Enabling Ordinary People to
Transform the Lives of Urban Refugees

7 Things You Should Know About the Re-Persecuted

Posted by on Nov 21, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

1. Who they are

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The re-persecuted are refugees who flee their home countries, usually because of their religious beliefs.  They escape the persecution in their home countries, only to be persecuted again when they arrive in Thailand.

 

2. Why they come to Thailand

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For many refugees, Thailand is the quickest, easiest country to escape to. Additionally, the United Nations Refugee office is there. After a long process, there’s the possibility that United Nations could give refugees official status. After the refugees receive this status, the United Nations will try to find a new country that they can move to permanently.

 

3. What happens when they get to Thailand

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Most refugees arrive in Thailand on a 60-day tourist visa. As soon as the visa expires, Thai immigration police hunt them down, and will throw entire families into a terrible, filthy, prison. So families live in the shadows, forced into begging, or worse, to survive.

 

4. Why Thai Police Hunt Them Down

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Unlike most countries in the world (including all Western countries),  Thailand does not offer any protection for refugees. Instead, they hunt down refugees and throw entire families in prison.

 

5. For the re-persecuted, life in Bangkok can feel like a nightmare 

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They don’t speak the native language, and are forbidden from working. It is almost impossible for their kids to enter school. They may go days without eating, and always teeter on the brink of homelessness. Any time they step outside their home, they risk arrest. Police will even raid apartments, so any knock on the door could mean that an entire family will be sent to prison.

 

6. It’s especially terrible for kids

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In the few years that they have been alive, refugee children face more hate than many of us will in a lifetime. In Bangkok, they are stuck in tiny apartments all day, unable to run and play outside. Moreover, it is almost impossible for them to go to school, so they may go years without formal education.

 

7. There is hope

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Light shines brightest in the darkness. In the absence of any government help, churches in Bangkok are rising up to help the re-persecuted. Life Raft partners with these churches to provide food, shelter and education to the re-persecuted. You can read more about these efforts here: http://liferaftinternational.org/blog/how-refugees-conquer-fear-through-education

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Why I Want to Go to Prison

Posted by on Sep 25, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Prison hands 2(This post was written by Chris Woodruff, our executive director)

This summer, while I was visiting Bangkok, I found myself in a dimly lit prison, looking through the holes of a chain link fence.

I was there because my presence allowed for me to request that Vee come out of his cage for an hour, meet in a common area, and receive, food, water, and toiletries from me.

I watched as Vee walked out into the common area, head hung low. There, he met his wife, Mae, who my wife had been able to call out. They stood up against the fence together, politely trying to make conversation with me, though they could hardly speak English.

I stepped back, and signalled to them that this was their time. Their time to see each other, talk to each other, touch each other. As their hands met, she rested her head against his chest, and he whispered something in her ear.

Soon, their time would be up. Prison guards would escort them back to their separate cells, where they would be crammed in so tight with other prisoners that they would have to take turns sleeping. Cells with two holes for toilets, and where violence from prison guards reined. They could only pray they would have visitors again soon, so they could have food and water after what we brought ran out.

Vee and Mae are Hmong refugees from Northern Vietnam who were persecuted for being Christians. Facing death, they fled to Thailand. But Thailand does not recognize the concept of a refugee. So as soon as their visas were expired, Thai police hunted them down and threw them in this prison.

Their only hope to get out is to get official refugee status with the UN, but the UN has rejected them.

But there is hope. Our volunteers are able to visit them on a regular basis, bringing them food, water and toiletries; items that make the prison a little less terrible. Additionally, with the help of a good lawyer, there is hope for them to receive refugee status, and start a new life in a new country.

And that’s where I come in. After I graduate in May, I plan to return to Bangkok, and lead our work full time. I have lots of big dreams: Innovative ideas for education, training, and helping new families. But being able to represent this beautiful couple, help them receive refugee status, and find a new, safe country where they can truly be together, might be the most exciting of them all.

It is in the darkest places that light shines brightest. The more terrible the tomb, the more wonderful the resurrection.

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