Sujana Rana, a Nepalese activist residing legally in Lebanon, was deported on Saturday night by the Lebanese authorities.
Rana and fellow Nepalese national Rose Limu Jee were both arrested last week for unclear reasons, raising concerns from fellow activists that they would be deported. Both women are key members of the Domestic Workers Union, which has not been legally recognized by the Lebanese government.
According to the Anti-Racism Movement (ARM), an organization that works to support Lebanon's migrant community, Rana and Jee have legal residency and work permits. They were taken and arrested from their employers' home.
In a statement on its Facebook page, ARM called both women defenders of migrant rights saying they "have exerted efforts for years in documenting and exposing violations against migrant domestic workers."
Domestic workers in Lebanon work under the kafala system, making them entirely reliant on their employers. Many foreign workers face abuse and are forced to work long hours with little, if any, time off. They are not allowed to change jobs without their employer's permission and have no legal protections, as they are excluded from the Lebanese Labor Law.
But the case of Rana and Jee is particularly concerning to activists. It appears to be a discriminatory measure "against the defenders of human rights and the right to freedom of association," ARM said.
Although Rana has already been deported, Jee's situation remains unclear. Activist groups – including ARM, Human Rights Watch and KAFA along with 18 others –tried to halt Rana's deportation through a social media campaign, but were unsuccessful.
Despite being deported, Rana expressed optimism and love for those who supported her in her plight.
"All of you stay safe and stay strong I am coming to my mother's land thank you so much," she wrote on Facebook. "I am gonna miss you all."