PH government’s deportation of Thai national at risk of persecution is similar to the BN regime’s methods
14 May 2019
On 10 May 2019, Malaysia deported Praphan Pipithnamporn back to Thailand, despite grave concerns that she will be persecuted by Thailand’s military junta, and against Malaysia’s obligations under international law.
Praphan Pipithnamporn is accused of sedition, including handing out leaflets critical of the monarchy. Her activities have been peaceful.
Following several arrests, being held incommunicado in military detention, threats and intimidation in her home country, Pipithnamporn fled to Malaysia in January this year and sought refugee status.
The UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur registered her claim and designated her a “person of concern” in April. Less than a month later, the Malaysian government has deported her to almost certain persecution and human rights violations.
This blatant disregard of the rights of political refugees is similar to that practised by the old BN regime. Why is the PH government continuing with the repressive and unlawful stance of the former BN govt towards political refugees?
Thailand has been aggressive in pursuing anti-monarchy activists, including those seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Two Thai activists were murdered in Lao in late 2018, and in early 2019 three more members of Organization for Thai Federation went missing from Vietnam, amid fears of enforced disappearances and extradition.
Against this backdrop, the Malaysian government would have been fully aware of the danger they placed Praphan Pipithnamporn in when they deported her at the request of the Thai authorities.
We find it particularly egregious that Malaysia has deported Pipithnamporn under sedition charges, knowing that Thailand has some of the most extreme lese-majeste laws in the world and given Malaysia’s own promise to abolish oppressive laws.
As a government that has made a stand against the Sedition Act and other laws which restrict free speech in Malaysia, they cannot simultaneously deport peaceful activists to regimes which seek to prosecute them under even more tyrannical laws. This act by the government is inconsistent with its stated commitments to fairness, democracy and protecting human rights.
This comes just two months of Malaysia’s deportation of six Egyptians at risk of persecution by the military regime in their home country, whose whereabouts are now unknown and a cause of grave concern.
The government must now explain why they have sent a peaceful and legitimate political protester into certain persecution and detention. The government must take responsibility for the risks this move has placed on Pipithnamporn and reassure the world that Malaysia will respect and protect persons who seek help, safety and asylum in our country.
Lawyers for Liberty