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Thailand says Saudi woman fleeing abuse will go to Canada

Thailand says Saudi woman fleeing abuse will go to Canada”

Saudi woman Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (centre) is escorted by a Thai Immigration Chief Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn (right) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials at Suvarnabhumi global airport in Bangkok on Monday.

She refused to meet with them.

Online protest is a tactic long championed by women in Saudi Arabia.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees granted her refugee status on Wednesday.

Rahaf Mohammed fled Saudi Arabia because she feared her family would kill her.

Thai immigration officials told Reuters that Canada had "granted her asylum", however Canadian officials told the BBC they now have "nothing to confirm" on the issue. "We are sorry the original wording about 'respecting her decision" was open to misinterpretation".

She was later allowed to enter Bangkok on Monday evening by the Thai authorities after a tense 48 hours that saw her refuse to board a flight to Saudi Arabia and barricade herself inside a transit lounge hotel room, while the world watched the drama unfold on social media.

A similar point was made by UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch, who said that what was different in Alqunun's case was that "the wave of all of the voices of solidarity and support came together, joined up in terms of caring for this individual".

Thai authorities had initially threatened to deport her after she arrived in Bangkok from Kuwait last weekend.

"The UNHCR has referred Ms Rahaf Mohammed Al-Ms Qunun to Australia for consideration for refugee resettlement", Australia's Department of Home Affairs confirmed in a statement.

On Sunday Ms Qunun told AFP her family was "abusive" and once locked her in a room for six months just for cutting her hair. Under the kingdom's strict guardianship laws, adult women must obtain permission from a male guardian to travel overseas, marry or be released from prison.

"The unique thing about this case is that she had access to social media, and was able to report on it and bring the world's attention to her plight", said Pearson.

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

Alqunun deactivated her Twitter account on Friday. Dina Ali Lasloom ran away from her family after she was abused. For example, activists started a Facebook campaign in 2011 called "Women2Drive" to fight a decades-old ban on women driving cars in Saudi Arabia, which was lifted a year ago.

Refugee status is normally granted by governments, but the UNHCR can grant it where states are "unable or unwilling to do so", according to its website.

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.

"I think the most important thing is a young woman in these very very hard circumstances is supported appropriately through the United Nations processes and that countries like Australia who are in a position potentially to provide her with support are able to work from that point once those are finalised and determine what the next steps are", Ms Payne said. It said her case had inspired millions and should remind people of the bravery and sacrifices of people who flee their native lands for safety.



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