Canberra to decide Saudi's fate after United Nations refugee ruling

Posted January 12, 2019

The original question said, "18-year-old Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun fled Saudi Arabia as she said her family would kill her for choosing to leave Islam - do you respect her decision?"

"Rahaf Mohammed al-Qanun - mark my words - is going to start a revolution in Saudi Arabia": Mona Eltahawy.

Under Saudi Arabia's "male guardianship system", a Saudi woman is required to obtain a male relative's approval to apply for a passport, travel outside the country, study overseas on a government scholarship, get married, leave prison, or even exit a shelter for abuse victims. Human rights activists say many similar cases go unreported.

"Canada has been unequivocal that we'll stand up for human rights and women's rights around the world", Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. She barricaded herself inside a hotel room for hours until the Thai government reversed its decision to send her home.

Robertson thanked Trudeau, the UNHCR, and Canada for helping with the case. She already speaks more than passable English, in addition to Arabic.

Because al-Qunun turned up in Thailand - which is not a signatory to the United Nations convention on refugees - settlement there was not an option, prompting the United Nations and other countries to step in.

It is not clear why the Australian option fell through, and the United Nations switched to Canada.

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Australia was among the countries also considering resettling the woman, as that's where she was headed when she arrived in Bangkok on a flight from Kuwait on Saturday.

The Canada-Saudi Arabia relations have soured after a diplomatic row which was sparked by the Canadian government's call for the immediate release of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi and his sister Samar via Twitter on August 5, 2018. He added that, ultimately, the outcome was a good one.

The teenager claims she is fleeing psychological and physical violence at the hands of male members of her family. "Not sure when she will resume", tweeted Phil Roberston, Asia director of Human Rights Watch and called on Twitter to shut down those accounts.

"This is so much a victory for everyone who cares about respecting and promoting women's rights, valuing the independence of youth to forge their own way, and demanding governments operate in the light and not darkness", he said in a statement.

She barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and took her plight onto social media.

In Bangkok, Thai agents stopped Alqunun at the airport and seized her passport.

"He has 10 children".

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"The story ends today", said the head of Thailand's immigration bureau, Surachate Hakparn.

Alqunun's appeal for refugee status also underscored the severe restrictions that women in Saudi Arabia face.

"The Government will be making no further comment on this matter".

Qunun later tweeted the video of that meeting and wrote that her "Twitter account has changed the game against what he wished for me".

The foreign minister there, Marise Payne, met with senior Thai officials in Bangkok on Thursday. Thailand's immigration chief Surachate had earlier told reporters Friday that "two or three" countries were ready to offer her asylum.

She was eventually allowed to enter the country and has been processed as a refugee by the UN Refugee Agency.

Payne is also expected to discuss the case of a Bahraini footballer with Australian asylum status who has been jailed in Thailand and faces extradition back to Bahrain.

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She refused to see her father, who traveled to Thailand and expressed opposition to her resettlement.