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Archives (26th November 2015): Who is Tahir?

Some time ago, I promised to you a story of Tahir. Today comes its first part. As things develop, I will keep on writing more about him and his case in the future. This entry is a copy of the letter that I sent to the Chancery of the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland.

“Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing to you asking you for a grand favour. Although I am aware that the case that I am going to introduce to you is very difficult, if not impossible to solve, I have decided to present it to you hoping that my message will prompt a kind reaction that will allow for a happy finalisation of the struggle.

For last 12 months, I have lived in Bangkok, where I work for one of the international organisations that deal with humanitarian aid. Before arriving to this city, for many years I had worked in various parts of Africa, but also Afghanistan, Pakistan or Myanmar, where I tried serving the needs of victims of natural catastrophes, wars and conflicts.

As soon as I arrived to Thailand, by pure coincident, I met Mr. Tahir Rana - a young Pakistani, currently living in Bangkok. Tahir is a member of the religious group called Ahmadyyia, whose members in Pakistan are a subject of severe persecution based on their traditions and faith.

I got to know Tahir on the street: begging, hungry, and physically exhausted. Our first meeting ended up with my invitation for lunch and with a conversation… Quite extraordinarily, our first meeting turned into an invitation for yet another meal, then another one, and another one… Today, my friendship with Tahir already is one year old. During this time, I have learnt a great deal about his inhumane suffering in Pakistan and here Thailand. It is also during this time, during which, together with my family, we decided that we would like to help Tahir beyond just feeding him.

As this is written, Tahir awaits for having his asylum application processed by UNHCR in Thailand. Although a very fact that he is registered with UNHCR is quite positive, there are little chances that there will be a positive resolution of his situation any time soon. The issue is that as the immigration crisis in the EU intensifies, people who need a real international protection in, for example, Asia do not stand a chance for a quick relocation to third countries. According to the latest information from UNHCR, Tahir is likely to wait for additional 5 - 6 years before any progress is made.

While waiting in Thailand for any resolution is not problematic in itself, the issue is that Thailand is not a signatory of Geneva Convention (parts relating to refugee treatment), and therefore it treats people as Tahir as illegal migrants - even if they can produce valid UNHCR registrations. These legal provisions result in lack of refugees’ protection mechanisms. The migrants are subjected to inhumane treatment from local authorities, and in order to survive need to engage in various risky practices and behaviours (falling prey of slavery work, sale of human organs, prostitutions, etc.). Given that UNHCR has no means to help its beneficiaries, it is easy to comprehend that this situation translates into thousands of human tragedies similar to those that Tahir needs to go through. For more descriptive introduction of Tahir’s situation, please refer to the attached documents.

As I have already written, I would very much like to help Tahir to become independent so that he could start having a productive and fulfilled life. I do not hide that the easiest solution, from my perspective, would be relocating Tahir to Poland. There, I and my family would try to help him adapt and integrate to the life in the country, to help him in finding a job and find his place in the society.

In order to facilitate Tahir’s journey to Poland, on 9th October we applied for an entry visa to the country. The application was submitted to the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Bangkok. The idea was that Tahir would travel to Warsaw and ask for an asylum, or adequate protection there. We were able to meet all of Tahir’s costs relating to his trip and stay in the country (many people offered to extent their financial and logistical help) and I was ready to commit that I would meet all costs relating to his deportation from Poland, in case his application for the protection is unsuccessful. Unfortunately and to our big disappointment his application for an entry visa was not allowed to be submitted. The official in the Consulate argued that he was unable to deal with his application, given that Tahir is an illegal alien in Thailand, thus eligible to ask for a visa to Poland in Bangkok.

After the unsuccessful attempt in the Consulate of Poland, together with some of my Australian friends, we decided to investigate an option of relocating Tahir to Australia. As this is written, we are in the middle of preparing his application for an Australian humanitarian visa. Despite a fact that we will do all in our power to prepare some good quality arguments, we are aware that his chances of success are slim.

Despite our lack of success and constant disappointments, I do believe that we will be able to find a solution to his dramatic situation, even in the time, when there is so much of apprehension deriving from fears of refugees. Tahir is a young, genuine and hard working person, who happens to be in the seemingly hopeless situation; a person who is rejected and hated because of his religion and his background back at home (in Pakistan), and a person who has no opportunities to support himself and lead a normal life here in Thailand.

I am fully aware that helping Tahir is not going to ‘save the world’, and I know that there are thousands of people that have similar (and worse) problems. It is all true. However, it is also true that for whatever reason, I got to know Tahir, and that I got challenged to face his suffering. It did happen and I am now unable to look away…

This is precisely why, I decided to write to you, and ask you kindly for your support in front of relevant authorities, so that it becomes possible to start the procedure of granting Tahir the protection in Poland. As I mentioned, together with my family and with my friends we are ready to commit assisting Tahir while in Poland, so that there is no need for use of public funds on his case. It is therefore that I beg you for help, beg you for assistance, as this young life needs support so that it can survive.

I am finishing this long message by underlying that I am ready to provide with any additional information that you may need. In the attachment, I am including numerous information on Tahir himself, but also about the situation of the Ahmadyyia in Pakistan, and indeed the situation of refugees in Thailand.

I would like to thank you in advance for any help and assistance that you are ready to provide.

Kindest regards, Roman Majcher"