Sunday, July 21, 2024

Thailand’s human rights dilemma

Bi-2 performing in Portugal in May 2023


“Russian-Belarusian Rock Band Bi-2 Faces Deportation from Thailand Amid Anti-War Views and Persecution Concerns”

Human Rights Watch calls on Thai government to protect Bi-2 from deportation as the band, known for their anti-war stance, faces potential persecution in Russia. The rock group, arrested during their tour in Phuket for unauthorized shows, remains in Bangkok detention. Moscow has criticized the band, and supporters claim their detention is a result of political pressure. Bi-2 alleges outside influence and insufficient translation services during legal proceedings. With some members holding dual citizenships, concerns arise over potential deportations to Russia for those without alternative citizenships. Russian authorities have not commented on the situation. The band previously faced backlash in 2023 when the frontman was labeled a “foreign agent” for opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Russian rock band that protested war may be deported to Moscow by Thailand

“They’ve been inconvenient for the Russian government for a while because they are a very big band and they are very obviously anti-war and anti-Putin. So they moved out of the country a while ago,” commented Marjana Semkina, a friend of one of the band members, on Facebook.

With the war in Ukraine prompting a significant exodus of Russians, Thailand, especially popular destinations like Phuket, has become a haven for Russian tourists. Since the conflict’s onset two years ago, nearly half a million Russians sought refuge in Phuket, often avoiding conscription.

Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher Sunai Pasuk highlighted the potential gravity of the situation, stating, “If Thai authorities send them [Bi-2] back to Russia to face danger and persecution, it would be the first case under Prime Minister Sretta’s government. The Thai PM promised that his government will adhere to the principle of human rights, so this is a crucial test.”

Returning a Russian national to Russia amid the ongoing war would mark the first instance under the current Thai administration. It would also violate Thai domestic laws preventing torture and enforced disappearances, as well as Thailand’s international obligations against torture, given its status as a signatory to the UN Convention against torture.

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