Rahaf and Hakeem: Media Covers Thailand’s Mixed Record of Asylum-Seekers and Refugees

2019-01-15 - 12:20 ص

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Radio NPR said that the case of Rahaf Al-Qunun has highlighted Thailand's mixed record when it comes to asylum-seekers and refugees.

In the interview with Michael Sullivan, both of Nadthasiri Bergman and Phil Robertson tackled the case of Bahraini football player, a refugee in Australia, Hakeem Al-Araibi.

Nadthasiri Bergman, Al-Araibi's lawyer in Thailand, said Al-Araibi "was planning to go to Phuket to see a beautiful beach - you know, just take some time off from his football playing in Australia," however "Thai authority told him that because he's wanted from another a country for an alleged crime, he was denied entering into Thailand."

NPR reporter in Asia, Sullivan said that Thailand "Never mind his refugee status in Australia. Never mind the crime he allegedly committed - vandalizing a police station - occurred at the same time he was finishing a live televised soccer match. Never mind his claims he was tortured in Bahrain before fleeing to Australia."

Sullivan reported Robertson saying that the military government that seized power here in 2014 hasn't been shy about doing deals with authoritarian governments to send people back, indicating that "Eighteen-year-old Saudi Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun was headed in that direction before she seized the social media spotlight and created a PR nightmare for the Thai government. But he says others have fared much worse."

For his part, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, shed the light on Thailand's dealing with refugees and asylum-seekers, noting that the past four years were very bad for them.

It is worth mentioning that Hakeem Al-Araibi is still held in Thai prisons. Meanwhile, Thai authorities continue measures to deport him to Bahrain, while Rahaf Al-Qunun was allowed to go to Canada, where she was granted asylum after fleeing her family of fear for her life.

Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne praised Thailand for allowing Rahaf to request asylum in Australia instead of deporting her as was already panned. She also explained that Australia wants to witness the release of Hakeem Al-Araibi.

Arabic Version