Thai, Saudi officials meet over case of young Saudi woman seeking asylum

Thai, Saudi officials meet over case of young Saudi woman seeking asylum

The father and brother of a Saudi teenager who was detained in Bangkok after fleeing a family she claims will kill her are, according to police, due to arrive in Thailand imminently, where she is not being deported home as initially feared.

Alqunun arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait on Saturday, and planned to continue to Australia, for which she held a tourist visa.

But Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun's father and brother would have to wait and see whether the United Nations refugee agency would allow them to see her, immigration chief Surachate Hakpan said.

Alharbi mentioned the case of Dina Ali Lasloom, a 24-year-old Saudi woman who in April 2017 was returned to Saudi Arabia from the Philippines against her will and whose fate is unclear.

She soon started posting messages on Twitter from the transit area of Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport saying she had "escaped Kuwait" and her life would be in danger if forced to return to Saudi Arabia.

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The Thai government allowed her to enter the country temporarily under the protection of the UNHCR while her case was being assessed.

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Its latest statement, which described Qunun's case as a "family affair", said Saudi Arabia did not demand her deportation back home. "We have no idea what he is going to do. whether he will try to find out where she is and go harass her", Robertson said.

The official did not confirm or deny if the visa had been revoked, but said it would make no difference to her bid to reach Australia.

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. He said it was "too early to tell" if she will be granted asylum or refugee status. She revealed to the BBC that the she is fearing her life because she is an apostate, an act that is considered a crime and is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told ABC TV on January 8 the government had successfully requested the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to process her case quickly.

"Al-Qunun says she doesn't want to meet with her father or brother".

Alqunun is reportedly the daughter of a high-ranking Saudi official. Both countries have said she was stopped because she didn't have a return ticket, hotel reservation or itinerary with her upon arrival.

The Department for Home Affairs said it was "pleased" at the developments and had made representations to the Thai government about its "serious concerns on this matter and the need for Alqunun's claim to be assessed expeditiously".

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Rahaf also accused her family of subjecting her to physical and psychological abuse.

Even though Thailand has at least 100,000 refugees within its borders, the country is not a signatory to the UNHRC and has no legal protection to those who seek asylum.

"She has violated Saudi laws in seeking to travel without the permission of her male guardian and has now further violated a number of laws and outraged the regime".

"She is now under the sovereignty of Thailand; no-one and no embassy can force her to go anywhere", he said.

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Thailand on January 8 denied reports that Saudi Arabia had requested her extradition, according to Reuters.

He then "heard her screaming and begging for help from her room, after which he saw them carry her out with duct tape on her mouth, feet and hands".

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