World Media

Saudi woman Rahaf al-Qunun: Australia would 'consider' asylum bid

Saudi woman Rahaf al-Qunun: Australia would 'consider' asylum bid

The department said it would consider the referral "in the usual way, as it does with all UNHCR referrals".

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. She had hoped to travel to Australia where she has friends before she was detained at the Bangkok airport this past weekend and threatened with deportation.

The UNHCR is now evaluating her asylum claim, which is expected to take up to a week. However, in repeated statements, including one issued Tuesday, the Saudi Embassy in Thailand said it is only monitoring her situation.

Immigration Minister David Coleman is "very likely" to grant asylum to Ms Al-Qunun, subject to normal security vetting processes, according to The Australian.

She said: "They will kill me".

On Wednesday, Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed that it was considering her resettlement request, suggesting that UNHCR verified Alqunun as a legitimate refugee - a process that can take years - in just two days.

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.

"We welcome the leadership shown by the Thai authorities in Rahaf's case", the group's Middle East director of campaigns, Samah Hadid, said in a statement.

She is now in the care of United Nations officials after claiming her family would kill her if she were sent home to Saudi Arabia, where she has renounced Islam and "rebelled" against her father.

Thailand is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and provides no legal protection to asylum seekers, although there are more than 100,000 refugees in the country.

AS Monaco complete signing of Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas from Chelsea
But a move for midfielder William Vainqueur from Turkish club Antalyaspor fell through, after he failed a medical due to a calf problem.

On Monday evening local time, Thailand's chief of immigration police, Surachate Hakparn, said the country would "take care of her as best we can". 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.

Saudi Arabia remains one of the world's most repressive countries for women. "She is 18 years old, she has an Australian visa, and she has the right to travel where she wishes and no government should interfere in that".

Her father, a Saudi government official, and brother landed in the capital last night and immediately asked to see Ms Alqunun, AAP reports. After facing pressure from reporters, activists, and the UNHCR, Thai authorities granted al-Qunun access to UNHCR to assess her asylum claim.

Footage released by Thai immigration shows Abdulilah al-Shouaibi, Saudi embassy charge d'affaires in Bangkok, complaining in a meeting Tuesday with Surachate that Qunun's smartphone should have been confiscated.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the activist said there had been instances where Saudi women runaways were stopped by authorities in Hong Kong or the Philippines en route to Australia or New Zealand.

"It has been reported that Rahaf had a Visa to go to Australia, and meant to apply for asylum".

Qunun has said she believes she will be imprisoned or killed if sent back, and that her family is so strict it once locked her in a room for six months for cutting her hair.

Women trying to escape abuse by their families have been caught trying to seek asylum overseas in recent years and returned home.

Qunun told the world of her plight on social media, drawing widespread concern.

Saudi Arabia's human rights record has been under heavy scrutiny since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi past year.


  • Man dies after being decapitated by a helicopter blade

    The sheriff would not say what kind of aircraft was involved, other than that it was a civilian craft. Local TV stations showed one of the helicopter's main rotors badly splintered after the impact.
    Arsenal boss Unai Emery reveals he is adapting his intense training sessions

    Arsenal boss Unai Emery reveals he is adapting his intense training sessions

    When asked whether he would give players a break or make changes to his training regime, Emery answered: 'We are doing that. He told Arsenal's official website : "I think the most important thing for me is hard work and that day-to-day learning.
    Driver crashed while participating in 'Bird Box Challenge'

    Driver crashed while participating in 'Bird Box Challenge'

    The 17-year-old driver, her 16-year-old passenger and the occupants of the other auto all escaped serious injury. When the movie first came out, Netflix gave a clear warning to viewers to not try the unsafe challenge.
  • Scientists in Okanagan Valley detect radio bursts from distant galaxy

    Scientists in Okanagan Valley detect radio bursts from distant galaxy

    While a bunch of FRBs have been detected previously, this is only the second time one's been observed to repeat itself. These radio bursts are only millisecond-long radio flashes, and such rapid bursts themselves aren't rare in space.
    Woman suddenly can't hear any male voices overnight

    Woman suddenly can't hear any male voices overnight

    It has been linked to genetics and can be triggered by certain diseases (for example, Ménière's disease) and viral infections. A Chinese woman has made headlines after she woke up unable to hear male voices, according to The Daily Mail .
    Statement by Premier Ford on the OC Transpo Bus Crash

    Statement by Premier Ford on the OC Transpo Bus Crash

    He said police are now investigating what caused the collision; six officers were on site to look into the matter. The driver of the bus was "detained on the scene and will be questioned at our police station", Bordeleau said.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tweets his divorce announcement

    Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tweets his divorce announcement

    Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing after 25 years of marriage, according to a tweet Wednesday from the Amazon CEO. The statement did not mention how the two will split that fortune , though experts believed that's already been hashed out.
    Transfers: Competition hotting up to sign Chelsea striker, director confirms interest

    Transfers: Competition hotting up to sign Chelsea striker, director confirms interest

    Chelsea have four offers on their table for Alvaro Morata , who is determined to leave the club in the January transfer window. Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke has spoken positively about the possibility of Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata joining the club.
    Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun granted asylum in Canada, Justin Trudeau confirms

    Saudi teen Rahaf Alqunun granted asylum in Canada, Justin Trudeau confirms

    Canada's ambassador had seen her off at the airport, Surachate said, adding that she looked happy and healthy. Ms.al-Qunun's case was dealt with on a fast-track "emergency" basis in light of the urgency of her situation.
  • Netflix account sharing could be coming to an end

    Netflix account sharing could be coming to an end

    A new technology has been released today that may turn into a wake up call for many of us who use services like Netflix . It was revealed by Synamedia at the event that nearly 26 percent of millennials share their Netflix account with others.
    Rare penny found in 1947 could be worth more than $1 million

    Rare penny found in 1947 could be worth more than $1 million

    After being dispelled by the Treasury Department, Lutes made a decision to keep his 1943-branded coin for his personal collection. After Lutes's health started to decline, he moved to a nursing home. "All pennies struck in 1943 were zinc-coated steel".
    Sarri frustration over Chelsea transfer policy continues to grow

    Sarri frustration over Chelsea transfer policy continues to grow

    And now Robben, who spent three seasons at Chelsea , says Hudson-Odoi should take the leap and play for Bayern. I am happy with the player because he is improving, improving a lot in the defensive phase.