Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Saudi teen granted Canada asylum: Thai authorities

Saudi teen granted Canada asylum: Thai authorities

The UN has said an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family is a legitimate refugee and has asked Australia to resettle her, Canberra said yesterday (Jan 9), as the Twitter-led campaign to grant her asylum edged towards resolution.

"That is something that we are pleased to do because Canada is a country that understands how important it is to stand up for human rights and to stand up for woman's rights around the world and I can confirm that we have accepted the UN's request", Mr Trudeau said.

Thailand initially said it would deport her at the request of Saudi embassy officials, barring her from travelling on to Australia where Ms Qunun said she had meant to claim asylum.

"We are in close contact with partners about her situation".

Women in Saudi Arabia are subject to male guardianship laws, which mean they need a male relative's permission to work, travel, marry, open a bank account, or even leave prison.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who is 18, arrived in Thailand on Saturday, but was initially denied entry.

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

Alqunun, from Hail in northwestern Saudi Arabia, said she feared she may have been killed if she was forced to return to her family.

Al-Qunun has told AFP her family subjected her to psychological and physical abuse and would kill her if she returned.

She barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and launched a social media campaign that drew global attention to her case.

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

In a video clip of the meeting released by Thai immigration police, Alsheaiby is heard telling Thai officials: "From the moment she arrived, she opened a new account and her followers reached nearly 45,000 in a day. and I would have preferred it better if her phone was taken instead of her passport".

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.

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun boarded a Korean Air flight from Bangkok to Seoul late on Friday night before catching a connecting flight to Canada, Thailand's immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn says.

"Canada has always been unequivocal that we will always stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world", Trudeau said.

Payne will meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Prajin Juntong as well as holding a bilateral meeting with her Thai counterpart, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, as part of her first official visit to Thailand as foreign minister.

'They don't know about my life and they don't know how my family treats me, ' she said.

Ms Payne later told reporters that Australia was assessing Ms al-Qunun's request for resettlement, but there was no specific timeframe.

Last year Saudi women took to social media wearing their abayas - a loose, all-covering robe worn in public - inside out in 2018 to protest the dress code, which is strictly enforced by police.

"Rahaf temporarily suspended her #Twitter account because she has been receiving some very nasty, very real death threats".

Despite having harnessed the power of Twitter to stave off deportation on Friday, she abruptly suspended her account, with friends saying she had received death threats.

The next day, Canada's Foreign Ministry issued a tweet calling on Saudi Arabia to "immediately release" Samar Badawi as well as "all other peaceful #humanrights activists".

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