Runaway Qunun’s Father and Brother Watch a Meeting with Saudi Woman Whose Asylum Case Under Probe
The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) has intervened in the case involving Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun (18) who fled her family in Saudi Arabia and her passport was initially confiscated by officials at Bangkok airport.
The UN agency interviewed the young woman on Tuesday. She had wanted to flee to Australia, against the wishes of her family, especially her strict father.
Qunun, whose plea for not being sent back to her family was ultimately accepted by Thai officials after drawing international attention, will make her asylum case to UNHCR. Her status in the country will be decided by the agency.
A UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it was too early to say anything regarding the granting of asylum or refugee status. The official said it could take several days for the agency to probe Qunun’s claims.
Qunun, had waited for hours at the airport on Sunday for the plane to Kuwait to depart without her by blockading herself in her hotel room and accused Saudi officials of forcing her back home, where she claims her family wanted dead.
“We will not send anyone to die. We will not do that. We will adhere to human rights under the rule of law,” Thailand’s immigration police chief, Major-General Surachate Hakparn, told Associated Press.
Saudi officials, on the other hand, rejected Qunun’s allegations. Hakparn said Saudi diplomats told him they were satisfied with how her case had been handled. The Saudi embassy in Thailand said the kingdom never demand she be deported back to the oil-rich country.
Meanwhile, the father and brother of the Saudi woman were reportedly due to arrive in Thailand to request a meeting with Qunun, now under the protection of UNHCR.
Hakparn said it was Qunun’s decision if she was willing to meet the two family members. She, however, expressed her fears of the meeting via her Twitter handle.
Qunun’s case attracted attention once more to human rights abuses and restrictions on women in Saudi Arabia. The country is accused of to often brutally crack down on dissident citizens. It has come under intense scrutiny after journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by Saudi officials last October. Riyadh admitted that it was a premeditated murder and a group of Saudi men committed it.