Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Saudi teen flying to Canada, Justin Trudeau says ‘pleased’ to offer asylum

BBC asks if Muslim teenager who fled Saudi ‘should be killed for leaving Islam’ Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun: Australia to process UN refugee referral
Kenny Thornton | 11 January, 2019, 22:46

Women in Saudi Arabia are subject to male guardianship laws, which mean they need a male relative's permission to work, travel, marry, open a bank account, or even leave prison.

The UN's refugee agency has ruled Saudi woman Rahaf Al-Qunun is a refugee.

Activists have called on Thai authorities to "show humanity" to Alaraibi in the same way that they had to Qunun.

Sophie McNeill, a reporter with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who has had exclusive access to Alqunun, said Friday in a Twitter posting that Alqunun "is safe and fine".

Her case came to attention this week when she barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to resist being sent home to Saudi Arabia.

The Australian newspaper, however, reported she was likely to go to Canada after the United Nations High Commission for Refugees withdrew its referral to Australia to take Ms Qunun as a refugee.

The office of Canada's foreign minister however, said it could not confirm that asylum had been granted.

She then started a social media campaign, live-tweeting her case and attracting worldwide attention.

Ms. Payne's visit has also thrown a spotlight on another refugee case, involving Bahrain footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia but was arrested at Bangkok airport previous year after arriving for his honeymoon.

She was then allowed to enter Thailand and processed as a refugee.

Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun has been granted asylum in Australia, according to a Thai official.

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"She needs to be protected from those who want to murder her, and should promptly be given asylum in Australia", the commentary said.

She said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport when she arrived in Bangkok and tricked her into handing over her passport and ticket, saying he would secure a visa.

The 18-year-old, who claimed to be fleeing abuse from her family, boarded a Korean Air flight from Bangkok to Seoul before taking a connecting flight to Canada.

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. and I would have preferred it better if her phone was taken instead of her passport".

Experts agree the media focus on al-Qunun's case has put pressure on officials in Thailand - which usually have little sympathy for asylum seekers - to act quickly.

"I spend a lot of time critiquing the refugee process", she said, "but this is one case where it seems to be working".

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun's appeal for refugee status has underscored the severe restrictions that women in Saudi Arabia face.

Wong said every case had to be considered on its merits. "I do note that there are legal proceedings underway in relation to Mr.al-Araibi and Australia will continue to be in very close contact with Thai authorities in relation to this", she said.

"Rahaf temporarily suspended her #Twitter account because she has been receiving some very nasty, very real death threats".

Qunun later tweeted the video of that meeting and wrote that her "Twitter account has changed the game against what he wished for me".

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