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Sovereignty, rights ignored in airport debacle [Editorial]


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Sovereignty, rights ignored in airport debacle

By The Nation

 

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Thailand could have blood on its hands if it fails to protect a Saudi traveller on her journey to freedom

 

The fate of a Saudi woman on her way to Australia, where she has a visa and seeks to obtain asylum, teetered in the balance in Bangkok at press time yesterday. Amid Thailand’s apparent willingness to deport her back to Saudi Arabia, rights lawyers representing her failed to get a Bangkok court to accept an injunction against her repatriation, which could have spelled her doom. Then came an abrupt about-face as the head of Immigration announced that, contrary to his earlier remarks, she would not be deported against her will.

 

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, had barricaded herself in a hotel room near Suvarnabhumi Airport while Thai authorities fumbled over a case that could have grave repercussions for our country. She believed she would be killed if Thailand sent her back to Saudi Arabia, where her family has allegedly subjected her to physical and psychological abuse. 

 

According to reports late Sunday, Saudi and Kuwaiti officials seized her as she deplaned at Suvarnabhumi and forcibly confiscated her travel documents. New York-based Human Rights Watch has backed up her claims, though its sources are unclear.

 

“They took my passport,” al-Qunun was quoted as saying by news agency AFP, adding that her male guardian had filed a complaint in Saudi Arabia that was she was travelling “without his permission”, as Saudi law requires of women. “My family locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair,” she said, “I’m 100 per cent sure they will kill me as soon as I get out of the Saudi jail.”

Thai Immigration chief Surachate Hakparn first told reporters that Qunun was barred from entering Thailand because “she had no other documents such as return airfare or money”. She insisted she had valid travel papers and was merely in transit through Bangkok en route to Australia, for which she had a visa.

 

Human Rights Watch was appalled by Thai Immigration’s apparent readiness to accommodate the Saudi authorities. “What country allows diplomats to wander around the closed section of the airport and seize the passports of passengers?” deputy director for Asia Phil Robertson asked, pointing out Saudi Arabia’s horrendous record on rights.

 

It will indeed be encouraging if the Thai government takes a firm stand in the matter after foreigners overtly trampled our sovereignty. Diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia have gradually improved since the ruinous affair of a Thai stealing gems from the Saudi royal family more than two decades ago. We owe the Saudis nothing. If there is even the slightest possibility that this woman’s life is in danger, Thailand must oppose her repatriation.

 

The incident comes just three months after Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi who was critical of his country’s rulers, was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. That case has roiled international opinion. 

 

Thailand cannot afford to be at the centre of another such controversy, even if this one has a far lower profile. But there was Surachate early yesterday saying al-Qunun would soon be on a plane bound for Saudi Arabia. “It’s a family problem,” he said, sounding devoid of compassion. Surachate appeared not to have heard – or not to care – that a member of her family vowed on record that Qunun would indeed be severely punished on her return, possibly even killed.

 

This is decidedly not a “family problem”. It is a direct threat to the same fundamental human rights that Thailand has sworn to protect, even if Saudi Arabia does not extend such rights to women. 

 

Al-Qunun has every right to flee harsh treatment at home and seek asylum in a country willing to protect her. Tragedy could ensue simply because, on her way to gaining freedom, she first touched down in Bangkok.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30361814

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2019-01-08
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What a disgrace for Thailand to allow officials of a (rogue) foreign nation to act as such..

 

Was Big Joke still in his x-ray-outlaw-foreigner, dilema to have allowed the Saudi officials such discretion ?

 

The world needs to put a stop on the Saudi goons, playing Police or hitmen when abroad, under diplomatic cover.

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It was all about jewels and repairing previous damage,

now looking like too late,

renouncing  her faith ( maybe )

more options in her future life if she can get to Oz

good luck to her

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That's just about dashes any hope Thailand has of getting a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. The EU is keeping close watch on Thailand's human rights failings.

 

 

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

while Thai authorities fumbled over a case

because people here have jobs does not mean they are good , possibly even average, at them; look at how many jobs are obtained here, bought,nepotism,cronyism...

