Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family

09 January, 2019, 11:07 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family

"The Australian government is pleased that Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun is having her claim for protection assessed by the UNHCR", a spokesperson for Australia's Department of Home Affairs told NPR on Tuesday.

As pressure grew, with concern expressed by Australian lawmakers, Germany's ambassador to Thailand and human rights agencies, Thai officials agreed to allow U.N refugee officials to meet with her.

But while she was in the air, her influential father had alerted Saudi authorities who in turn pressured Thai authorities at Bangkok airport to seize her passport and deny her access to her connecting flight to Sydney on Saturday.

After being informed by immigration that she would be placed on a flight back to Kuwait, the young woman barricaded herself in her airport hotel room and began launching a barrage of appeals to the Twittersphere.

Gen. Surachate Hakparn said that Alqunun's father and brother arrived together in Bangkok on Tuesday but Alqunun refused to meet them.

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.

After a day of insisting that Ms Qunun must be sent back under Thai law, Mr Surachate said she would not be immediately expelled since she could be in danger and he would meet United Nations officials to discuss her case.

"We have no idea what he is going to do", he said.

Without her family's knowledge, the young Saudi rebel obtained an Australian visa and an airline ticket to Sydney, Australia, where she meant to ask for asylum.

"Canada is very concerned by and watching closely the situation of Ms. Rahaf al-Qunun", said Stefano Maron, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada.

As for providing security in light of Khashoggi's murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, he said "that's the Thai government's job and I hope that's being looked into".

Qunun is staying in a Bangkok hotel while the UNHCR processes her application for refugee status, before she can seek asylum in a third country.

"We are very grateful that the Thai authorities did not send back (al-Qunun) against her will and are extending protection to her", he said.

"Yesterday, they [social media supporters] made the difference in Rahaf's life", she said.

In a separate statement to Australia's The New Daily, the government said it is making a representation to the Thai government and UNHCR's office in Bangkok to assess Alqunun's claim "expeditiously".

Apostasy is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Thailand has never ratified the United Nations convention that recognises refugee status, and it considers refugees and asylum seekers as it would any other migrant. She alleged that she was being subjected to physical and psychological abuse by her family.

Thai Immigration Chief Surachata Hakpan said the two will have to seek permission from the U.N.'s refugee agency before gaining access to Alqunun.

The Saudi embassy at the time issued a statement referring to the case as a "family" matter. In a video clip of the meeting released by Thai immigration police, Alsheaiby is heard telling Thai officials: "From the moment she arrived, she opened a new account and her followers reached nearly 45,000 in a day".

In 2017, a young Saudi woman Dina Ali Lasloom was forcibly returned to her homeland after she was detained at Manila airport in the Philippines, and has since reportedly disappeared.

Her fate on arriving back in Saudi Arabia remains unknown.

Speaking to The Guardian, Qunun's friend Nourah Alharbi said the outpouring of support on social media had made a huge difference.

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