Father, brother of Saudi teen flying to Thailand

Saul Bowman
January 10, 2019

"She will be deported back to the State of Kuwait where her family live".

Thailand's immigration police chief met Tuesday with officials from the Saudi Embassy in Bangkok, as Saudi Arabia tried to distance itself from accusations that it attempted to block a young woman's effort to flee from her family and seek asylum overseas.

"It could take several days to process the case and determine next steps", UNHCR's Thailand representative Giuseppe de Vincentiis said in a statement.

On Sunday, Thai authorities said Qunun would be sent back to Saudi Arabia, but they abruptly changed course as her plight pinballed across social media.

"Rahaf is not a political asylum case", he insisted.

"My family is strict and locked me in a room for six months just for cutting my hair".

Senator Hanson-Young's call comes after the Australian government revealed it had made representations to the Thai government on behalf of Ms Qunun, helping to ensure she is now able to access the refugee process under the care of United Nations officials.

Mr Surachate earlier said she was denied entry because she did not have a paid return ticket or hotel reservation.

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

Another official told a Saudi-owned TV channel that Qunun's father had contacted the mission for "help" in bringing her back. "Finally, I regained my passport".

The arrival of Qunun's relatives has raised alarm among her supporters. "We are simply performing our duties" he said.

The incident comes as Saudi Arabia faces intense scrutiny over the shocking murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi previous year, which has renewed criticism of the kingdom's rights record. The statement said the case is a "family affair but yet, it is under the care and attention of the Embassy".

Thai officials have announced they will not send a young Saudi woman who is seeking asylum in Australia back to Saudi Arabia.

"You are the real power help me to send my message, I need PROTECTION", she tweeted Tuesday afternoon, adding the hashtag #savemylife. Once there, she got on a plane to Thailand, hoping to travel from there to Australia. Allegedly, she has an entry visa for Australia. This "worried and scared me a lot", she said. "I think this will be fair to both sides", he said.

Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, 18, feared she would be killed if she was forced to return home.

Another tweet by Jonathan Head, BBC correspondent for Southeast Asia, said Rahaf was not on the Kuwait Airlines flight that left the airport Monday morning local time. "My brothers and family and the Saudi embassy will be waiting for me in Kuwait", Ms Mohammed al-Qunun told Reuters. "This should be the standard for any individual who claims that his or her life is in danger". I've seen Rahaf's Australian visa which was valid - but yesterday when she was trying to log into her immigration online profile that appeared to no longer be working? "They wanted me to pray and to wear a veil, and I didn't want to".

"I love life and work and I am very ambitious but my family is preventing me from living".

Ms Qunun is understood to have fled from her family two days ago during a trip to Kuwait.

In her initial social media pleas, the Saudi teen said her family was powerful in Saudi society but she did not identify them.

Surachate also said if Thai authorities decide not to send her back to Saudi Arabia, they would have to provide their reasons to Saudi authorities in order not to not affect the countries' relations. Saudi females who flee their families are nearly always running away from abusive male relatives, often a father or brother.

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