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How did these Saudi embassy persons get access to the airside of the airport without going legally through immigration?  There had to be collusion by corrupt immigration officers.  I wouldn't be surprised if money was exchanged.

 

This is a serious example with major international repercussions of what is wrong in this country.

 

Saudi Arabia treats its dogs better than its women.

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It appears that the Thai authorities only showed a willingness to meet the obligations it has signed up to when the story made international headlines. While there was no media attention they allowed foreign officials to apprehend someone not even officially in this country and both Prawit and Surachate were happy to see her returned to Saudi. Only when the news spread around the world did they discover the necessity to apply the correct international standards. They really are doing their best to drag Thailand as a country down to their own personal level of intolerance and respect for international laws.

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It seems that international pressure has forced Big Joke and Co, to reassess the situation. Having said she will not be forcibly repatriated if it will lead to her death, which it probably would, one hopes she will be able to travel to, and claim asylum in Australia.

Questions will still remain though, in how Saudi and Kuwaiti officials were able to enter the security area of the airport? And who let them? The initial position taken by Thailand was deplorable, and again, I would like to know who did what to pressure them into allowing a passenger in transit to be summarily detained, with highly dubious authority.

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19 minutes ago, car720 said:

The other side of this unfortunate situation is that we may start to see Thai workers in Saudi Arabia losing their heads.

Thai workers were all expelled from Saudi Arabia during the Blue Diamond Affair.  I don't think they have been allowed to return since then, but I might be wrong about that.

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2 hours ago, observer90210 said:

The world needs to put a stop on the Saudi goons, playing Police or hitmen when abroad, under diplomatic cover.

 

IMO. the 'world' is encouraging Saudi Arabia to be cavalier and brutal. 

 

The west, led by US and its knee bending pals, is gradually driving a wedge between the two main branches of Islam. Why? From the west's perspective, what is better than having one Muslim branch take out another (Saudi and friends v Iran and friends)! Save the 'righteous' countries from doing it. This would, in turn, hurt Russia and China and leave Israel to cherry-pick the pieces.

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46 minutes ago, lujanit said:

How did these Saudi embassy persons get access to the airside of the airport without going legally through immigration?  There had to be collusion by corrupt immigration officers.  I wouldn't be surprised if money was exchanged.

 

Oddly enough, for once this is not necessarily a corruption issue. Many embassies have airport restricted area passes and embassy personnel can easily sign them out. They are generally used for 'meeting and greeting' visiting officials. But as we've likely seen, they can be used in other 'unintended' ways.

 

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In Thailand the law is not firmly or rightly applied to the same standards as other countries- to the extent that a clearly stated line of writing is either ignored or comically misinterpreted when its meaning is as clear as day.

 

The bungle here, if it was just that, is to think that Saudi law usurped Thai law in Thailand.  In what other country could that happen?

 

The fact remains that until this story spread in the media, and the UN and Human Rights watch got involved, Thailand was quite prepared to deport her without so much as a thought for the consequences.

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It seems Thailand was quite happy to twist and bend the rules to accommodate the Saudis and sell this young girl down the river to her death. Until such time as it became an international incident that is, whereupon they have reevaluated their position and are now trying to not look bad. I suspect they would have flown her out to her death yesterday had the spotlight not been shone on them though.

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Oddly enough, for once this is not necessarily a corruption issue. Many embassies have airport restricted area passes and embassy personnel can easily sign them out. They are generally used for 'meeting and greeting' visiting officials. But as we've likely seen, they can be used in other 'unintended' ways.

 

They should still not have been allowed air side since apprehending one of their citizens can not be official mission business - only Thai authorities could have done that.

 

Also the courtesy of meeting officials airside should in the future only be extended to civilized nations who do not abuse diplomatic privileges.

Primitive, backward countries like Saudi Arabia who fly murder squads to other countries to murder their own citizens, dismember them and make them disappear should be stripped of most diplomatic privileges. In fact they should be subject to special searches at airport security after what happened in Turkey to demonstrate to them what the world thinks about them and that if they behave like gangsters they will be treated as such.

