Thai immigration warn Kuwait Airways over Saudi teen


Qunun first gained global attention when she barricaded herself in a hotel at Suvarnabhumi airport after reportedly arriving in Thailand enroute to seek asylum in Australia.

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said Ms Qunun had renounced Islam, which puts her at "serious risk" of prosecution in Saudi Arabia.

The UN has said an 18-year-old Saudi woman who fled her family is a legitimate refugee and has asked Australia to resettle her as the Twitter-led campaign to grant her asylum edged towards resolution.

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.

Saudi Arabia enforces male guardianship laws, which require that women, regardless of age, have the consent of a male relative - usually a father or husband - to travel, obtain a passport or marry.

Thai immigration officials booked her a flight back to Kuwait where her family were waiting for her, but Rahaf refused to board the flight and locked herself inside a hotel room in the airport.

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She barricaded herself in a hotel room at Suvarnabhumi airport for two days, while sending out desperate pleas for help over social media.

A United Nations spokesperson told NPR that the refugee agency has had no contact with either family member but that the father and son are communicating with Thai authorities to try to meet with Alqunun.

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.

Asylum seekers gain little sympathy from Thai authorities, who are accused of appeasing repressive countries in a diplomatic charm offensive that targets government relations at the expense of human rights.

According to the worldwide law's principle of non-refoulement, asylum seekers can not be returned to their country of origin if their life is under threat.

"We haven't heard from the Australian government yet about this, but if confirmed that would be quite shameful of the Australian government to cancel her visa knowing the threats that await her in Saudi Arabia", said Amnesty International's Middle East campaigns director Samah Hamid.

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

Qunun was stopped in Bangkok as she was trying to reach Australia to seek asylum after escaping from her family during a holiday in Kuwait.

Surachate said al-Qunun's father and brother were due to arrive soon in Bangkok, but that it was her decision whether to meet with them.

It said any application by Alqunun for a humanitarian visa would be "carefully considered" once the UNHCR process has concluded. They seemed to be irritated by the level of exposure Rahaf's case has received. "It is not political at all".

But Saudi Arabia's charge d'affairs in Bangkok, Abdullah al-Shuaibi, denied Saudi authorities were involved.

Thailand's immigration police chief, Surachet Hakpal, told CNN that he would try to set up a meeting with family members if the United Nations agency permitted it.

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Qunun said on Twitter that she was "scared" because her father arrived in Thailand yesterday, but that her passport had been returned to her. However, in repeated statements, including one issued Tuesday, the Saudi Embassy in Bangkok said it was only monitoring her situation. -Gen. Surachate Hakparn, said to reporters Tuesday that Saudi diplomats told him they are satisfied with how her case had been handled.