Two Saudi sisters who became stranded in Hong Kong whilst fleeing abuse back home have officially been granted permission to remain until next month.
The pair have had their stay extended until April 8 but are liable to prosecution and removal as overstayers, according to their lawyer Michael Vidler.
“We are urgently seeking clarification from Hong Kong immigration authorities and continue to press for an urgent determination of the sisters’ visas to a 3rd country place of safety,” Vidler said in a statement on Thursday.
Rawan and Reem, who are using pseudonyms out of safety concerns, told HKFP last month that they would risk further domestic abuse, legal action or even a so-called “honour killing” at the hands of their relatives for renouncing Islam if they were deported back to the Kingdom. The pair fled a family holiday in Sri Lanka and boarded a flight to Australia last September but became stranded in Hong Kong after an apparent intervention by the Saudi consulate.
“We are in Hong Kong because of the actions of the Saudi authorities at Hong Kong international airport in September. They know we are in Hong Kong and have been actively looking for us,” the sisters said. “We feel like fish trapped in a little oasis that is rapidly drying out. We are in constant fear of being found by the Saudi authorities and our family and forced to return to Saudi Arabia.”
“All we want is to go to a [third] country place of safety, without being ever fearful that the Saudi Authorities and our family will find us and abduct us.”