowdhy, Chair of the BPCA, about the nature of the desperate situation facing Christian asylum seekers from Pakistan, raised a Question to the Senate House on 12th October 2016. A transcript is provided below:
Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (13:58): In the few minutes available, I thought I would raise the plight of persecuted Christians in Pakistan. Earlier today, I had the opportunity of meeting with the Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian alliance in my office and then introduced him to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protect, the Hon. Peter Dutton.
The plight of Christians in Pakistan is great. In relation to the register of countries that persecute Christians, Pakistan is at six—equal with countries such as Syria. I think that highlights the plight that they face … It is a tragedy that is unfolding and continuing in Pakistan.
We as a nation give well over $40 million — I am not sure if it is $47 million or $49 million — worth of foreign aid to Pakistan. I believe we ought to be saying to the Pakistani government: 'If you want to be the beneficiary of this sort of aid, then you do need to protect the minorities within your country'.
I have also invited the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon. Peter Dutton, to consider what we can do to assist the Pakistanis who are being persecuted in Pakistan and also those who are living in Thailand, with asylum cards, to rehouse them and to provide a new home for them in Australia. It is a plight that I think everybody in this chamber and this nation should be aware of. It goes right through the spectrum of society — Christian lawyers right down to Christian brick-
Senator Abetz subsequently called on the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Honorable Peter Dutton to look at the issue of Pakistani Christians, including those suffering in Thailand. As a result, in a meeting with Mr Chowdhry, Minister Dutton agreed in principle to accept 100 Pakistani Christians into the country, using the new pilot ‘Community Proposal’ programme. This was done with support from Senator Abetz, MP Andrew Hastie, Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton and MP Kevin Andrews.
Mr Andrew Hastie was also presented with the book by Wilson Chowdhry, Chair of the BPCA, and after discussions with him over the situation facing blasphemy victims, Mr Hastie also raised a question about the plight of blasphemy case victim Asia Bibi (the 90 second statement can be seen at: http://www.britishpakistanichristians.org/blog/100-
● Mosa Zahed, Executive Director of Middle East Forum for Development:
Middle East Forum for Development commends and unreservedly supports today’s important event which essentially aims to improve the human rights of minorities in Pakistan, who continue to be persecuted by the authorities. We would like to extend our congratulations to Desmond Fernandes who effectively shed light through his comprehensive book on the dire circumstances and grim outlook of Pakistan’s ethnic and religious minorities.
Our organisation has in the recent past, in cooperation with Desmond Fernandes and the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), organised various special hearings in the Dutch House of Representatives on minorities in Pakistan and played a significant role in promoting legislation that makes it easier for Pakistani Christians, who have fled their country fearing oppression and discrimination due to their religious belief, to obtain asylum in The Netherlands. Our joint endeavours ultimately altered the asylum policy of the Dutch government vis-
Today, we join the BPCA and Desmond Fernandes in their call for the Home Office and the EU to acknowledge the persecution status of Pakistani Christians in order to guarantee their protection.
● Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA):
Reports such as these that rely on empirical data are the most effective tool in a humanitarian NGO’s arsenal. We at the BPCA hope the British Government, especially the Home Office department, reviews our findings and applies this to future policies relating to Pakistani minorities. Their current positioning places Christians and other minorities in great danger and many experts believe the risk profile of the Pak-
The commitment Desmond Fernandes has shown towards helping so many persecuted minority groups outside of any personal bias … [is] commendable. I pray now that other politicians heed this challenge and a decision is made to agree stronger terms for foreign aid funding to Pakistan linked to improvement in human rights in the country. Moreover, it is about time Britain improved asylum opportunity for Christians and other minorities fleeing Pakistan.
● Margaret Owen OBE, founder and Director of Widows for Peace through Democracy (WPD), Patron of Peace in Kurdistan, Member of the UK Bar Human Rights Committee and founding member of the UK NGO CSW Alliance and GAPS –UK:
With the appalling human rights violations that are going on in Pakistan and also in the context of the terrible situation which Lord Alton has described concerning those people in Thailand who are at risk of being deported back to Pakistan and who are living in such appalling conditions, thank you very much … for your incredible persistence and courage in actually producing what Lord Alton said is so important: the empirical evidence ... Thank you very much because you go on and you will go on writing and informing … every MP we have in this country, everywhere we can, to try and get justice and to try and get compliance with international laws.
● Saleh Memon, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities:
I just wanted to say that Desmond has been a long term supporter of CAMPACC (the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities) and he has done a lot of work on Kurds as well and also the Armenian genocide. We really welcome this book. It is a very powerful book. When you look at the book, the tone of the book is not ivory tower, an academic book up there, it's a practical book. Kind of pushes forward and puts something on a political agenda, marshalling evidence, quoting the research.
That is the fundamental thing about Desmond’s book. It is an instrument and a weapon for action. Asking people to take action as well. Now I think it is also quite moving, really, that the book is dedicated to Asia Bibi and also people, all those who have suffered.
● Ranbir Singh, Chair of the Hindu Human Rights Group:
This book by Desmond Fernandes, looking at the educational system of Pakistan and the refugee crisis emanating from that country, sheds light on areas that have been neglected, brushed aside or ignored. What should be an unambiguous situation of gross human rights violations has once again become subject to the pressure of political convenience, spin and propaganda.
