Thailand: 'My destination is peace'
18 August 2011

Sadi lives in Bangkok with his wife and children, along with many more Ahmadi Muslim people from Pakistan, fleeing persecution and waiting for resettlement.
In urdu, we have a saying. “The other word for ‘life’ is ‘problems.’” It gives the impression that problems are always mingled with life and everybody has to face them.
Bangkok, 18 August 2011 – My name is Sadi. I’m from Pakistan. I’m an Ahmadi Muslim and I’m an asylum seeker. I’m in Bangkok with my wife and two kids for 16 months.

Pakistan’s been fighting Islamist militants for years and religious intolerance is getting worse day by day. The religious extremism and fanaticism has deeply entrenched in the Muslim country. 

Ahmadiya community is suffering persecution and discrimination for a long time in Pakistan. In 1974, Pakistan’s first popularly elected prime-minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, bowed to Islamic groups and won approval of a constitutional amendment declaring Ahmadis as non-Muslims. 

From that very day we Ahmadis are deemed as non-Muslims in Pakistan. The worst thing happened in 1984, when ex-president of Pakistan, military leader Gen Zia-ul-Haq amended that anti-Ahmadiyya law and introduced the notorious Blasphemy Law, especially for Ahmadis, which is a total discrimination for all non-Muslim minorities in Pakistan. This law fuelled tensions in between Muslims and the religious fanatics started using the law against innocent Ahmadis. 

Persecuted, prosecuted, imprisoned

Hatred was propagated against Ahmadis by Mullas (religious doctors) by delivering hate speeches and distributing hate literature. Ahmadis were persecuted, prosecuted, imprisoned, faced death penalties and murdered. Ahmadi houses were set on fire, shops were looted and we faced discrimination in our professional careers just because of our religious belief. We were not even allowed to recite the pillar of Islamic belief, a phrase said constantly by Muslims and written on schools, in homes and in shops, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammed (peace be upon him) is the Messenger.” 

The Ahmadiyya history is full of such incidents mentioned above but the latest incident of massacre happened in the city of Lahore of more than 90 Ahmadis in May 2010, when two of the Ahmadi mosques were attacked at the same time by the religious extremists. The popular English-language newspaper, News, said that one of the two surviving gunmen caught said he had been persuaded that Ahmadis were “blaspheming Islam” and “their blood-shed was a great service to Islam.” The newspaper Dawn told the story of 500 affected Ahmadi families in the southern Punjab (Pakistan) by the flood who denied of any shelter, food and other help of any kind by the government, because a local Mulla gave a “fatwa”(religious declaration by a religious doctor) that no one should help Ahmadis. 

Such is the level of hatred propagated against Ahmadis in Pakistan. I also had to face such kind of persecution and hatred when I was forced to change my belief and convert to a Sunni Muslim. Although I’m a Muslim, they still tried to force me to change my religious thoughts according to the religious fanatics beliefs. 

I said no and had to pay the price. I was beaten, abused, threatened, harassed and they told me of their plans to assassinate me. 

In the end a case was filed against me on a false accusation of preaching of the same notorious anti-Ahmadiya law mentioned above. Such is the level of injustice we Ahmadis have to face at the hands of religious fanatics, the police, the judiciary and the government in Pakistan. 

It might be amazing to know that the textbooks used in the schooling system tell that Pakistan is a country made for Muslims only. It is being taught to the young minds that there is no place for non-Muslims to live their lives, though countries are made for humans not for the sectarians. 

Now, when I’m here in Thailand, sometimes I think that I was prosecuted in my native country and if I had been in Pakistan, I must had been convicted and end up in prison for minimum of three years for blasphemy charges. Sometimes I imagine myself being in the prison and think like that I have dangers to my life in the prison as well, from the religious extremist organizations and individuals. This kind of imagination is supported by a report by Bangkok Post, which tells that a Pakistani Christian who was jailed for Blasphemy law died in the prison and his lawyer said he suspected the man was murdered in the prison. These are unbelievable facts about Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the religious extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Tayeba, Khatm-e-Nabuwat and Jaish-e-Muhammed have defamed Islam and Pakistan all around the world. The word “Islam” means “peace” and the teaching of Islam and our Holy book Quran is totally opposite of what’s going on in Pakistan and it’s amazing that all is happening in the name of Islam and God. If this is the case, this is a murder in the name of God and Islam.

"Life" synonymous with "problems"

In urdu, we have a saying. “The other word for ‘life’ is ‘problems.’” It gives the impression that problems are always mingled with life and everybody has to face them.  Asylum seekers are going through this phase of problems here in Bangkok, considering the fact that we are not allowed to work here according to the Thai law. The biggest question is how to survive, especially when we have families and small kids with us. 

The second problem of asylum seekers here in Bangkok is of Immigration and Police. Thai law doesn’t recognize UNHCR and asylum seekers. We live here at the risk of being caught any time by immigration police and the fear is always there at the back of our minds. As an asylum seeker I must suggest that there must me an agreement in between Thai authorities and the UNHCR, so we can live here without any fear. 

But still I feel thankful to Thailand and UNHCR, because if we are safe and still alive, it is because of them. 

I’m worried about the future of my kids (both boys 6 and 4 years of age), because it’s the prime time for their studies and they are not studying here but I’m hopeful that this phase will end up soon and we will reach to our destination, soon. My destination is “peace”, I want to live anywhere in this world where I’ve no threats to my life from the government, organizations or individuals, where  I have freedom of thought and speech, where my kids can study and where I can live with peace and love. I’m hopeful.