Saudi woman facing deportation by Thailand barricades herself

09 January, 2019, 11:30 | Author: Emmett Rice
  • Rahaf told AFP she was stopped by Saudi and Kuwaiti officials when she arrived in Suvarnabhumi airport

The UN'srefugee agency said on Tuesday it was investigating the case of Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun who fled from her family and barricaded herself inside a Bangkok airport hotel to prevent Thailand expelling her.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun has been at Bangkok's worldwide airport since Saturday when she arrived from Kuwait, saying she fears her family will kill her if she is forced to return home.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was taken to a safe location in Bangkok where United Nations staff members will interview her and process her status determination in the coming days, the Washington Post reported. According to Reuters, she escaped from Kuwait while her family was visiting the gulf country and had planned to go to Australia via Thailand to seek asylum.

Alqunun began posting on Twitter late Saturday after her passport was taken away when she arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait.

Qunun posted dozens of tweets and live videos in English and Arabic, some describing how she had barricaded herself in a hotel room.

Her pleas for asylum have also brought global attention to the obstacles women face in Saudi Arabia under male guardianship laws, which require that women, regardless of their age, have the consent of a male relative - usually a father or husband - to travel, obtain a passport or marry. "She had no further documents such as return ticket or money", he said.

"My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair", she said. "My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things".

"When I landed at the airport, someone came and said he would process the (Thai) visa but he took my passport".

The charity has also urged the Thai government to let Qunan approach the UNHCR office in Bangkok to make a refugee claim.

"They said we do not have enough evidence", she told AFP, adding she planned to appeal.

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Saudi Arabian authorities denied being involved.

Alex Turnbull, the son of Australia's former prime minister, also called on current Prime Minister Scott Morrison to intervene and prevent her expulsion to Saudi Arabia.

In a series of Tweets in Arabic and English Ms Rahaf claims that "her life will be in real danger" if she is forced to return to Saudi Arabia. They will take me to Saudi Arabia and my father will kill me, because he is so angry.

"They wanted me to pray and to wear a veil, and I didn't want to".

But he denied that her passport had been seized and that embassy officials were present inside the airport.

"The Australian government is pleased that Ms Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is having her claim for protection assessed by the UNHCR", a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said.

A young Saudi woman has fled from her family and is seeking asylum, fearing for her life after she denounced Islam.

"They will kill me because I fled and because I announced my atheism", she said, according to the New York Times.

Thai Immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said on Monday that the embassy had alerted Thai authorities to the case, and said that the woman had run away from her parents and they feared for her safety.

An airline security official told activists that Lasloom was heard "screaming and begging for help" as men carried her "with duct tape on her mouth, feet and hands" at the airport.



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