#SaveHKSaudiSisters - Give them a place of safety!

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Dear Leaders of Canada, Australia, France, Germany and New Zealand,

As global citizens, we urge you to save stateless Saudi sisters Reem (age 20) and Rawan (age 18) (aliases) who are currently in Hong Kong and urgently seeking a safe home in a third country.

"We dream of being in a safe place where we can be normal young women, free from violence and oppression." @HKSisters6 

Their permission to stay in Hong Kong will expire on 28 February 2019.

UPDATE (28 February 2019): Permission to stay in Hong Kong extended (tolerated) until 28 March 2019.

They urgently need a third country place of safety because Hong Kong does not resettle refugees.

Sisters Reem and Rawan fled their abusive home in Saudi Arabia in September 2018.

Their escape was thwarted in Hong Kong international airport by Saudi Consulate officials who cancelled the sisters’ confirmed onward air tickets to Australia and tried to trick them into flying back to Saudi Arabia via Dubai.

The two sisters entered Hong Kong on tourist visas as a last resort and have been in hiding since, stranded, alone. They are terrified that, if found, Saudi officials will abduct and forcibly return them to Saudi Arabia where they would face indefinite imprisonment or worse.

THEY URGENTLY NEED A SAFE PERMANENT HOME.

Hong Kong: Sisters’ lives in grave danger if sent back to Saudi Arabia - Amnesty International

What can you do to help?

1. Sign this petition by the end of March 28, 2019 HKT (4PM GMT). Stand in support of the sisters in their plea for safety. The petition will be sent directly to government officials in Australia, Canada, France, Germany and New Zealand, countries known for their respect for human rights and compassion for asylum seekers, particularly in the face of gender-based violence.

2. Ask your government to #SaveHKSaudiSisters. The sisters are not safe in Hong Kong. The Saudi Arabia government has a history of forcing young women to return to Saudi Arabia against their wishes and was shown to have murdered American-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey last October. Saudi Arabia consulate officials are in pursuit of the sisters in Hong Kong.

3. Contact your government’s Department of Foreign Affairs. Ask if they will grant refugee status to Reem and Rawan ASAP. It is no longer safe for the sisters to stay in Hong Kong as their story surfaces when their legal stay in Hong Kong expires on March 28, 2019. The sisters need to be resettled in a safe third country immediately.

Canada: Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs
chrystia.freeland@international.gc.ca +1 (613) 992-5234 or (343) 203-1851

Australia: Marise Payne, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Senator.Payne@aph.gov.au +61 2 687 8755

France: Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs
courrier.fae-mail@diplomatie.gouv.fr +33 143175353

Germany: Heiko Maas, Minister for Foreign Affairs
+49 3018170

New Zealand: Winston Peters, Minister of Foreign Affairs
enquiries@mfat.govt.nz +64 4 398 000

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Timeline of Events

6 September 2018

- While on family holiday in Sri Lanka, the sisters attempted to flee to Australia with a scheduled 2 hours transit in Hong Kong.

- In a restricted transit area of Hong Kong International Airport, the sisters were approached and stopped by Saudi Consulate officials and others acting on the instructions of Saudi officials. Their passports were taken, onward flight to Australia we cancelled and officials tried to trick them to board a flight to Saudi Arabia (via Dubai) while sabotaging their attempts to get on another flight to Australia.

- Fleeing from Saudi consular officials inside the Hong Kong International Airport, they entered Hong Kong on a tourist visa.

10 September 2018

- Having flown to Hong Kong earlier, the sisters’ father and uncle filed a missing person’s report with the Hong Kong police.

- Saudi Arabia consular officials and male relatives of the sisters convinced the Hong Kong police to locate the sisters.

- Police located the sisters at their hotel and took them to a police station where male relatives were waiting along with the HK Consul General of Saudia Arabia.

- The sisters were taken into custody and held for questioning for six hours; Hong Kong police officials attempted to convince them to meet with waiting male relatives and the Saudi Consul General who were at the station.

- The sisters were eventually driven back to the hotel and they subsequently fled the hotel after midnight.

November 2018

- Both sisters’ passports were invalidated by Saudi Arabia authorities, leaving the sisters stateless and unable to travel without first visiting the Saudi Consulate.

September 2018 - February 2019

- The sisters have noticed they are been followed by Saudi officials.

- They have been living in hiding, moving 13 times out of fear of being forced to return to Saudi Arabia.

- It is not safe for the sisters to stay in HK in the long or short term so they are unable to file to seek asylum in the city.

- They have applied for asylum in other countries with no response as yet.

February 2019

- With no passport, Hong Kong visitor visas cannot be extended.

- The sisters are allowed to stay in Hong Kong (ie their stay is tolerated by the Hong Kong government) until February 28, 2019.

- If returned to Saudi Arabia, they fear criminal prosecution by the state or honour killing by their own family or by others for apostasy (having renounced Islam).

28 February 2019

- HK Immigration granted permission to stay (tolerated) until 28 March without a visa.

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References

#SaveHKSaudiSisters HKSaudiSisters

@HKSisters6 - Twitter (official)

In the Media

Desperate and alone, Saudi sisters risk everything to flee oppression - CNN Exclusive

Saudi sisters trapped in Hong Kong seek visa extension as they scramble to secure safe haven - CNN

Saudi sisters on the run from consular staff and family apply to stay longer in Hong Kong - SCMP

Saudi Sisters Stranded in Hong Kong After Holiday Escape - Wall Street Journal

Saudi sisters fear deportation from Hong Kong as deadline nears - Al Jazeera

Saudi Arabia sisters pass Hong Kong deportation deadline - BBC

Saudi sisters stranded in Hong Kong face deportation as visa deadline nears - Reuters

Saudi sisters stranded in Hong Kong face imminent deportation - The Straits Times

Stranded Saudi sisters fleeing abuse ask Hong Kong gov’t for more time amid fears of deportation - HKFP

Saudi Sisters’ Plan to Escape to Australia Is Halted in Hong Kong - NY Times

Saudi sisters stuck in Hong Kong months after fleeing kingdom - Al Jazeera

EXCLUSIVE: Stranded Saudi sisters fear for their safety in Hong Kong, as clock ticks on hopes for asylum - HKFP

'I was like a prisoner': Saudi sisters trapped in Hong Kong recall beatings - Reuters

Saudi sisters on run from consular staff after renouncing Muslim faith were ‘kidnapped at Hong Kong airport’ - SCMP

Saudi sisters trapped in Hong Kong fear death penalty if deported - The Guardian

Saudi Sisters Stranded for Months in Hong Kong After Fleeing the Kingdom - Time

Social media rallies around #SaudiSisters stranded in Hong Kong after escape attempt - HK Coconuts

Young Saudi sisters 'allowed to stay' in Hong Kong for now - SBS News

Saudi sisters hiding in Hong Kong face imminent deportation - The Guardian

Young Saudi sisters 'allowed to stay' in Hong Kong for now - SBS News

Saudi Sisters Plead With Hong Kong to Allow Them to Remain in the City on 'Humanitarian Grounds' - Time

Vidler and Co Solicitors - Facebook Post (official)