Jordan threatens to deport Syrian for attempting to document Palestine rally

Jordan threatens to deport Syrian for attempting to document Palestine rally
Jordan has ordered the deportation of a UN-registered Syrian refugee without a court order, despite appeals by rights groups that he faces danger in Syria.
2 min read
22 April, 2024
Atia Moahamad Abu Salem was arrested for attempting to document a pro-Palestine protest. Jordanian government has arrested hundreds for their participation in these demonstrations. [Getty]

The Jordanian government is threatening to deport Atia Mohamad Abu Salem, a 24-year-old Syrian refugee and university student, to Syria after he attempted to film a pro-Palestine demonstration in Amman, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Friday.

Abu Salem was arrested on 9 April along with another Jordanian friend while they were on their way to document a protest in Amman in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Jordanian authorities then ordered Abu Salem's deportation to Syria without a court order, despite Abu Salem's status as a UN-registered refugee.

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Abu Salem and his family are known for their opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, something which rights groups say could expose them to danger if they returned to Syria.

"Jordanian authorities are on the verge of deporting a 24-year-old Syrian student who has lived half his life without charging him for a crime or presenting him before a judicial body," Adam Coogle, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said.

Rights groups regularly document instances in which Syrian refugees deported from Lebanon and Jordan have faced violence, forced disappearance and torture upon their return at the hands of security services.

Abu Salem was interrogated upon being detained, and his phone was searched by security officers. He has been held in administrative detention without a charge since then, awaiting deportation.

"Atia loves Jordan, and our family is grateful they are there. If he did something wrong, try him in court, but please don't deport him to Syria," a relative of Abu Salem said.

Jordan hosts over 638,000 registered Syrian refugees, most of whom fled neighbouring Syria's 2011 civil war. It has periodically deported Syrians to southern Daraa province or the remote Rukban camp in the desert on its northeastern border with Syria.

Returning refugees to areas where they have a credible fear that they will be in danger is a form of refoulment and is against international law.

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Thousands of Jordanians have been demonstrating in front of the Israeli embassy in Amman since 24 March in protest of Israel's military operation in Gaza, which has killed over 34,000 Palestinians.

Protesters have called on the Jordanian government to break its 1994 peace treaty with Israel, in addition to all commercial ties with the country.

Jordanian authorities have responded to protests by arresting and harassing demonstrators and activists, detaining at least 200 since the current round of protests broke out.

Rights groups have called on the government to release detained people and allow peaceful protesters to freely express their demands.