Australia will formally consider asylum claim of Saudi woman in Bangkok




 

Australia has said it will formally consider the asylum claim of a Saudi woman fleeing her family after the United Nations assessed her case and ruled that she was a genuine refugee.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, took to Twitter on Monday to plead for her life after she was stopped by Saudi officials and Thai immigration officers during a transit through Bangkok airport while on route to Australia, where she wanted to start an asylum process.

Her passport was confiscated and she barricaded herself in an airport hotel room to avoid being deported on a flight to Kuwait. The teenager then gripped the world with her desperate cries for help via social media.

She claimed she was escaping from her family who had subjected her to physical and psychological abuse and that she feared she would be killed if she was sent home to Saudi Arabia. Her family have not commented on the allegations, although her father travelled to Bangkok to try to speak to her.

Ms al-Qunun's panicked efforts to escape repatriation generated a global media frenzy and prompted a U-turn by the Thai authorities who allowed her to be taken into the protection of the United Nations office for Refugees (UNHCR).

The UNHCR initially said it could take days to process her case, but had decided by Wednesday morning that she was a genuine refugee and referred her to Australia for resettlement.

The decision was made public by Australia's Department of Home Affairs, which said it would consider the referral from the UN in the usual way.

In a Twitter update on Wednesday, Ms al-Qunun thanked her 107,000 followers for their "support in my difficult psychological situation" and said that she had "regained my strength" after a dramatic few days.

Her extraordinary use of social media to highlight her plight had managed to spark an international outcry and #SaveRahaf campaign within hours of her detention, attracting human rights activists and diplomats to advocate on her behalf.

"Everybody was watching. When social media works, this is what happens," Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.

The Saudi embassy in Bangkok has not publicly commented on Ms al-Qunun's case since it initially claimed on Monday that she had tried to enter Thailand without the right papers, a charge which she denied.

On Tuesday, the Thai immigration office released a video clip of its officials meeting Saudi diplomats to discuss the case.

"When she first arrived in Thailand, she opened a new site (account) and the followers reached about 45,000 within one day," a Saudi official speaking in Arabic through a translator tells Thai officials in the video.

"I wish you had taken her phone, it would have been better than (taking) her passport," the official said.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Medical examiner: Saudi sisters found on banks of Hudson River committed suicide
Medical examiner: Saudi sisters found on banks of Hudson River committed suicide

The Saudi Arabian sisters whose bodies were found taped together along the Hudson River in October committed suicide, a medical examiner determined.

'Frozen' Niagara Falls photos spread across social media
'Frozen' Niagara Falls photos spread across social media

Niagara Falls tourists flocked to social media to document the freezing phenomenon.

Saudi Aramco eyes multi-billion-dollar U.S. gas acquisitions: CEO
Saudi Aramco eyes multi-billion-dollar U.S. gas acquisitions: CEO

Saudi Aramco, the world's top oil producer, is looking to acquire natural gas assets in the United States and is willing to spend "billions of dollars" there as it aims to become a global gas player, the company's CEO said on Tuesday. "We have agreed to bring an additional $10 billion in the Motiva refining complex," said the chief executive, attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Aramco is pushing ahead with its conventional and unconventional gas exploration and production program to feed its fast-growing industries, freeing up more crude oil to export or turn into chemicals.

Turkey planning international investigation into Khashoggi case: minister
Turkey planning international investigation into Khashoggi case: minister
  • World
  • 2019-01-22 07:51:55Z

Turkey is planning to launch an international investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and will take further steps in coming days, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was quoted as saying by state-owned media. Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of Saudi Arabia'

Taiwan
Taiwan's 'Bikini Climber' social media star dies after ravine fall

Taiwanese rescue teams were trying Tuesday to retrieve the body of a dead hiker who became famous on social media for taking selfies on top of mountain peaks dressed in a bikini. Gigi Wu -- dubbed the "Bikini Climber" by fans -- used a satellite phone on Saturday to tell friends she had fallen down a ravine in Taiwan's Yushan national park and badly injured herself. "The weather conditions in the mountains are not good, we have asked our rescuers to move the body to a more open space and after the weather clears we will make a request for a helicopter to bring the body down," Lin Cheng-yi, from the Nantou County Fire and Rescue Services, told reporters.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.