Two Saudi sisters who have been hiding in Hong Kong since September face an uncertain future on the last day of their permitted stay in the autonomous Chinese city.
“We’re terrified that we’ll be forced to return to Saudi Arabia,” they said on Twitter under the handle HKSaudiSisters on Wednesday, a day before the end of their permit to stay in Hong Kong.
“We applied for an emergency rescue visa for a 3rd country over two months ago. We [had] hoped that our emergency visa [would] be granted without delay.”
Two Saudi sisters have fled #SaudiArabia & are now in Hong Kong. They are at risk of being deported back to the kingdom, which they say they escaped after experiencing beatings by their father & brothers.
Don’t send them back. https://t.co/yDuRBKp7ro
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) February 27, 2019
The sisters, who say they have converted to Christianity, claim they fled from a family holiday in Sri Lanka to Hong Kong, from where they had hoped to board a connecting flight to Australia.
They claimed on Twitter that they were intercepted at Hong Kong airport by Saudi officials and have since gone into hiding. The pair, who have been identified as Reem and Rawan, claimed to have moved 13 times to avoid detection.
They said Saudi Arabia cancelled their passports but they were afraid to go to the Hong Kong consulate to renew them.
Hong Kong is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and would-be asylum seekers often languish for years as they wait to be sent to a third country.
Hong Kong’s immigration department told DPA news agency that it does not comment on individual cases.
Michael Vidler, a Hong Kong lawyer representing the sisters, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The two sisters are not the first to flee Saudi Arabia and seek assistance via social media.
Such cases appear to be on the rise, with the two sisters’ story emerging a month after 18-year-old Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed drew international attention with her dramatic escape from an allegedly abusive family to eventually gain refugee status in Canada.
Al Jazeera and news agencies