 

Anyway let’s just hope that the world speeds up going renewable and then they can go back herding goats and play in the sand.

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app

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1 hour ago, KiChakayan said:

Even BJ knows that Saudi Arabia is the mother of all brown envelopes factories.

It was BJ's boss, the Watchman, who was the senior jaunta official weighting in on this. People should watch out to see if he starts wearing a Rolex Daytona or some such new opulent wrist wear.

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ha ha but your are allowed to have 20 + watches, he has a way to go yet, and the *committee* ( they love that word, ) when set up, will find no wrongdoing (but he might be minus a few. )

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“What country allows diplomats to wander around the closed section of the airport and seize the passports of passengers?”  hmmm can I have a hint?

Well, USA snatched folks in transit to send to black sites (as in Thailand) to be tortured under Bush 2. But I suppose those folks weren't diplomats, just usual government thugs. I'm a Yank, if that matters to some.

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In the case of the Saudi official gaining access to the airside of the airport,  Thailand needs to be reminded that modern overbearing airport security is a direct result of Islamic terrorism, namely 911, with Saudi extremists being involved in the attacks. This really doesn't give much confidence in Thai airport security.

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1 hour ago, mommysboy said:

The fact remains that until this story spread in the media, and the UN and Human Rights watch got involved, Thailand was quite prepared to deport her without so much as a thought for the consequences.

Bang on the money mommysboy!

 

If it hadn't been for modern technology (twitter et al.), she would have been back in Saudi now and maybe brown bread. AND!! We on TVForum (and the rest of the world) would have been none the wiser

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This bloody fiasco just shows that this rag tag mob calling themselves the government have no respect for law and order or human rights.

Big Joke dont care about anybodys human rights, only getting photo ops, media coverage.

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2 hours ago, Lungstib said:

It appears that the Thai authorities only showed a willingness to meet the obligations it has signed up to when the story made international headlines. While there was no media attention they allowed foreign officials to apprehend someone not even officially in this country and both Prawit and Surachate were happy to see her returned to Saudi. Only when the news spread around the world did they discover the necessity to apply the correct international standards. They really are doing their best to drag Thailand as a country down to their own personal level of intolerance and respect for international laws.

Its a pity that more of the corruption in thailand doesnt make headlines overseas.

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2 hours ago, Lungstib said:

It appears that the Thai authorities only showed a willingness to meet the obligations it has signed up to when the story made international headlines. While there was no media attention they allowed foreign officials to apprehend someone not even officially in this country and both Prawit and Surachate were happy to see her returned to Saudi. Only when the news spread around the world did they discover the necessity to apply the correct international standards. They really are doing their best to drag Thailand as a country down to their own personal level of intolerance and respect for international laws.

Only when the news spread around the world, did they discover the necessity to apply correct international standards.

That's the important bit.

Social media has changed how officials and governments act all over the world.

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1 hour ago, boonrawdcnx said:

Primitive, backward countries like Saudi Arabia who fly murder squads to other countries to murder their own citizens, dismember them and make them disappear should be stripped of most diplomatic privileges. In fact they should be subject to special searches at airport security after what happened in Turkey to demonstrate to them what the world thinks about them and that if they behave like gangsters they will be treated as such.

The UK, in no small way, helped the Sauds start up their 'Kingdom'. 

 

The Saudi Arabia, that we know today, is simply a puppet of the west. They are being used by the US (and UK) to create turmoil in the region. The amount of arms and technology that has been sold to them is staggering. US, UK, Canada etc,, have sold* close to 200 Billion dollars, down the years to Saudi

 

Saudi Arabia has been left off various western lists. One is the UK's list of countries that execute their people. Strange that!! But not when you consider the 'close ties' that the 'moral' UK has with Saudi.

 

* Perhaps 'sold' is the wrong term in US's case, as the weaponry is traded for both oil and interest on Petrodollar bonds.

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