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Thailand releases Pakistani refugees on bail
05 June 2011
Thai immigration police Monday released on bail 96 Pakistani refugees of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community who had been detained for nearly six months.
“Today is our day of freedom,” said Mehmood, one of the released Pakistanis. “We thank God.”
The group was detained in December after arriving from Pakistan to seek resettlement abroad with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has a regional office in Bangkok.
The group claimed political persecution in Pakistan.
Among those released on bail were 34 children under the age of 12, and one infant who was born while his mother was detained.
Their release was made possible by the Thai Committee for Refugees, a non-governmental organisation that put up a 5-million-baht (166,666-dollar) bond for the refugees, who will be housed in Bangkok while waiting for the UNHCR to process the resettlement applications.
“We are glad to see Thai society rallying to protect refugees, who - having fled persecution in their homelands - are among the most vulnerable people in this country,” said James Lynch, UNHCR’s representative for Thailand.
“The UN refugee agency believes no refugee should be locked up simply for being a refugee,” he added.//DPA