Saudi girl in Thailand put under United Nations protection, for now

09 January, 2019, 11:29 | Author: Donnie King
  • A Saudi woman was stopped by Saudi and Kuwaiti officials when she landed in Bangkok's airport and her travel document was forcibly taken from her

In this image made from video released by Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun/Human Rights Watch, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunan views her mobile phone as she sits barricaded in a hotel room at an global airport in Bangkok, Thailand. In her initial social media pleas, Qunun said her family was powerful in Saudi society but she did not identify them.

Gen. Surachate Hakparn, said at a news conference at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport, where Alqunun is staying, that he would meet with United Nations refugee officials to discuss allowing them to see her later Monday.

"I'm sure 100 per cent they will kill me as soon as I get out of the Saudi jail", she said, adding that she was "scared" and "losing hope".

The Saudi woman told human rights groups and the media that she was stopped at Bangkok airport in transit from Kuwait and had her passport taken from her.

A representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) met Qunun at the airport and also discussed the case with Thai immigration officials. She also said she was once detained in a bedroom for six months after she cut her hair, according to Human Rights Watch.

By travelling alone and asserting her independence, she has violated the Saudi "guardianship" system where by a woman is forbidden from travelling without a male - be that a father, husband, uncle, brother or son.

"The UNHCR and I will. listen to what she wants, whether or not she wants to receive asylum to which country, and we will help coordinate". The woman revealed that she wanted to seek a refugee status in "any country that would protect me from getting harmed or killed due to leaving my religion and torture from my family".

Because she did not have a visa to enter Thailand, he said police had denied her entry and were in the process of repatriating her through the same airline she had taken, Kuwait Airlines.

"The government has made representations to the Thai government and the Bangkok office of the UNHCR about its serious concerns on this matter and the need for Ms al-Qunun's claim to be assessed expeditiously".

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

Thai authorities had refused to let her into the country, saying she had no travel documents or money.

The ultra-conservative Saudi kingdom has always been criticized for imposing some of the world's toughest restrictions on women. "No one, no embassy can force her to go anywhere", Surachate 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", Qunun told Reuters.

Her father is the governor of al-Sulaimi, a town in the northern Saudi province of Hail.

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

After meeting Tuesday with officials from the Saudi Embassy, the head of Thai immigration said they told him they are satisfied with how the case of a young Saudi woman who claims to be fleeing her abusive family has been handled.

Ms Mohammed al-Qunun tweeted that her father had arrived, "which anxious and scared me a lot", but said she felt safe "under UNHCR protection with the agreement of Thailand authorities".

She came from Kuwait on her way to Australia with the intention of applying for asylum and escaping what she described as violence by her family.


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