Tuesday, 25 June, 2019


Saudi teen runaway due in Toronto after Canada grants her asylum

Saudi teen runaway due in Toronto after Canada grants her asylum Saudi teen runaway due in Toronto after Canada grants her asylum
Bennie Garza | 11 January, 2019, 22:47

Alqunun's case has again highlighted the precarious cause of women's rights in Saudi Arabia.

"When the United Nations made a request of us that we grant Ms.al-Qunun asylum, we accepted", Trudeau said.

The prime minister was asked about whether Canada would accept Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, as a refugee during a media availability in Regina on Friday.

When pressed if Australia had cancelled al-Qunun's visa after she was arrested, Payne declined to comment.

She soon started posting messages on Twitter after barricading herself in a room in Bangkok's airport hotel saying she had "escaped Kuwait" and her life would be in danger if forced to return 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.

It led to her referral to Australia on Wednesday.

Human rights campaigners say many similar cases have gone unreported.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne speaks to the press at the Australian embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, January 10, 2019.

Qunun arrived at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport in transit from Kuwait last Saturday, when she was denied entry by Thai immigration officials.

She commended Thailand for referring al-Qunun's case to the UNHCR and reiterated that Australia was now engaged in the assessment process of her asylum claim as required.

Surachate discussed Alqunun's situation on Tuesday with Saudi Charge d'Affaires in Thailand Abdalelah Mohammed A. Alsheaiby.

Hakparn said Canada had also offered Qunun asylum and they were waiting for her decision.

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.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, will be boarding a Korean Air flight from Bangkok to Seoul on Friday night, immigration chief Surachate Hakpark said, before boarding a connecting flight to Canada.

"Another young Saudi girl - another genuine refugee - was dragged back from an airport to Saudi Arabia to a presumably terrible fate while trying to escape the country in 2017".

She raised Australia's concerns with Thai officials about Hakeem al-Araibi, a 25-year-old former member of Bahrain's national soccer team who was granted refugee status in Australia in 2017 after fleeing his homeland, where he said he was persecuted and tortured.

She was on her way to Australia when she was stopped by Thai authorities.

Reuters cited the Thai immigration chief as the source who said Alqunun was going to Canada - which has been in a simmering months-long diplonatic spat with Saudi Arabia. "We are sorry the original wording about 'respecting her decision" was open to misinterpretation".

'Rahaf received death threats and for this reason she closed her Twitter account, please save Rahaf life, ' @nourahfa313 wrote.

"She's just been receiving a lot of death threats".

Payne is also expected to discuss the case of a Bahraini footballer with Australian asylum status who has been jailed in Thailand and faces extradition back to Bahrain.

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