Saudi woman held in Bangkok fears she will be killed if repatriated

Rahaf Al Qunun posted

Rahaf Al Qunun posted

Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, says she was on a trip to Kuwait with her family when she fled on a flight two days ago.

But in an interview with Saudi-owned channel Rotana Khalijial, he denied that her passport had been seized and that embassy officials were present inside the airport. Thai police, she said, had refused to help her.

On Twitter, she wrote of being in "real danger" if forced to return to her family under pressure from Saudi authorities.

A Saudi woman used social media to draw attention to her plight trying to flee her family, claiming that authorities in Thailand confiscated her passport and were holding her Sunday at an airport hotel room in Bangkok.

Ms Mohammed al-Qunun was stopped at Suvarnabhumi Airport where she meant to catch a connecting flight to Australia.

She said that she was fleeing abuse from her family, including beatings and death threats from her male relatives, who also forced her to remain in her room for six months for cutting her hair.

"I'm sure 100 percent they will kill me as soon as I get out of the Saudi jail", she said, adding that she was "scared" and "losing hope".

Al-Qunun told Human Rights Watch that at about 5 p.m. on January 6, Thai immigration officers took her from her hotel room and informed her that she could not enter Thailand because her visa was "rejected" and that she must return to Kuwait on January 7.

"They said "you have three minutes to pack, and you will be flown back to Kuwait tomorrow at 11.15am, then returned to Saudi Arabia"," she told AAP. In some cases, Saudi authorities have been involved in forcing women to return to their families and in other cases local authorities suspect the women of seeking asylum and deport them.

"What is truly appalling is how the Saudi Arabian government has acted in sending an official to physically seize her passport from her in Bangkok airport global transit", he said.

She says she has an Australian visa but her passport was seized by a Saudi diplomat when he met her coming off the flight at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Human Rights Watch Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson said the organisation was trying to lodge an asylum claim with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

He added that there is "impunity" within the family unit in Saudi Arabia to abuse women.

Federal agencies told to hold off pay raises
The White House and a spokesperson for the vice president did not respond to requests for comment from the Post . He suggested the president fix the problem by immediately issuing an executive order canceling the raises.

Her fate on arriving back in Saudi Arabia remains unknown.

In a tweet Ms al-Qunun said: 'I have been detained in an airport hotel.

'There is an airport person who constantly follows me.

Ms Mohammed al-Qunun wrote on Twitter that she had chose to share her name and details because she had "nothing to lose" now.

Police Lieutenant General Surachet Hakparn said Ms Alqunun was in the process of being repatriated through Kuwait Airlines, the same airline she had arrived on.

Saudi citizens visiting Thailand are also eligible to apply for a visa on arrival when entering the country.

Gen Surachate said he was unaware of any passport seizure and it is unclear why Ms Mohammed al-Qunun would need a Thai visa if she was in transit to Australia and had an Australian visa.

Ms Mohammed al-Qunun told BBC Newshour she was now in a hotel in the transit area.

She took to Twitter to plead her case, creating a profile with an Arabic bio that reads "I just want to survive".

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

Saudi Arabia requires that a woman have the consent of a male relative - usually a father or husband - to obtain a passport, travel overseas or marry.

The Saudi embassy in Thailand and officials in Riyadh could not be reached for immediate comment.

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