A SAUDI WOMAN WHO FLED HER FAM­ILY IN FEAR FOR HER LIFE WAS AD­MIT­TED INTO THAILAND MON­DAY WHILE THE UN’S REFUGEE AGENCY AS­SESSES HER ASY­LUM CLAIM.

PressReader - LStep Channel - A SAUDI WOMAN WHO FLED HER FAM­ILY IN FEAR FOR HER LIFE WAS AD­MIT­TED INTO THAILAND MON­DAY WHILE THE UN’S REFUGEE AGENCY AS­SESSES HER ASY­LUM CLAIM.
BANGKOK • An 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her fam­ily over al­leged abuse and bar­ri­caded her­self in a Bangkok air­port ho­tel room in a des­per­ate bid for asy­lum will be al­lowed to stay in Thailand while her case is eval­u­ated by the UN refugee agency, im­mi­gra­tion author­i­ties said Mon­day.Ra­haf Mo­hammed Alqu­nun grabbed global at­ten­tion when she sent out pleas for help via so­cial me­dia, say­ing she feared for her life if she were put on a plane back to Kuwait or her home­land.In­stead, she has been al­lowed to en­ter Thailand tem­po­rar­ily un­der the pro­tec­tion of the UN refugee agency, which was ex­pected to take about five to seven days to study her case and her claim for asy­lum. She said she wants to go to Aus­tralia to seek refuge there.“We will not send any­one to die. We will not do that. We will ad­here to hu­man rights un­der the rule of law,” said Thai Im­mi­gra­tion Po­lice chief Maj. Gen. Su­rachate Hak­parn.Alqu­nun’s or­deal be­gan when she fled from her fam­ily while in Kuwait and boarded a flight to Thailand, ap­par­ently tak­ing ad­van­tage of be­ing away from Saudi re­stric­tions on women who can­not travel abroad with­out a man’s con­sent.Upon ar­riv­ing at Bangkok’s air­port Satur­day, she said she was met by a man whom she iden­ti­fied at var­i­ous times as ei­ther a Kuwait Air­ways em­ployee or a Saudi diplo­mat, who took her pass­port and said he would help her gain en­try to Thailand. Saudi of­fi­cials deny be­ing in­volved in any way.When the man re­turned about an hour later with four or five oth­ers, they said they knew she had run away, that her fam­ily wanted her back, and she should go home to Saudi Ara­bia. She was sent to a ho­tel room, and told she would be put on a Mon­day morn­ing flight to Kuwait.She then went on­line, send­ing out pleas for as­sis­tance over Twit­ter, and also bar­ri­caded her ho­tel room door. Global at­ten­tion was sparked by so­cial me­dia and she did not get on the sched­uled flight to Kuwait.Alqu­nun wrote of be­ing in “real dan­ger” if forced to re­turn to her fam­ily in Saudi Ara­bia, and said in me­dia in­ter­views that she might be killed.She told the BBC that she had re­nounced Is­lam and was fear­ful of her fa­ther’s re­tal­i­a­tion.

Ra­haf Mo­hammed Alqu­nun

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