Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun's claim for asylum referred to Australia for consideration

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Ms Mohammed al-Qunun's twitter account later quoted a Saudi diplomat in Bangkok saying it would have been better to take her phone than her passport. We have no idea what he is going to do ... whether he will try to find out where she is and go harass her. Khashoggi, who wrote critically of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in columns for The Washington Post, had been living in self-imposed exile before he was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents. "If you sent her back to Saudi Arabia after saying that, forget about her".

In a separate interview with Reuters, Robertson revealed that the teen's father and brother have arrived in Bangkok and are demanding to meet her.

In Saudi Arabia, she would not be able to travel overseas without the permission of a male guardian, so Qanun took the opportunity during a family visit to Kuwait and boarded a flight to Bangkok with the intention of reaching Australia.

On Twitter, Rahaf has been posting updates in her situation regularly. An application for a humanitarian visa "will be carefully considered once the UNHCR process has concluded". He has called on the Thai authorities and UNHCR to assess her claim as quickly as possible. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young had earlier urged the prime minister to issue emergency travel documents for the Saudi woman and admit her into the country.

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok has rejected any role in the seizure of Qanun's passport. The embassy - and Thai officials - earlier also said that Alqunun was stopped by Thai authorities in Bangkok because she did not have a return ticket, a hotel reservation or itinerary to show she was a tourist, which appeared to have raised a red flag about the reasons for her trip.

The young woman claims she was passing through Bangkok in transit. "She is 18 years old, she has an Australian visa, and she has the right to travel where she wishes and no government should interfere in that".


The chief of immigration police Surachate Hakparn said "the Saudi Arabia embassy contacted the immigration police... and said that the girl had run away from her parents and they feared for her safety".

Ms Al-Qunun had planned to enter Australia on a tourist visa and seek asylum before she was detained by Thai authorities on Sunday.

Dubai-based human rights lawyer Rahda Stirling told 9 News that Alqunun's life could be in danger if she is repatriated to Saudi Arabia. "Thailand is a land of smiles".

But after the case received global attention she was put "under the care" of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Qanun is not the first woman to be impacted by the long arm of the Saudi guardianship system.

"We all know what the Saudi government is capable of doing on foreign soil".


With the United Nations examining her case, Rahaf is safe for now.

While Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson has backed this statement, Abdullah al-Shuaibi, charge d'affaires at the Saudi embassy in Bangkok, denied this. "I'm rahaf mohmed, formally seeking a refugee status to any country that would protect me from getting harmed or killed due to leaving my religion and torture from my family", she tweeted on Monday.

A UNHCR representative told AFP "the process is still ongoing". An airline security official told the rights watchdog that he witnessed three Middle Eastern-looking men go to the room where Lasloom was being held at an airport hotel.

The comments sparked anger on social media.

But social media is emerging as a tool to shield asylum seekers from summary deportation.


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