With Phone And Hashtag, Saudi Asylum Seeker Outflanks Thai Authorities

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

On Wednesday, Australia's Home Affairs Department confirmed to INSIDER that the UNHCR had referred al-Qunun to them "for consideration for refugee resettlement".

Qunun said sending her back would likely result in imprisonment and was "sure 100%" that her own family would k‌i‌ll her."My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair", she revealed.Robertson said Qunun's renouncement of Islam also puts her, "at serious risk of prosecution by the Saudi Arabian government".

He was held based on a conviction back in Bahrain which he and rights groups said was false and threatened with return despite having refugee status and Australian travel documents.

Thai immigration chief Surachet Hakparn, speaking to journalists outside the Saudi Embassy after meeting with Saudi officials in Bangkok on Tuesday, said officials are concerned about Qunun's safety and well-being.

She then barricaded herself in a hotel room at the airport as Thai authorities were trying to hand her over to her family.

The department said it would "consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals".

Al-Qunun was detained on arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport during transit while en route to Australia.

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.

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. Many here will say bring her to Canada.

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Qunun's case has revived interest in the plight of the footballer, who has been held in detention since his arrival in Thailand. Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun is flying to Toronto through Seoul, South Korea, said Thai immigration official Surachate Hakparn.

Alqunun's Twitter account has attracted tens of thousands of followers in less than 48 hours and her story grabbed the attention of governments, activists and well-known figures all over the world.

Her father and brother arrived in Bangkok on Tuesday, but al-Qunun "refused to see" them, according to Thai immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn, who has been caught up in the global firestorm since al-Qunun's arrival.

Alqunun tweeted that her father had arrived at the Bangkok airport, which had "scared" her, but said she felt "safe" with the UNHCR.

Since Australia has expressed concern in the past about women's rights in Saudi Arabia, it should "come forward and offer protection for this young woman", Pearson said.

Ms Alqunun fled to Thailand saying she feared her family, which she accused of abuse, would kill her. "We are very grateful that the Thai authorities did not send back (Qunun) against her will and are extending protection to her".

She claims she will be killed if she returns to Saudi Arabia. "Whether he will try to find out where she is and go harass her". Rahaf earlier thanked the online community for helping her. Twitter "has changed the game" against what the Saudi diplomats planned to do, she wrote.

"We believe in the unmatched power of the individual's voice and aim to provide a platform where marginalised voices can be seen and heard", a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.

Alqunun arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait on Saturday. In the meantime, her al-Qunun has asked that the media and public continue to pressure officials to follow-through on securing her asylum.

Saudi Arabia's wider human rights record has come under intense scrutiny since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in October. However, in repeated statements, including one issued today, the Saudi Embassy in Thailand said it is only monitoring her situation.

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