Syrian refugee Hassan Al Kontar was arrested on Monday (Oct 1) by Malaysian police for remaining in the forbidden area of Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s terminal two.
He had been living inside KLIA’s domestic transfer lounge since March after being denied entry to Cambodia and sent back to Malaysia.
Malaysian police transferred Al Kontar to the immigration department. It stated it would contact the Syria embassy to facilitate his deportation from Malaysia.
The UN refugee agency’s Malaysia office is aware of Al Kontar’s arrest but has been unable to comment on specific cases.
Supporters inside Malaysia fear he will be placed in immigration detention until deportation, where conditions have been referred to as “torture-like” by SUHAKAM, Malaysia’s human rights commission.
The 37-year-old man to seek asylum in Malaysia and decided to remain at the airport. Many views this move as a protest Malaysia’s arbitrary detention of refugees and it not being a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention.
Before Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011, al Kontar was living what would be considered a normal life and worked as an insurance marketing manager in the United Arab Emirates.
He was later summoned for military service. After refusing to return, he says the Syrian embassy in the UAE declined to renew his passport in 2012. That meant his work permit couldn’t be renewed, so Al Kontar lost his job and remained in the UAE for the next six years.
He first arrived in Malaysia in October 2017 after being deported from the United Arab Emirates, where he had lived for 11 years, avoiding Syria’s devastating war and compulsory military service.
Al Kontar pleaded with UAE authorities to be sent to Malaysia, one of the few countries that allow Syrians to obtain visas on arrival.
He later tried to travel to Cambodia but was sent back to the airport in Kuala Lumpur in early March. He had been stranded at the airport in the Malaysian capital until Monday.
Al Kontar survived on airline meals given to him by staff members and slept on a mattress on the floor.
Sources: nbcnews.com, aljazeera.com