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Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family

Teen Locks Herself in Room After Fleeing Allegedly Abusive Family”

Australia's home affairs minister has warned there will be "no special treatment" in the case of Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, the 18-year-old Saudi woman who barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to prevent her forcible return to a family she claims will kill her.

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.

"Canada is very concerned by and watching closely the situation of Ms. Rahaf al-Qunun", said Stefano Maron, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada.

Alqunun tweeted that her father had arrived at the Bangkok airport, which had "scared" her, but said she felt "safe" with the UNHCR.

Saudi teen Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (front left) is seen with Thai immigration authorities at a hotel inside Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok January 7, 2019. But as her desperate calls for help quickly attracted human rights campaigners and United Nations refugee staffers intervened, they promised not to deport her.

According to Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch, who has been in close contact with Rahaf, she was fleeing physical abuse by her male relatives, in particular by her father and her brother.

But she had only 24 followers and her first tweets went without being noticed until the BBC picked up the story.

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.

Her case will now be referred to Australia for consideration.

The spokesperson said the government had "serious concerns on this matter and the need for Ms Al-Qunun's claim to be assessed expeditiously".

"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.

Rahaf Al-Qunun is a young Saudi woman studying at a local university traveled to Thailand via Kuwait in an attempt to seek asylum in Australia.

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

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

Activists say Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries to women in the world and forbids females from obtaining a passport, traveling overseas or marrying without a male guardian's permission.

Al-Qunun alleged several times that Saudi officials were involved in seizing her passport.

A Change.org petition to grant Qunun asylum in Britain has so far garnered more than 80,000 signatures.

She made her escape during a family trip to Kuwait, where she purchased flights to Thailand and Australia. "She was unhappy having to wear the hijab and being forced to pray", he added.

"I am giving my family 48 hours (to) either stop or I will publish everything that will incriminate them", she threatened on Twitter.

Robertson told CBC's As it Happens that the 18-year old was confined to her room for nearly six months.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not asked for her extradition".

Saudi Arabia's human rights record has come under intense scrutiny since the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in October.



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