Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family

Saudi Woman Running Away from Family is Now Under UNHCR Protection

Saudi Woman Running Away from Family is Now Under UNHCR Protection

"The claims made by Alqunun that she may be harmed if returned to Saudi Arabia are deeply concerning", a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said.

"Due to privacy concerns, we can not comment on a specific case without signed consent", said Nancy Caron, a spokeswoman for Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

In 2017, Dina Ali Lasloom triggered a firestorm online when she was stopped en route to Australia, where she planned to seek asylum.

She said she would be imprisoned or worse if she was sent back to Saudi Arabia, telling Human Rights Watch she was fleeing abuse from her family, including beatings and death threats from male relatives, who forced her to remain in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

At the same time, Australian media has reported that the government in Canberra will be ready to take in al-Qunun if the United Nations verifies her claims. "Whether someone holds a visitor visa does not have a bearing on this process".

Alqunun's father - a senior Saudi official - and her brother, who she says often physically abused her, are now in Thailand.

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

He said he would talk to the United Nations refugee agency about a potential meeting between the family members.

Fortunately, the pressure of ordinary citizens using social media saved the life of Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun who is today free and may soon be in Canada as our beloved fellow citizen, sister and daughter.

"Only she can make that choice, she's an adult woman who can make her own decisions!"

"Because this is a high profile case and because she has a lot of support from the global community, I think it is very possible that this could end very quickly", said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

He told Australia's ABC that he was concerned about the arrival of Alqunun's father in Thailand.

"Her dream might come true, we just have to wait and see", she said.

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.

He said the Thai government "needs to explain why diplomats from Saudi Arabia are allowed to walk in closed areas of the Bangkok airport, seizing one of their citizen's passports".

"The girl has violated immigration and residency laws because she does not have a return ticket or a hotel reservation, and she does not have a tourism program", the statement read.

After public pressure, Alqunun got her passport back.

Rahaf also accused her family of subjecting her to physical and psychological abuse. Hakparn ensured that they will "take care of her as best we can", and that "she is now under the sovereignty of Thailand; no-one and no embassy can force her to go anywhere".

"They will kill me because I fled and because I announced my atheism", she said.

"At least I feel safe now under UNHCR protection with the agreement of Thailand authorities", she posted.

Her ordeal began long before she boarded a flight from Kuwait to Australia with a stopover for a flight change at Bangkok Airport.

Speaking to Reuters via text and audio messages she alleged her family had threatened to kill her. "If you sent her back to Saudi Arabia after saying that, forget about her".

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