The recent media storm that has erupted around 18 year old Saudi national Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, shows the power of what social media can achieve if properly utilised. The well documented saga can be found with a quick Google, so there’s no need to cover what has already widely been.
However, what does further scrutiny are the comments made by Thailand’s Chief Immigration Officer Surachate Hakparn, commonly referred to by his Thai nickname ‘Big Joke’.
The comments made in his over the top press conference where in Thai, however are well translated into English as:
“If she does not want to leave, we will not force her, The UNHCR and I will… listen to what she wants, whether or not she wants to receive asylum to which country, and we will help coordinate.” “Thailand is a land of smiles. We will not send anyone to die. We will take care of her as best as we can.”
Why no one in the Thai media press pack did not pull up Big Joke statement with the blaring obvious question, how is the case different to Hakeem Al-Araibi? Is beyond me. However to be honest shows a perfect example of the current state of mainstream Thai media.
For those who haven’t followed the case, Hakeem Al-Araibi is the refugee football player who found asylum in Australia. However was detained in Bangkok after being issued with a red notice via Interpol. He is now facing deportation back to the country he fled from, where he fears violence and persecution.
A former member of Bahrain’s national football team, he has previously described being tortured and beaten by authorities. Whom have accused him and other football players of setting fire to a police station, being sentenced to 10 years in jail (in absentia). Al-Araibi denies the charge and claims he was playing in a televised football match at the time of the alleged incident. The players and their families are believed to have been targeted for their involvement in peaceful protests against the ruling family during the Arab Spring of 2011.
The decision by Thai immigration to allow Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun a temporary visa however, is not the only example of extreme hypocrisy of countries dealing with refugee human rights
However, it is not just Thailand showing hyprocis for refugees human rights. Australia’s conduct has been just as bad, whilst proven refugees languish on Manus and Naru ‘awaiting resettlement,’ under the guise of queue jumpers. The Department for Home Affairs released a statement saying it was “pleased” at the developments of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun’s case. Making representations to the Thai government about its “serious concerns on this matter and the need for Ms Alqunun’s claim to be assessed expeditiously.” It said any application by Ms Alqunun for a humanitarian visa would be “carefully considered” once the UNHCR process has concluded.
Many in the Australian media should too be questioning the comments made by our own Immigration Minister Peter Dutton aka ‘Big Potato’.