Australia to 'consider' Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun's asylum plea

09 January, 2019, 11:09 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family

The organization's Australian director, Elaine Pearson, said she had seen electronic confirmation of her tourist visa, but that Qunun could no longer access her visa page on Australia's immigration website on Tuesday, sparking concern the document had been cancelled.

The UNHCR has now assessed her case and found she is a refugee.

"We've been successful in getting them to agree to do that", Mr Hunt told ABC TV on Wednesday.

Alqunun's father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday evening and have asked to see her, but Alqunun has refused to meet them.

"The father and brother want to go and talk to Rahaf but the United Nations will need to approve such talk", immigration chief Surachate Hakpan told reporters.

'The father and brother want to go and talk to Rahaf but the United Nations will need to approve such talk, ' General Surachate told reporters. Her Twitter account has attracted more than 66,000 followers in less than 48 hours.

A young Saudi woman is asking for Canada's help after tweets about her efforts to flee abuse and seek asylum overseas put her in the global spotlight. "She very clearly stated that she was unhappy with Islam".

Halfway around the world, retweets by Saudi Twitter users were noticed by Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy in Montreal who began translating and retweeting Ms Qunun's Arabic tweets at 4am Thailand time, even though she was initially unsure if the account was authentic. She was reportedly taken to a detention center in the Saudi capital and little more regarding her location or condition is known.

"She is under the care of the UNHCR now but we also sent Thai security to help take care [of her]", Surachate told reporters.Qunun had reportedly told UNHCR officials that she "wants to stay in Thailand for a while seeking asylum to a third country". "It was her wish to be under the care of the UNHCR, not that of the Thai government", Surachet told the diplomat. After that he took my passport. "She didn't get that [social media] support and that's why she's in Saudi Arabia now - she's disappeared", Alharbi said. My family do this, I know them.

UNHCR staff were interviewing her on Tuesday after meeting her the day before.


Alharbi mentioned the case of Dina Ali Lasloom, a 24-year-old Saudi woman who in April 2017 was returned to Saudi Arabia from the Philippines against her will and whose fate is unclear.

The 18-year-old barricaded herself in a room at an airport hotel in Bangkok, saying she had renounced Islam and her life was in danger from her family in Kuwait.

"The claims made by Ms Alqunun that she may be harmed, if returned to Saudi Arabia are deeply concerning", a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said on January 8.

But Saudi Arabia's charge d'affairs in Bangkok, Abdullah al-Shuaibi, denied Saudi authorities were involved.

"She does not have a return reservation or a tourist program, which requires deportation by the Thai authorities", it said.

Rahaf also accused her family of subjecting her to physical and psychological abuse.

Her case has drawn new global attention to Saudi Arabia's strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families. "There are reports that she is receiving death threats and that Saudi men are calling for her to be hanged as an example to other would be 'rebels'".

Under what is known as the "male guardianship system", a woman's father, brother, husband or son has the authority to make critical decisions on her behalf.

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Thailand on January 8 denied reports that Saudi Arabia had requested her extradition, according to Reuters.

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