The case of Malala Yousafzai is well known. For daring to criticise the Taliban and their attempts to stop education of girls, Malala was shot in the head by the Tehreek-
The fact that she has become an advertising brick in the behemoth of big business should not be surprising when we look at how raw commercialisation has become the norm, the yardstick against which everything is measured …
Syria and Iraq may have closer proximity to Europe, and presently be demographically impacting upon long time NATO ally and EU hopeful Turkey. But Pakistan has also been a long term ally of western democracies. As has Thailand, home to thousands of undocumented Pakistani Christian refugees caged like animals.
Pakistan and Thailand were once members of the defunct SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation) in the west's frontline against communist expansion. This meant aid, including military aid. How a country conducts its own affairs is held to be its own concern. Yet can such as state really shrug off outside scrutiny when it receives so much in aid? … These questions will become more pertinent as ISIS and similar groups fracture and splinter, leading to even more grotesque forms of persecution, terrorism and conflict.
What happened in Syria and Iraq was just a better covered and more dramatic turn of events to what has been happening in Pakistan. What has been described in Desmond Fernandes' book as slow genocide by drip effect is now accelerating into full scale demographic catastrophe.
At the same time, the government is keen to keep to its election pledge of keeping down net migration. Refugees are seen as sleeper cells for terrorist groups such as ISIS. Ironically, the refugees from Pakistan are trying to flee that very terrorism in the first place. While the refugees are seen as the 'problem', there appears to be no problem in selling arms and military equipment to this most dependable western ally. This, in turn, is used either directly against the 'minorities' such as the Baloch, or finds its way into the hands of terrorists – the line not always being so clear cut.
Once again, human rights and democracy play second fiddle to that all important arms deal and the 'moderating' influence it brings on oppressive regimes.
We all know of Malala. Unlike Malala, Guddi Bheel never had the same iconic status. Aged nine when in May of this year she was found murdered in Khipro City, District Sanghar, Sindh. Because the accused was the son of the powerful local police officer, nothing was done. A few days later, another minor Hindu girl, Durshana Bai, aged 9 years, was raped and murdered by unknown person at Umarkot city, Sindh.
When the impoverished landless, largely Dalit tenants, are Hindus, ... inconvenient questions over murder, rape, abduction and forcible conversion are not asked. Such victims have not made good brand icons.
In working with Desmond Fernandes, Wilson Chowdry and others, it is heartening to see so many different people come together in furthering the cause of human rights, to help those less fortunate than ourselves, in ensuring that their voices are heard. Yet, one question is always asked. Where are the Hindu organisations in all this?
HHR (Hindu Human Rights) group was set up to highlight the persecution, discrimination and marginalisation faced by Hindus worldwide. During the last sixteen years of its existence, HHR has had the honour of working with many other organisations. This has been most notable with the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) over many years, at its meetings and protests. HHR also attended the three day workshop on religion and human rights at the invitation of the Al-
Through work related to Pakistan, HHR has gained invaluable information from the Pakistan Hindu Seva of Sanjesh Dhanja, the Scheduled Caste Movement and Hare Ram Foundation of Ramesh Jaipal, as well as highlighting the work in the Delhi refugee camps by Prakash Jha and Anuradha Mishra and their first-
Yet, none of these have become icons or brands. Indeed, had it not been for the work pioneered by the BPCA and others, their help for those suffering persecution may never have been known to a wider audience. Again, why is this? … Indeed, the issue of human rights [for many Hindu organisations] plays a subservient role, indeed very subservient role, to that once again of commercial interests and what has commercial viability …
While belonging to any said 'community' may help, what matters more is knowledge and dedication to the subject. Desmond Fernandes is neither Kurdish nor Armenian and yet has written and campaigned with respect to the genocide suffered by those respective communities. It was Wilson Chowdhry, a Christian, who has brought issues of Hindus and other persecuted minorities in Pakistan to the fore. Peter Tatchell began his human rights work in support of Indigenous Australians, impoverished and at one point even denied the vote in their ancestral land. It is this which moves us beyond any 'brand' and transcends the need for any commercial 'viability'.
While my focus has been on the human rights for Hindus, ultimately these can only be guaranteed in the wider framework of dignity and respect for all, an environment where there are checks and balances on power.
To achieve that is what brings us here today as we strive to achieve that. It will be the best mechanism of serving justice to the tragically short lives of Guddi Bheel and Durshana Bai.
Notes about the publisher: The British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) is a human rights advocacy group, set up in the wake of the Gojra massacre of Christians in 2009 to raise the profile of the persecution of Christians and 'Other' minority groups in Pakistan, as well as support those claiming asylum in the UK and elsewhere. British Pakistani Christian Association is a trading name for British Pakistani Christians Ltd., a charity that has been entered onto the Register of Charities.
Author: Desmond Fernandes is a genocide scholar, joint-
Formerly a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and genocide studies at De Montfort University (UK), he is a member of the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) and Peace in Kurdistan (PiK) and is an Advisory Council member of the European Union-
Foreword by Dr Rainer Rothfuss (geopolitical analyst, independent consultant on persecution issues and Professor of Human Geography at the Institute of Geography at the University of Tübingen, 2009-
PURCHASE THE BOOK AT THE SPECIAL REDUCED PRICE OF £5!
You can purchase this Updated 3rd edition, 2016 (ISBN: 978 – 0 – 9926880 – 4 – 2) at the specially reduced purchase price of UK £5 by clicking onto the following link: