Rahaf al-Qunun: Saudi woman fleeing her family

The teenager seeking passage to asylum in Australia is admitted in Thailand temporarily

By Sohaila Barghash

Rahaf claims she was abused by her family and fears death if she was to return.

Rahaf Mohammed Al-Qunun who is seeking asylum in Australia, took a transit flight to Thailand where she was stopped upon her arrival in Bangkok on Saturday by a Saudi diplomat who seized her passport against her will.

She was therefore unable to travel to Australia and barricaded herself in a transit zone hotel room in Bangkok airport in hopes to prevent immigration officials from exiling her back to Kuwait where her family lives.

According to Thai authorities, Rahaf was denied entry to Thailand because she did not meet the requirements for a Thai visa, which is why they tried to deport her back to Kuwait.

However, Ms Mohammed al-Qunun insisted she had a visa for Australia, and that she never intended to stay in Thailand in the first place.

On Monday, police chief Mr Surachate 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.”

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun on her behalf, expressed fear of return claiming her family would kill her knowing she had renounced Islam, and therefore she refused to board a flight back on Monday.

“My life is in danger. My family threatens to kill me for the most trivial things.” Rahaf said.

Rights groups including Human Rights Watch shared their concerns for Ms Mohammed al-Qunun, who is seeking asylum in hope of finding safety.

After human rights’ watch confirmed the young woman’s claims, the Thai authorities also announced later on Monday, that Ms Mohammed Al-Qunun was “allowed to stay”, and that she “left the airport with the UNHCR”.

Additionally, police chief, Mr Surachate said earlier, the country would “take care of her as best we can”, adding: “She is now under the sovereignty of Thailand; no-one and no embassy can force her to go anywhere… Thailand is a land of smiles. We will not send anyone to die.”

This comes a strong statement in the face of Saudi culture and guardianship policy, which requires women to have permission from a male relative to work, travel, marry, and even get certain medical treatment.

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