A 25 year old LGBTQI+ and women’s rights defender, and refugee from Jordan, AOA, is facing forced repatriation from their current location in Lebanon. The Australian Humanitarian Visa holder, who identifies as a non-binary lesbian, was two days away from flying to Australia when they were arrested in Beirut due to an abuse of the INTERPOL system. There are serious concerns that AOA’s prominent family in Jordan are manipulating their repatriation.
“AOA has fought hard for over two years to flee their violent and oppressive family, to speak out against punishments for apostates, and to defend the rights of women, and the LGBTQI+ community. AOA must be saved from their extremist family, and be allowed to flourish in a free country, safe from persecution,” Secular Rescue Case Manager Katrina Parker said.
We call on the Lebanese authorities to cooperate with the Australian authorities and the United Nations in Lebanon to ensure AOA can board the plane to Australia. As a refugee, AOA is under international protection and repatriating them means a violation to international human rights and refugee lawAmnesty International Australia campaigner Veronica Koman
“We call on the Lebanese authorities to cooperate with the Australian authorities and the United Nations in Lebanon to ensure AOA can board the plane to Australia. As a refugee, AOA is under international protection and repatriating them means a violation to international human rights and refugee law,” Amnesty International Australia Strategic Advocacy Campaigner Veronica Koman said.
AOA is a victim of rape, sexual assaults, torture, forced marriage, forced conversion therapy, forced hospitalization, and forced veiling abuse that dates back to their childhood. AOA’s family is very influential with influence extending across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Many of their family members work for the Jordanian government and include a former minister.
AOA finally escaped persecution from their powerful family in Jordan, to Turkey in July 2020. Yet their family was able to rapidly locate AOA, forcing them to seek safety in a third country. When AOA tried to flee Turkey to Lebanon, they were stopped at the airport due to an INTERPOL Yellow Notice, yet thorough and humanitarian Turkish authorities recognised AOA was not a missing person but in considerable danger.
Despite being on the run, AOA was a vocal and courageous advocate for women and LGBTQI+ rights and their story was profiled by several media outlets where they were recognised as a staunch human rights defender.
On Tuesday (21/12/2021), AOA was paying fees to Lebanese authorities when suddenly taken into custody. AOA was told that there was an INTERPOL Red Notice for their arrest. Following our challenge, it is understood that the Red Notice has since been cancelled. However, AOA is still arbitrarily detained and the Jordanian Embassy in Lebanon is actively seeking AOA to be repatriated to Jordan, which would be a breach of international law. AOA is again facing forced conversion practices if returned.