Saudi teenager seeking asylum may get fast-tracked refugee status

Saudi teenager seeking asylum may get fast-tracked refugee status

The story of the 18-year-old Saudi women who fled her family seeking asylum to reclaim her rights has been the talk of the town for the past few days with the trending hashtag 'Save Rahaf' on Twitter.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, pictured at Bangkok airport, says she "wants to be free" away from Saudi Arabia.

"Any application by Ms Alqunun for a humanitarian visa will be carefully considered once the UNHCR process has concluded", a Home Affairs official told AFP news agency.

The UNHCR in Bangkok has been contacted for comment but has yet to respond.

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

Al-Qunun then barricaded herself inside an airport's hotel room, refusing to come out until she was granted a meeting with United Nations officials.

"I'm shouting out for help of humanity", she wrote on Twitter, where she had been documenting her situation in Arabic and English.

But a government source told The Australian the visa had not been revoked.

"She is going to be found as a refugee because she has made very clear that she has renounced Islam ..." Gen. Surachate Hakparn, the young woman's father and brother were due to arrive soon in Bangkok, but it would be Alqunun's decision whether to meet with them.

In 2017, Dina Ali Lasloom triggered a firestorm online when she was stopped en route to Australia, where she planned to seek asylum.

A group called the Secret Sisterhood has set up a GoFundMe page to raise cash for Qunun once she is resettled in another country.

Mueller Believes Manafort Shared 2016 Polling Data With Alleged Russian Intel Agent
The lawyers said Ukraine-related matters "simply were not at the forefront of Mr Manafort's mind during the period at issue". The conspiracy charges against Manafort are related to his consulting work advising pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine.

She earlier barricaded herself in a Thai hotel room, refusing to leave until the United Nations intervened.

Even though Thailand has at least 100,000 refugees within its borders, the country is not a signatory to the UNHRC and has no legal protection to those who seek asylum.

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. "This should be the standard for any individual who claims that his or her life is in danger". "We will not send anyone to die".

Saudi Arabia remains one of the world's most repressive countries for women.

Within hours of launching the petition it had secured thousands of signatures. And if all else failed and she was forced on the Kuwait Airways jet, an activist in India was ready with a "bomb scare" tweet to stop the flight from leaving.

Speaking to Reuters via text and audio messages she alleged her family had threatened to kill her.

Human Rights Watch Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson questioned a statement by Thailand's immigration chief to the BBC that Alqunun did not have a travel visa for the Asian country, saying she was in transit to Australia when she was detained and did not need a visa, which is available on arrival anyway.

"It is very incredible that the Australian government have offered her an asylum, given that the Australian government is not well known for its well treatment of refugees", said McNeil, who spent hours with Alqunun in her hotel room at the airport in Bangkok.

"If she is found to be a refugee, then we will give very, very, very serious consideration to a humanitarian visa", Health Minister Greg Hunt told public broadcaster ABC.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not asked for her extradition".

Saudi Arabia's human rights record has been under heavy scrutiny since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi past year.

Related Articles