Rahaf Al-Qunun Referred To Australia For Refugee Resettlement By UNHCR

Rahaf Al-Qunun Referred To Australia For Refugee Resettlement By UNHCR

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun was stopped at a Bangkok airport on Saturday by Thai immigration police who denied her entry and seized her passport. No other details were immediately offered.

She soon started posting messages on Twitter from the transit area of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport saying she had "escaped Kuwait" and her life would be in danger if forced to return to Saudi Arabia.

Ms Alqunun and her supporters drew global attention to her case through a social media campaign launched mostly on Twitter.

Qunun alleged that she was abused by her family - who deny the allegations - and rights groups also said she had renounced Islam, risking prosecution in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qunun's case has raised the state of women's rights in Saudi Arabia, where several women have been caught trying to seek asylum after fleeing their homes. Human rights activists have seen no trace of her since.

Visiting Thailand on Thursday, Payne praised her hosts for their handling of the case of the young Saudi woman fleeing her family to seek asylum in Australia, but said she also reminded them of continuing concern about a Bahraini soccer player granted asylum in Australia who is in Thai detention.

"Even in Canada, she'll need to be conscious of her security, but this is a real victory for women's rights", she said.

In response, Saudi Arabia accused Canada of interfering in its internal affairs and expelled the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia and recalled its own ambassador from Ottawa.

Alqunun's appeal for refugee status also underscored the severe restrictions that women in Saudi Arabia face.

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The top Australian diplomat was expected to meet with Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Prajin Juntong and hold a bilateral meeting with her Thai counterpart, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, to discuss Qunun's case.

Around mid-day on Friday, her Twitter account, @rahaf84427714, went offline after she posted that she had "bad and good news!"

Mai, who identified as a 36-year-old physician, said she was embarrassed to have two children and a degree from Harvard University but still be viewed as a minor.

"She's just been receiving a lot of death threats", McNeill said on Twitter. Among those arrested was Samar Badawi, whose family members fled to Canada in 2015 and have since become Canadian citizens.

"She needs to be protected from those who want to murder her, and should promptly be given asylum in Australia", the commentary said.

Ms. Payne's visit has also thrown a spotlight on another refugee case, involving Bahrain footballer Hakeem al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia but was arrested at Bangkok airport past year after arriving for his honeymoon.

"At the time of the UNHCR's referral to Canada on January 11, the assessment of Ms Al-Qunun's case by Australian officials was progressing".

"Canada has been unequivocal that we'll stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world", Trudeau said. "When the United Nations made a request of us that we grant al-Qunun's asylum, we accepted".

Saudi Arabia's human rights record has come under heavy scrutiny since the brutal murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi past year at its consulate in Turkey. She was admitted to Thailand on Monday while the United Nations processed her request.

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