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U.N. officials interview Saudi teen asylum seeker in Thailand


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U.N. officials interview Saudi teen asylum seeker in Thailand

By Panu Wongcha-um

 

 

2019-01-08T052031Z_1_LYNXNPEF0707H_RTROPTP_4_THAILAND-SAUDI.JPG

UNHCR representative Giuseppe De Vincentiis (L) walks with Thai Immigration authorities to the hotel at the transit area at Suvarnabhumi Airport where Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, an 18-year-old Saudi woman who claims to be fleeing her family has barricaded herself in Bangkok, Thailand January 7, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

 

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday said it was investigating the case of an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her and barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to avoid being sent back.

 

Lawmakers and activists in Australia and Britain urged their governments to grant asylum to Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, who was finally allowed by Thailand to enter the country late on Monday, after nearly 48 hours stranded at Bangkok airport under threat of being expelled.

 

She is staying in a Bangkok hotel with her application for refugee status being processed by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) before she can seek asylum in a third country.

 

UNHCR staff were interviewing her on Tuesday after meeting her the day before.

 

"It could take several days to process the case and determine next steps," UNHCR's Thailand representative Giuseppe de Vincentiis said in a statement.

 

"We are very grateful that the Thai authorities did not send back (Qunun) against her will and are extending protection to her," he said.

 

The case has drawn new global attention to Saudi Arabia's strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

 

It comes at a time when Riyadh is facing unusually intense scrutiny from its Western allies over the killing of a journalist at its consulate in Istanbul in October and over the humanitarian consequences of its war in Yemen.

 

Qunun's plight unfolded on social media, drawing support from around the world, which convinced Thai authorities to back down from sending her back to Saudi Arabia.

 

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Thailand denied reports that Riyadh had requested her extradition.

 

In Australia, a senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, called on her government, through social media, to issue Qunun an emergency travel document so she could fly to Australia to seek asylum.

 

The Australian government said it was monitoring the case closely highlighting that "the claims made by Ms Al-Qunun that she may be harmed if returned to Saudi Arabia are deeply concerning", said a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

 

A woman in Britain had launched an online petition calling on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to grant Qunan asylum and issue her an emergency travel document.

 

Within hours of launching the petition it had secured thousands of signatures.

 

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Additional reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-01-08
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Yes we trust in Saudi Arabia.. they got a lot of credibility at the moment so so we should take their statements as the truth. 🤣

 

Good that she is probably getting asylum.

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4 minutes ago, pegman said:

One thing about the Big Joke is that he always travels with a big entourage. I wonder if he thinks that makes his lies more credable?

Probably not so easy to assassinate.

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4 minutes ago, pegman said:

One thing about the Big Joke is that he always travels with a big entourage. I wonder if he thinks that makes his lies more credable?

No just gives him more lackeys to scapegoat.😁

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1 hour ago, webfact said:

Qunun's plight unfolded on social media, which convinced Thai authorities to back down from sending her back to Saudi Arabia.

If "convinced" means being scrutinized by the whole world and therefore trying not to embarrass oneself, then yes, Thai authorities were "convinced", and especially Prawit, Big Joke's Bigger Joke.

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BJ doesn't look happy here! Nice to see that he has finally been caught out for crawling to the wrong master. Was he trying to impress / do a favor for the Saudis, or could he have been acting on Porky Prawit's orders in saying that it was a family matter and the girl was being deported?

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12 minutes ago, bangkokfrog said:

BJ doesn't look happy here! Nice to see that he has finally been caught out for crawling to the wrong master. Was he trying to impress / do a favor for the Saudis, or could he have been acting on Porky Prawit's orders in saying that it was a family matter and the girl was being deported?

Definitely the later.

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1 hour ago, pegman said:

One thing about the Big Joke is that he always travels with a big entourage. I wonder if he thinks that makes his lies more credable?

Why are there no women in the 'entourage'?  that is a big group of big men going to visit one 18 year old girl.

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1 minute ago, fantom said:

Why are there no women in the 'entourage'?  that is a big group of big men going to visit one 18 year old girl.

They're probably all off claiming political asylum, worried in case Big Joke makes one of them a scapegoat.

