Australia weighs Saudi woman's refugee bid

Australia weighs Saudi woman's refugee bid

Its latest statement, which described Qunun's case as a "family affair", said Saudi Arabia did not demand her deportation back home. She began by boarding a plane by herself to Thailand, but the plan quickly spiraled out of control.

The young woman is now waiting for the UNHCR to assess her claim for protection, before the application is passed to Australia.

Australian Government sources said Ms Al-Qunun would be refused entry on the tourist visa because it did not reflect the real reason for her trip.

Australia's home affairs minister has warned there will be "no special treatment" in the case of Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, the 18-year-old Saudi woman who barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to prevent her forcible return to a family she claims will kill her.

The department said it will "consider this referral in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals". "And I would have preferred it better if her phone was taken instead of her passport".

In a statement from the government, Ms Alqunun will be subject to Australian checks before she is granted a humanitarian visa, including character and security assessments.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not asked for her extradition", the country's embassy said in a tweet. On Twitter, she has expressed fear of such a meeting. Because in 2017, another Saudi Arabian woman, Dina Ali Lasloom, also tried to flee to Australia. Thai officials eventually returned her passport and allowed her to stay in the country, under the care of the United Nations, following public pressure.

Activists are concerned about what Saudi Arabia will do after Thai authorities reversed a decision to expel her and allowed Qunun to enter the country under the care of the UNHCR.

Her father is now in Bangkok and asking to speak with Qunun, Thai authorities said.

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Baloch noted the power of social media in making her plight a matter that officials could not ignore.

Qunun was detained on arrival at Bangkok and denied entry to Thailand while en route to Australia, where she said she meant to seek asylum.

Thailand has "rapidly lost its reputation for being a safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers", Andrea Giorgetta, Asia director for the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), told TIME.

She told Human Rights Watch her family had beat her while male relatives had made death threats.

Her urgent pleas for help over Twitter from an airport hotel room garnered tens of thousands of followers and the attention of the U.N.'s refugee agency, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Qunun has refused to meet her father and brother who flew to Bangkok this week, Thai immigration chief Surachate Hakparn said. It said the embassy is not communicating with the teenager, but is communicating with Thai authorities. Like Alqunun, she had set her sights on Australia and reached out for help on social media.

Within hours, a campaign sprang up on Twitter, spread by a loose network of activists around the world, prompting the Thai government to reverse a decision to force the young woman onto a plane that would return her to her family.

In a since-deleted tweet, Ms Alqunun's friends spoke about her concern for her 11-year-old sister's welfare.

Alqunun ran from this oppression, and her bravery means more people are speaking out against the terrifying Saudi regime. She was reportedly taken to a detention center in the Saudi capital and little more regarding her location or condition is known.

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