Saudi teen to depart Thailand for Canada asylum - Thai immigration chief

Cheryl Sanders
January 11, 2019

Saudi Arabia's guardianship system requires women to have permission from a male relative to work, travel, marry and even get medical treatment in some cases.

Footage released by Thai immigration shows Abdulilah al-Shouaibi, Saudi embassy charge d'affaires in Bangkok, complaining in a meeting Tuesday with Gen Surachate that Ms Qunun's smartphone should have been confiscated.

"We have deleted the tweet about our earlier discussion on Rahaf al-Qunun", the organization said.

"The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Ms Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement", Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed in a statement.

She quashed speculation that Alqunun might accompany her back to Australia, "because there are steps which are required in the process which Australia, and any other country considering such a matter, would have to go through". Human rights activists say many similar cases have gone unreported.

Marise Payne, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday she raised her concerns over his continued detention with the Thai authorities during her trip to the country.


The woman, who said her passport was seized after being stopped at an airport in Bangkok on Saturday, had barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign, drawing attention from around the world.

It garnered enough public and diplomatic support to convince Thai officials to admit her temporarily under the protection of United Nations officials, who granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

Last year Saudi women took to social media wearing their abayas - a loose, all-covering robe worn in public - inside out in 2018 to protest the dress code, which is strictly enforced by police.

Ms.al-Qunun's case was dealt with on a fast-track "emergency" basis in light of the urgency of her situation.

Thai immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn speaks to journalists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok on January 11, 2019 on the case of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanun. She later told reporters that Australia was assessing Alqunun's request for resettlement. Surachate described the father as being a governor in Saudi Arabia.

Thai immigration officials told Reuters that Canada had "granted her asylum", however Canadian officials told the BBC they now have "nothing to confirm" on the issue.


She meant to fly on to Australia, but barricaded herself in a hotel room in Bangkok's main airport on Sunday after Thai immigration officials attempted to deport her back to the Middle East.

"We are providing necessary security for her", he said.

Bahrain made a request to have him extradited and he is in jail, waiting for a hearing to decide his case.

Sophie McNeill, a reporter with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who has had exclusive access to al-Qunun, said Friday that al-Qunun shut down her Twitter account, but is "safe and fine".

On Friday afternoon Rahaf posted a final cryptic tweet on her profile saying "I have some good news and some bad news" - shortly after her account was deactivated in response to death threats she had faced, her friends said.


Other reports by iNewsToday

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