Detained in Dubai CEO Radha Stirling issued the following statement on the ongoing case of Dua and Dalal Khalid, two Saudi sisters who fled alleged abuse by their family in Saudi Arabia, and who are currently in Turkey seeking asylum in a third country.
“The Saudi sisters, Dua and Dalal, who are seeking asylum and refugee status to escape alleged abuse by their family, have been asked to report to Turkish police to confirm that they are, in fact, acting by their own free will, and are not fleeing due to any coercion. Family members, including their father, have reportedly claimed that the two have actually been abducted, and are asking the Turkish authorities to hand them back over to the custody of their family.
“The coercion that has precipitated their flight from Saudi Arabia has only been the severe mistreatment they have allegedly suffered at the hands of their own family, and the Saudi system; and Dua herself has made clear in a video shared on social media that they are acting of their own volition. Relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been tense ever since the killing of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul last year. The ruling AK Party lost municipal elections in Istanbul this week, largely due to popular discontent over the influx of refugees into the city; so the situation of Dua and Dalal is particularly precarious, and no one can say for sure how the Turkish authorities will deal with this case.
“We call upon willing host nations in the West to step in and grant the sisters asylum, as happened in the case of Rahaf Mohammed, so that this issue can be resolved without Dua and Dalal facing any more peril and uncertainty. Every day that passes while their status in Turkey remains unstable increases the danger to their lives.”
Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers have issued a press statement concluding "to return the two to Saudi Arabia, where there is credible evidence that they will be mistreated and abused, is not only unlawful, but, sets a very dangerous precedent for any other individual that seeks to flee to safety".
In a telephone conversation with Radha Stirling, Dua and Dalal conveyed how exhausted and frightened they were “We are very worried that our father will be with the Turkish police if we visit and may follow us. The Saudi government is supporting him and we don't know whether we could just disappear. We are grateful to everyone who is assisting us, yourself, Toby Cadman, Ali, Omayma Alnajjar & Nicole Jones and now the United Nations, but we need a country to protect us and we don't feel safe in Turkey". Dua and Dalal released a video confirming that they have fled of their own volition and pleading for a country to accept their asylum request as soon as possible.
Radha Stirling, is founder and CEO of UK / USA based legal and human rights organisation Detained in Dubai, Expert Witness and respected analyst of Middle East Policy.
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