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Father of Saudi teen asylum seeker in Thailand, seeks meeting

By Panu Wongcha-um

 

2019-01-08T051150Z_1_LYNXNPEF07077_RTROPTP_4_THAILAND-SAUDI.JPG

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, a Saudi woman who claims to be fleeing her country and family, is seen in Bangkok, Thailand January 7, 2019 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. TWITTER/ @rahaf84427714/via REUTERS

 

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The father of an 18-year-old Saudi woman asylum seeker who fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her, has arrived in Bangkok and wished to meet his daughter, Thailand's immigration chief said on Tuesday.

 

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

 

"The father and brother want to go and talk to Rahaf but the UN will need to approve such talk," Surachate told reporters.

 

The U.N. refugee agency on Tuesday said it was investigating Qunun's case after she fled to Thailand saying she feared her family would kill her if she were sent back to Saudi Arabia.

 

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.

 

"The father is now here in Thailand and that's a source of concern," Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch's deputy director for Asia, told Reuters.

 

"We have no idea what he is going to do ... whether he will try to find out where she is and go harass her. We don't know whether he is going to try to get the embassy to do that."

 

Lawmakers and activists in Australia and Britain urged their governments to grant asylum to Qunun, who was finally allowed by Thailand to enter the country late on Monday, after nearly 48 hours stranded at Bangkok airport under threat of being expelled.

 

She is staying in a Bangkok hotel while the UNHCR processes her application for refugee status, before she can seek asylum in a third country.

 

UNHCR staff were interviewing her on Tuesday after meeting her the day before.

 

"It could take several days to process the case and determine next steps," UNHCR's Thailand representative Giuseppe de Vincentiis said in a statement.

 

"We are very grateful that the Thai authorities did not send back (Qunun) against her will and are extending protection to her," he said.

 

'FAMILY MATTER'

The case has drawn new global attention to Saudi Arabia's strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male "guardian" to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

 

It comes at a time when Riyadh is facing unusually intense scrutiny from its Western allies over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October and over the humanitarian consequences of its war in Yemen.

 

Qunun's plight unfolded on social media, drawing support from around the world, which convinced Thai authorities to back down from sending her back to Saudi Arabia.

 

Saudi Arabia's embassy in Thailand denied reports that Riyadh had requested her extradition.

 

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not asked for her extradition. The embassy considers this issue a family matter," the embassy said in a post on Twitter.

 

The Thai immigration chief said on Monday the embassy had alerted Thai authorities to the case, and said that the woman had run away from her parents and they feared for her safety.

 

In Australia, a senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, called on her government, through social media, to issue Qunun an emergency travel document so she could fly to Australia to seek asylum.

 

The Australian government said it was monitoring the case closely. A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said "the claims made by Ms Al-Qunun that she may be harmed if returned to Saudi Arabia are deeply concerning."

 

A woman in Britain had launched an online petition calling on Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to grant Qunan asylum and issue her an emergency travel document.

 

Within hours of launching the petition it had secured thousands of signatures.

 

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um, Patpicha Tanakasempipat, and Panarat Thepgumpanat in BANGKOK and Maher Chmaytelli in DUBAI; Editing by Robert Birsel)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-01-08
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when are people going to realise this she is an adult and is entitled to make her own decisions and life choices something she doesn't generally get to do in her home country who are in the dark ages when it comes to womens rights - it's as bad as black slavery in America 

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Why do the UNHCR need a few days. Simple question 'so it seems you renounced Islam?' well we already know the answer from your twitter/facebook, so I guess there no point looking at all the other accusations because our job is simple to determine if your legit refugee and there's no way that's it can ever be safe to return now if you've renounced islam (death sentence in SA), oh thanks coffee? 

 

Sadly dragging the feet in Thailand means waiting for the media storm to blow over and the someone to fill the brown envelopes

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2 hours ago, smedly said:

when are people going to realise this she is an adult and is entitled to make her own decisions and life choices something she doesn't generally get to do in her home country who are in the dark ages when it comes to womens rights - it's as bad as black slavery in America 

 

It pains me to say that the age of majority in Thailand is 20.

 

Rights and Duties of a Parent and Child in Thailand | Thailand Law by ..

 

 

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While - having heard about customs and law in that country - I am in favour of the woman.

But - we know only one side of the story. Why not interview the father, then if the interview does not show violent behavior - let her talk to his daughter, after checking him for arms and in the presence of qualified people. And in a neutral location.

We don't know - may be he is a decent man who loves his daughter and wants the best for her?

 

Which does not mean that she has to go back to that stone age country. She is old enough to decide where to live.

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