Malaysia forcibly deports Thai asylum seeker who faces grave risk

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Malaysian authorities forcibly returned a Thai asylum seeker to Thailand where she faces likely persecution for her peaceful political activities, Human Rights Watch said today.

Praphan Pipithnamporn, who was registered as an asylum seeker by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was repatriated to Bangkok on 10 May 2019, in violation of Malaysia’s international legal obligations, and detained by Thai authorities.

“Malaysia’s flouting of international law has placed a Thai activist at grave risk of arbitrary detention and an unjust prosecution in Thailand,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Malaysian authorities have an obligation to protect asylum seekers like Praphan from being forcibly returned to the risk of being persecuted for their peaceful political views.”

On 24 April, Malaysian police arrested Praphan at the request of Thai authorities. They sent her back to Thailand based on a Thai arrest warrant issued in January, accusing her of sedition and organised crime for her involvement with the Organisation for Thai Federation, a peaceful anti-monarchy group.

Prior to fleeing to Malaysia, Praphan faced intimidation from Thai authorities. She was arrested several times between September and December 2018 and held in incommunicado military detention.

She told Human Rights Watch the threats intensified after she participated in peaceful anti-monarchy activity during the birthday memorial for the late King Rama IX on 5 December. On that day, she wore a black T-shirt with a logo of her group and handed out leaflets criticising the monarchy in a Bangkok shopping mall.

Fearing for her safety, Praphan fled to Malaysia in January, and applied for refugee status with the UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur. On 2 April, the refugee agency registered her claim as an asylum seeker and designated her a “person of concern”.

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Under customary international law, Malaysia is obligated to ensure that no one is forcibly sent to a place where they would risk being subjected to persecution, torture or other serious human rights violations.

Since the May 2014 military coup, Thai authorities have aggressively pursued anti-monarchy activists who have fled to neighboring countries – particularly those affiliated with the Organisation for Thai Federation, which the Thai government considers an outlaw group. The Thai government has repeatedly demanded that Malaysia and other governments hand over exiled Thai political activists.

Human Rights Watch expressed serious concerns about the safety of those repatriated to Thailand, after three anti-monarchy activists whom Vietnamese authorities returned on 8 May were then forcibly disappeared.

“UN agencies and concerned governments should speak out about the heightened crackdown on dissent and the recent enforced disappearances in Thailand,” Adams said. “Neighbouring countries should not be contributing to Thailand’s increasingly dire human rights situation by sending asylum seekers into harm’s way.”

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Kuldeep Singh Gill
14 May 2019 4.03pm

ZN ?

May Lyn
14 May 2019 3.27pm

“Under customary international law, Malaysia is obligated to ensure that no one is forcibly sent to a place where they would risk being subjected to persecution, torture or other serious human rights violations.” 😡😡😡🤬🤬🤬

Ee Leong Tan
14 May 2019 3.13pm

This is not “repatriation” but refoulement. Refoulement is the act of forcing a refugee or asylum seeker to return to a country or territory where he or she is likely to face persecution, incarceration or worse – death

Karu Muthuvelu
14 May 2019 3.16pm

Why la? Give her a chance to go elsewhere

Elmo Stein
14 May 2019 1.10pm

Because she is poor and Malaysia gov just want to keep rich criminals(?)

Wong Kenny
14 May 2019 1.19pm

Too bad the woman is a non-Muslim. Her luck would have been better if she is a Rohingya muslim.

Ravi Periannan
14 May 2019 12.38pm

You should deport … Zakar Nai to India too. He is a real threat to the harmony of this country. He is an instigator who preaches hatred of other religions..

Tan Ka Lock
14 May 2019 12.20pm

Why deport her maybe a Buddhist instead of the Indian Criminal wanted by the Indian Court.?Is this fair and to gain international respect Mr Minister?

Johnny Hock
14 May 2019 12.08pm

Why Zakia Naik still not deported 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

Saraswaty Muthoo
14 May 2019 12.20pm

Why double standard? Send Zakir out too