PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian government has again come under criticism from rights activists after returning a woman wanted by authorities in Thailand over her anti-monarchy views, the latest in a series of controversial deportations of foreign dissidents wanted by their governments.
Human Rights Watch said Praphan Pipithnamporn is an asylum-seeker registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), but was arrested by Malaysian police in April on Thailand’s request before being repatriated last week.
HRW said Praphan now faces an unfair trial in Thailand, which has some of the world’s toughest lese-majeste laws.
“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,” said HRW’s Asia director Brad Adams.
An arrest warrant was issued for Praphan early this year, following which she fled to Malaysia and applied for refugee status with UNHCR in Kuala Lumpur.
Authorities accused her of sedition and organised crime over her involvement with the Organization for Thai Federation, a tiny movement which has been actively calling for a republic on social media.
HRW said Malaysia is obligated to ensure that no one is sent “to a place where they would risk being subjected to persecution, torture, or other serious human rights violations”.
“Neighbouring countries should not be contributing to Thailand’s increasingly dire human rights situation by sending asylum-seekers into harm’s way.”
Praphan’s deportation comes just a month after Malaysia sent back four critics of the Egyptian military junta in April, in a move which was also criticised by prime minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim.
HRW said the four – Mohamed Fathy Eid, Abdallah Mahmoud Hisham, Abdelrahman Abdelaziz Ahmed and Azmy al-Sayed Mohamed – have gone missing, fuelling fears that they have been arrested and tortured.