Published: Mon, January 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Saudi teen held at Bangkok airport fears she will be killed

Saudi teen held at Bangkok airport fears she will be killed

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun began posting on Twitter late Saturday after her passport was taken away when she arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait.

The Guardian has confirmed Qunun had a three-month multiple-entry tourist visa for Australia, where she said she was intending to seek asylum, apparently contradicting reported statements by Thai authorities that she did not have the required documents to travel to Australia from Bangkok.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, a Saudi woman who claims to be fleeing her country and family and is now in Bangkok, Thailand, is shown in this undated photo obtained by Reuters from social media.

I want asylum, ' Al-Qunun said, referring to the United Nations refugee agency, in a video sent from her hotel room at the airport.

"I'm afraid, my family WILL kill me", she said on Twitter, where she shared her photograph, passport details and name, saying she had "nothing to lose".

She said she had planned to travel to Australia and seek asylum there, and feared she would be killed if she was repatriated by Thai immigration officials who stopped her during transit on Sunday.

Alqunun is now confined in a hotel inside the airport, watched by men she said were from the Saudi embassy and Kuwait Airlines.

Qunun maintains she will be killed if she is made to return to Saudi Arabia and has said she will not leave until she can see the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Robertson said.

He argued that the Thai authorities had clearly co-operated with Saudi Arabia as Saudi officials were able to met the plane when it arrived.

"Thai authorities should immediately halt any deportation, and either allow her to continue her travel to Australia or permit her to remain in Thailand to seek protection as a refugee".

In a tweet she said: "Australia needs to help this young woman urgently!"

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However, the teenager spoke to the officers and later returned to the hotel, human rights workers who interviewed her said.

"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", he said.

Rahaf is being held in an airport hotel guarded by security officials.

An 18-year-old Saudi woman fleeing her family barricaded herself inside a Thai airport hotel on Monday, refusing to allow immigration officials to escort her on to a flight to Kuwait and saying she fears her family will kill her. Dina Ali Lasloom, 24, was en route from Kuwait via the Philippines but was taken back to Saudi Arabia from Manila airport by her family. Saudi and Thai officials then told her she would be returned to Kuwait on Monday, where her father and brother are awaiting her. A spokesman for Kuwait Airways said he had no information about the case.

They deny acting at the request of the Saudi government.

"The UN Refugee Agency has been following developments closely and has been trying to seek access from the Thai authorities to meet with Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, to assess her need for worldwide protection", it said in a statement on Monday.

The ultra-conservative Saudi kingdom has always been criticised for imposing some of the world's toughest restrictions on women.

He added that there is "impunity" within the family unit in Saudi Arabia to abuse women.

Saudi Arabia has always been under the spotlight for its appalling record on women's rights, including a guardianship system that allows men to control the lives of their female relatives.

She also explained she is trying to flee both physical and psychological abuse in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has come under fierce criticism following the murder of dissident journalist Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul consulate on October 2 - a case that stunned the world.

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