PETALING JAYA: Human rights lawyers have slammed Putrajaya’s move to deport a Thai woman facing charges under the country’s draconian lese-majeste laws, saying it was no different from the previous Barisan Nasional government which sent back political dissidents to repressive governments.
“The government must now explain why they have sent a peaceful and legitimate political protester into certain persecution and detention,” said Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), responding to the government’s decision to hand over Praphan Pipithnamporn to Thai authorities early this month.
“Why is the PH government continuing with the repressive and unlawful stance of the former BN govt towards political refugees?” it asked.
The move was also criticised by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which questioned Praphan’s arrest in Malaysia despite being registered as an asylum seeker with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
HRW said Praphan, who is accused of sedition and organised crime over her involvement with an anti-monarchy group, now faces an unfair trial in Thailand.
But Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended the decision to deport her.
“If there is a request, we have no choice but to send her back,” he told reporters today.
LFL said it fears for Praphan’s safety in the wake of the the murder and disappearances of several Thai anti-monarchy activists last year.
“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,” said LFL executive director Latheefa Koya.
“This act by the government is inconsistent with its stated commitments to fairness, democracy and protecting human rights,” she added.
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.