LETTER TO S4C: PAKISTANI CHRISTIAN REFUGEE SEEKING ASYLUM
S4C received a letter again from a Pakistani Christian refugee, David. He and his wife now live outside Pakistan with their four children. They had to flee because of an attempt on his life instigated by false blasphemy charges in Pakistan. They now need refugee status which UNHCR is reluctant to give them. We are publishing their story in the hope that by shedding light on their impossible situation they might receive help and proper support. We changed his name for the sake of his and his family’s safety.
My name is David. I am Pakistani Christian and have four children. In my country, I had my own house, car and all the comforts of life. My kids studied in a good convent school and I was a mechanic. I was the owner of a very big service depot where all my clients were happy with me; I was the only Christian in the whole business.
My neighbour workshop’s owner was a Muslim who was always jealous and wanted to close down my workshop. He was unsuccessful. Then he made a plan.
One day, about 7:00 pm all my workers were gone but I was still working. My neighbour called my name very emphatically. I was getting worried to hear him call out my name with such anger – he was shouting: “David Son of a b..ch come out!” Immediately I came out and saw he was not alone; ten or twelve men were with him and they all had sticks in their hands.
They spoke loudly saying: “David infidel, son of a b..ch, look what you have done.” Many people had gathered and they were all Muslims. My neighbour said: “you tore the pages of the Holy Quran and threw them in a dirty place, you are disrespectful of our Holy Quran —we will never leave you alone!” I could not understand anything.
Suddenly, they started hitting me. They did not listen to me but when they were hitting me I heard that some people were saying “beat him a lot,” and some were saying “burn his workshop” while others were saying “kill him who dares to despise our Holy Quran.”
I don’t know how I got away from there, I just know that my GOD helped me.
By that time my wife was seven months pregnant and the doctor had recommended her bed rest because the baby’s position was at its lowest. So when I came to my house I was badly injured, my shirt and my face was covered with blood. When my wife saw me in that condition, she screamed and fainted and fell on the floor.
When my other neighbour heard my wife screaming he came into my house, asked me what happened and took care of my wife. I did not have enough time to explain everything to them so I simply said that I had a fight with some Muslims. After hearing this they too became fearful because they were also Christians. I then went into my house to have a look at my kids: they were sleeping. Then I changed my shirt and washed my face.
When my wife recovered her senses I told her to hurry up and get the kids ready because we would have to leave our house immediately because these people were prepared to kill us. So we got our kids and left our home heading to our friend’s house which was 80 km away from ours.
We thought that after a few days this problem would have ended, but we were wrong. After two days they called me and said: “You b…ard, wherever you go we will find you! We will never leave you in peace, we will kill you all!”
Then I gathered all my family members and told them the whole problem and everybody agreed that we should leave the country. The problem was, we did not have passports because we were living in our country with great comfort so we had never thought about leaving. It was complicated to get the passports as we had to be very cautious not to get caught by those people [that attacked us.] It took us two months to get all the documents ready.
Finally, we arrived to a safe country. When we came we did not know anybody except one man who met us at the airport who was from New Zealand. We told him that this was the first time that we travelled out of the country so he took some money as a commission and helped us to find a place to live.
After two days my wife had pain in her stomach so we rushed her to the hospital. Doctors checked her and the said they had to operate but it was expensive and we could not afford it. So we came back from the hospital to where we lived.
There was another family in that building who also from Pakistan. They told us about UNHCR so next day we submitted our case to UNHCR with my wife’s hospital reports. After a few days they called us and gave us asylum papers and free medical care for my wife. They declared an emergency –we did not know that what the doctor wrote in the reports because they all were in a language unknown for us. They said that my wife and my baby both were in danger and that we had to go to the hospital immediately.
When we arrived at the hospital, doctors took her into the labour room. Her body was very swollen because of internal bleeding so they quickly operated on her and, by the grace of GOD, my daughter was born.
Both my wife and my baby were saved and all hospital bills were paid by UNHCR. We are very thankful to them.
I did not have enough money to feed our kids and pay our house rent. With our savings, we managed to live for only two or three months. After that, I had to find a job, but I could not get [employment] in my own field. I then spoke with my building owner and he helped me by giving me various kinds of jobs and with these, we managed to survive.
Then another tragedy happened. They attacked my brother’s house and asked about my family and me. When my brother and my father refused to tell them anything about me they beat my brother and my father very severely. My father got a heart attack and died.
Two years later I had my second interview with UNHCR seeking refugee status but they refused us – we didn’t understand why. The reason that they gave us was that the man who accused me of blasphemy had only once tried to kill me.
In brief, life is not easy since we became illegal immigrants. We are in great trouble: we have no legal income, no education for the children, no medical care and above all, we fear of arrest and being jailed by Immigration Authorities.