Jordanian political activist Odei Abu Issah has sought political asylum from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey, provoking a mixed reaction from other activists in Jordan.
Some activists defended Abu Issah, justifying his fear of judgment issued against him via Article 195 of the State Security Court’s penal code, which stipulates imprisonment of one to three years for “anyone who insults the king.”
Others said that Abu Issah is running away rather than facing the injustice against him and staying to fight the country’s corruption.
Some also accused Abu Issah of playing a “hero and freedom fighter” role without having made any real sacrifice on the Jordanian street.
Odei’s mother was surprised by news of her son’s asylum. She told AmmanNet that the family had not communicated with him since he left for Turkey on September 18th. She only read news of his asylum through the media, she said.
AmmanNet tried to communicate with Abu Issah in Turkey, but only received an email reply. It said that he was travelling to Turkey “by official means through the Queen Alia International Airport.”
“The decision to travel is difficult, given that I cannot return to Jordan,” Abu Issah said, adding that he prefers political asylum over “living in fear of arbitrary arrests and the brutality of thugs.”
When we asked why his request for asylum was accepted, Abu Issah replied, “I am under warrant from the State Security Court, which contradicts international human rights law and is not recognized internationally. I do not know where I will end up, but I continue in resistance.”
Although Abu Issah’s case is the first of its kind since the Arab Spring and successive governments’ so-called “wheel of reform,” the history of Jordanians seeking asylum abroad is plentiful.
For more information, including a history of Jordanian asylum seekers, see original article in Arabic here.
Translated by Alice Su.