One step closer to Australia for Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun

Rahaf al-Qunun: Dad of Saudi refugee arrives in Bangkok Thailand | Daily Star

Qunun is now in the care of the UN's refugee agency in Bangkok, which is processing her case.

Al-Qunun says that she was fleeing abuse, beatings and death threats from her family.

A young Saudi woman is asking for Canada's help after tweets about her efforts to flee abuse and seek asylum overseas put her in the global spotlight.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne is due in Bangkok on Thursday for a visit arranged earlier, during which she will discuss the case of Bahrain footballer Hakeem AlAraibi, who has refugee status in Australia but is in jail in Thailand.

He said the Thai government "needs to explain why diplomats from Saudi Arabia are allowed to walk in closed areas of the Bangkok airport, seizing one of their citizen's passports".

18-year-old Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanun (C) being escorted by a Thai immigration officer (R) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials at Suvarnabhumi worldwide airport in Bangkok. "My life is in real danger if I am forced to return to Saudi Arabia".

Rahaf Mohammed Mutlaq Alqunun, 18, claims she was abducted and had her passport confiscated by Saudi Arabian diplomatic staff after she arrived at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport on Sunday.

Baloch noted the power of social media in making her plight a matter that officials could not ignore. "We are both concerned for Miss Rahaf's safety and well-being", said Surachate.

The teenager made a desperate plea for help after expressing fears her family would kill her if she were sent home, launching a social media campaign which garnered worldwide attention.

Ms Alqunun garnered worldwide attention when she took her plight to social media this week, tweeting that she had "nothing to lose".

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"Let's show moral leadership that she can be given a safe haven here in our wonderful country", she told reporters in Adelaide on Tuesday.

Thailand's immigration police chief says Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun's father and brother arrived together in Bangkok on Tuesday but Alqunun has refused to meet them.

Thai authorities reversed a decision to expel her and allowed Qunun to enter the country under the care of the UNHCR. Those women and the men who are fighting for women's rights activists who are in prison today in Saudi Arabia, they are the leaders - the vanguard of a revolution that will free Saudi women... by ending once and for all the guardianship system which is the foundation of patriarchy in Saudi Arabia...

Footage released by Thai immigration shows Abdulilah al-Shouaibi, Saudi embassy charge d'affaires in Bangkok, complaining in a meeting Tuesday with Surachate that Qunun's smartphone should have been confiscated. "She is 18 years old, she has an Australian visa, and she has the right to travel where she wishes and no government should interfere in that". Alqunun's family was abusive, she said, even more so since she had renounced Islam.

A woman in Britain had launched an online petition calling on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to grant Qunun asylum and issue her an emergency travel document.

"What is truly appalling is how the Saudi Arabian government has acted in sending an official to physically seize her passport from her in Bangkok airport worldwide transit", Mr Robertson said. It said the embassy is not communicating with the teenager, but is communicating with Thai authorities.

A Saudi activist familiar with other cases of women who have run away said they were often young and unprepared for the risks involved in seeking asylum.

Women trying to escape abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum overseas in recent years and returned home.

Alqunun "is going to start a revolution in Saudi Arabia".

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